Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Literary San Francisco

San Francisco has long been considered a literate city. I have seen articles that say that San Franciscans read far more than the average American.

Authors started venturing here shortly after the Gold Rush. Mark Twain -- still using his given name of Samuel Clemens -- was a young journalist in San Francisco and Nevada. Brett Harte also made his name during the Gold Rush. Twentieth century luminaries include Frank Norris, Jack London (born in San Francisco, but raised in Oakland), Jack Kerouac, Amy Tan, and Dave Eggers.

My favorite bookstore in the City has long been
Green Apple Books at 506 Clement Street. Green Apple has a large selection of new and used books. I regularly take my old books to them for trade; enabling me to buy more books without laying out any cash.

City Lights Bookstore is 53 years and continues to thrive in North Beach at 261 Columbus Avenue. The nation's first paperback bookstore, City Lights gained fame as home to the Beat Generation or Beatniks. (The latter term was coined by longtime San Francisco journalist, Herb Caen.) Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and co-founder of City Lights, welcomed Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and other Beats to his new bookstore in the 1950s. 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of City Lights' publication of Allen Ginsberg's poem, "Howl." San Francisco police and US Customs found the book to be obscene and arrested Ferlinghetti. In a surprise verdict, the court found the poem had "redeeming social significance," a ruling that helped end book censorship in the United States.

A newcomer to San Francisco is Berkeley's
Cody's Books. Long a fixture on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, this year marks Cody's 50th anniversary. Late last year, Cody's opened its third store at 2 Stockton Street in San Francisco. (Cody's also has a branch on Berkeley's Fourth Street.) Cody's is known for its large selection spanning most genres.

While visiting San Francisco, take some time to visit these and other bookstores that have contributed to our literary tradition for so long.
Come on a private tour of San Francisco and I'll tell you about the real Tom Sawyer. To book your tour, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

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