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City Lights Bookstore

City Lights Bookstore

Chinatown, San Francisco
109 Tips and reviews
  • books
  • poetry section
  • allen ginsberg
  • novels
  • poet lawrence ferlinghetti and peter d martin
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  • Popular
  • Rainbeau
    RainbeauJanuary 24
    Founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953.
  • Jenny
    JennyJune 17, 2013
    Learn how to look at a burrito here.
  • Kaitlin T.
    Kaitlin TMarch 7
    A charming, expansive store! Great selection of fiction, political works, literary magazines, and poetry -- plus friendly, helpful staff.
  • Mason B.
    Mason BatleySeptember 25, 2014
    Excellent wide selection of books.
  • Matthew H.
    Matthew HuntSeptember 25, 2009
    Solid fiction selection.
  • Tiana D.
    Tiana DangerApril 23, 2015
    This place is magical. Get lost in it. And take a flick by the door- you'll know which one when you see it 😉
  • SF Weekly
    SF WeeklyMay 30, 2012
    SF Weekly’s Best Of 2012 Winner – Editorial Pick - Best Place to Buy New Books. San Francisco’s status as one of America’s best book cities was somewhat threatened by closures over the last decade... Read more
  • Scott K.
    Scott KuriharaOctober 13, 2010
    Look across the street behind the big tree to see a banksy piece. "at first you don't succeed -call in a airstrike"
  • Smith B.
    Smith BlarneyOctober 3, 2010
    Just swim in the incredible selection, fantastic feel & history, be sure to have a drink at Vesuvio's next door & read yr new book
  • Bennett W W.
    Bennett W WongSeptember 5, 2016
    If you enjoy browsing through a collection of books, then this is your spot.
  • Angie H.
    Angie HarmonJanuary 9, 2016
    Extremely interesting book curation here. Really very unique in what it stocks, even among independent bookstores.
  • Carmen M.
    Carmen MyersNovember 21, 2012
    Cut across jack Kerouac alley and you travel from Italy to china
  • Arianna B.
    Arianna BisonMay 24, 2016
    Nice to visit
  • Jess L.
    Jess LMarch 15, 2016
    Gorgeous, great for browsing. Not really much in the way of kids books.
  • Bobak E.
    Bobak EsfandiariFebruary 17, 2016
    Support excellent and civic minded bookstores! This is the beating heart of our first amendment.
  • Claire L.
    Claire LeeDecember 18, 2011
    Been here 5+ times
    Thought I wouldn't be able to find a replacement for NYC's Stand Book Store but.. this place is even better. Words, knowledge, ideas emanate from those shelves like no other.
  • Olivia M.
    Olivia Meza1 week ago
    Loved the second floor ❤️
  • Tiffany
    TiffanyJune 29, 2012
    Been here 25+ times
    Amazing literature in translation section. One of the best I have seen in the US.
  • Roger M.
    Roger Man HausAugust 30, 2013
    Reading books may change your life!
  • Alix B.
    Alix BloodworthJuly 8, 2012
    Go in, grab a seat upstairs, and read Howl.
  • Robert H.
    Robert HawkinsJuly 7, 2015
    This is one of the most expertly curated bookstores I've ever been to. Long after the Beat Generation faded, Ferlinghetti's voice is strong.
  • Jonathan D.
    Jonathan DiazJuly 19, 2015
    So much history here. Go up to the poetry section and check out all the posters from Beat authors on the wall
  • St. Martin's Press
    St. Martin's PressAugust 28, 2014
    Meet Nayomi Munaweera on Monday, September 22, 2014 at 7:00 PM as she reads from her debut novel Island of a Thousand Mirrors. Also in conversation with Paul Yamazaki. Read more
  • 💕Linds💕
    💕Linds💕June 29, 2016
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the man! Thanks for everything Mr. Ferlinghetti!
  • SEGA
    SEGAJanuary 5, 2012
    An integral part of SF's beatnik history. The original publishers of Howl, they have a great beatnik section as well as other great books. - Kellie, Community Manager
  • Cris F.
    Cris FiancoMay 17, 2014
    I wanna a book. rsrsrs
  • Paul F.
    Paul FarrellOctober 13, 2015
    Sure it is of historical significance, but don't lose sight of the fact that it is a cracking bookstore
  • Finella Jianna V.
    Brings me to the past. Great selection of books. 😊
  • Diego R.
    Diego RufoMarch 25, 2011
    If you love books, this is one of the best bookstores in the world to visit. Read more
  • Liza P.
    Liza PNovember 15, 2015
    The best book store in the world! Legendary place, and the people who work here actually read. Always ask for recommendations.
  • Tom B.
    Tom BevilacquaDecember 20, 2009
    Been here 5+ times
    Go to City Lights Books, go upstairs to the Beat Generation section and buy a copy of On The Road, Howl and Naked Lunch.
  • Tim E.
    Tim ErdmannOctober 17, 2009
    Channel Kerouac.
  • S D.
    S DAugust 13, 2015
    You can feel the history of this place as you go down each and every row of books. Do you like books? You have to check it out.
  • California Girl (CG)
    California Girl (CG)August 6, 2012
    Excellent bookstore and with a rich Beatnik history. Photos of Kerouac abound.
  • Nate  H.
    Nate  HermesMarch 30, 2014
    simply the best
  • Kirstie O.
    Kirstie O'DonnellJanuary 15, 2015
    Cool wee bookstore. Almost get lost in.
  • Mazda
    MazdaDecember 3, 2010
    Both the store and the publishers became widely known following the obscenity trial of Ferlinghetti for publishing Allen Ginsberg's influential poem Howl and Other Poems (City Lights, 1956).
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux
    Farrar, Straus & GirouxFebruary 12, 2014
    Meet David Grand on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 7:00 PM as he reads from his new novel Mount Terminus. Also with Wesley Stace. Read more
  • eM L.
    eM LeMay 23, 2010
    check out the postcards
  • Margherita B.
    The Beat Generation place
  • Official smart USA
    Official smart USAApril 11, 2013
    It’s more than just a bookstore, it’s a forum for free thinking.
  • Enda N.
    Enda NasutionSeptember 22, 2015
    Come and smell the beats generation breathing behind your neck
  • Anna C.
    Anna CJuly 31, 2011
    A little piece of history in North Beach.
  • Anna K.
    Anna KozlovaMarch 16, 2016
    Independent bookstore-publisher est. 1953 and became widely known after publishing Allen Ginsberg in 1956. Today, you can buy all kinds of books here.
  • Mike R.
    Mike RegerMarch 29, 2012
    Channel a beat
  • Claire J.
    Claire JudsonDecember 21, 2014
    Very cool place, love the recommendations posted
  • Danny S.
    Danny SauterApril 24, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    Put down your Kindle and read a book here the way things were meant to be read.
  • Linda G.
    Linda GDecember 30, 2015
    Been here 5+ times
    No public bathroom. The science fiction section is small and at the very back of the basement. They have great graphic novels. :)
  • Saliem (Mei) C.
    Saliem (Mei) ChiuJanuary 18, 2016
    Small kids section in the basement
    HISTORYMarch 29, 2010
    In 1956 founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti published Alan Ginsberg's beatnik classic poem "Howl", and faced obscenity charges for it. In a landmark ruling, the poem was protected by the First Amendment.
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