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City Lights Bookstore

City Lights Bookstore

Chinatown, San Francisco
115 Tips and reviews
  • books
  • poetry section
  • allen ginsberg
  • novels
  • poet lawrence ferlinghetti and peter d martin
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  • Popular
  • Eric S.
    Very special, old bookstore. Be sure to spend your time downstairs: it's roomier, not rushed, and have very interesting material. In the post-bookstore era, this one reminds you how great they can be.
  • Finella Jianna V.
    Brings me to the past. Great selection of books. 😊
  • Kaitlin T.
    Kaitlin TMarch 7
    A charming, expansive store! Great selection of fiction, political works, literary magazines, and poetry -- plus friendly, helpful staff.
  • Margherita B.
    The Beat Generation place
  • Dean M.
    Dean MoriartyFebruary 7
    If your looking for something new, hip or different. If you're lost and looking for a bible that's significant towards the development of your personal mythology..look no further.
  • Rainbeau
    RainbeauJanuary 24
    Founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953.
  • Chris S.
    Chris SmithNovember 12, 2016
    Support local bookstores & local printers & authors.
  • Carl M.
    Carl MackiOctober 3, 2016
    Willis, Tony, and Aliki Barnstone Reading this Thursday evening!
  • m d.
    m dSeptember 20, 2016
    Cool bookstore they're open until midnight. Their collections are surely interesting.
  • Bennett W W.
    Bennett W WongSeptember 5, 2016
    If you enjoy browsing through a collection of books, then this is your spot.
  • Brian S.
    Brian StraussAugust 14, 2016
    A legend still doing high volume. Fun to see that they can assert a strong literary perspective in their recommendations and staff picks offline, in today's best seller, Amazon universe.
  • Savoteur
    SavoteurAugust 2, 2016
    City Lights is a can't-miss for its historic past. The bookstore and non-profit publisher focuses on progressive works and printed locally authored collections like Allen Ginsberg's famous Howl. Read more
  • Henna A.
    One of my favorites!! They're open late, making city lights a great place to hang out after a few drinks :)
  • Secil S.
    Secil SansevenJuly 7, 2016
    They have very nice people working and interesting walls. I liked the downstairs the most.
  • Danny Z.
    Danny ZlobinskyJuly 7, 2016
    A piece of history, and still a fantastic bookshop.
    Upvoted Mar 18
  • 💕Linds💕
    💕Linds💕June 29, 2016
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the man! Thanks for everything Mr. Ferlinghetti!
  • Jones
    JonesJune 8, 2016
    Poetry room upstairs is unique
  • Jon T.
    Jon TerryJune 8, 2016
    An absolute treasure! Don't forget to see the poetry and beat section upstairs.
  • Dallin B.
    Dallin BryceJune 3, 2016
    Three floors of excellence and a phenomenal bar next door.
  • Arianna B.
    Arianna BisonMay 24, 2016
    Nice to visit
  • Martín H.
    Martín HunterApril 13, 2016
    Are you a "beatnik"? This place is a MUST.
  • Laura H.
    Laura HamlynMarch 30, 2016
    Book heaven
  • 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.
  • Jess L.
    Jess LMarch 15, 2016
    Gorgeous, great for browsing. Not really much in the way of kids books.
  • Logan K.
    Logan KerrMarch 14, 2016
    Really cute space.
  • Bobak E.
    Bobak EsfandiariFebruary 17, 2016
    Support excellent and civic minded bookstores! This is the beating heart of our first amendment.
  • Saliem (Mei) C.
    Saliem (Mei) ChiuJanuary 18, 2016
    Small kids section in the basement
  • Angie H.
    Angie HarmonJanuary 9, 2016
    Extremely interesting book curation here. Really very unique in what it stocks, even among independent bookstores.
  • Reine G.
    Reine GentozalaJanuary 9, 2016
    The place stinks.
  • Jussi H.
    Jussi HäyhäJanuary 7, 2016
    Great place to spend tome and cash.
  • Anita Y.
    Anita YuemingJanuary 2, 2016
    You can find books that you can't find else where!
  • Linda G.
    Linda GDecember 30, 2015
    No public bathroom. The science fiction section is small and at the very back of the basement. They have great graphic novels. :)
  • Kian L.
    Kian LaviNovember 17, 2015
    One of many amazing bookstores in the city. I get lost in writers every time I come here
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Enda N.
    Enda NasutionSeptember 22, 2015
    Come and smell the beats generation breathing behind your neck
  • Salvador .
    Salvador 🐒September 5, 2015
    Great selection!
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Allison A.
    Allison AbbottJune 29, 2015
    Not as funky as I would have imagined it to be, but great selection (and obviously a worthwhile landmark for any lover of books or beatniks) nonetheless
  • 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 😉
  • Jan S.
    Jan Shaw-FlammMarch 12, 2015
    One of a kind. Go for the books and the history.
  • Kirstie O.
    Kirstie O'DonnellJanuary 15, 2015
    Cool wee bookstore. Almost get lost in.
  • Dillon C.
    Dillon ChenJanuary 9, 2015
    If you like to browse your books late at night, this is the place to go. Open till midnight. Staff is super helpful, they don't turn to a computer straight away to find something.
  • Claire J.
    Claire JudsonDecember 21, 2014
    Lots of history
  • Claire J.
    Claire JudsonDecember 21, 2014
    Very cool place, love the recommendations posted
  • Mariah M.
    Mariah MOctober 16, 2014
    their book selection is great.
  • squeasel
    squeaselOctober 8, 2014
    Any bookstore where you can shop till midnight, and catch Daniel Handler in a fez playing the accordion, cannot be a bad bookstore.
  • Mason B.
    Mason BatleySeptember 25, 2014
    Excellent wide selection of books.
  • Sarah
    SarahSeptember 15, 2014
    Amazing bookstore with a well-curated selection. Love the poetry section upstairs.
  • 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
  • Monica C.
    Monica CAugust 17, 2014
    Make sure you give yourself enough time here for some thorough browsing. I could easily spend hours here.
  • mipadi
    mipadiAugust 16, 2014
    Check out the basement. There's a really interesting selection of books down there, including an ample science fiction section.
  • Jonathan K.
    Jonathan KramerAugust 15, 2014
    Exactly what you want from an independent bookstore. It's quiet, has charm and a good selection.
  • SFist
    SFistAugust 3, 2014
    Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, the independent bookstore and publisher specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. Read more
  • Karri S.
    Karri SaarinenJuly 7, 2014
    Beat generation bookstore
  • Cris F.
    Cris FiancoMay 17, 2014
    I wanna a book. rsrsrs
  • Ana M.
    Ana MontesMay 16, 2014
    Love♡♡.. phenomenal bookstore
  • Nate  H.
    Nate  HermesMarch 30, 2014
    simply the best
  • 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
  • Seth B.
    Seth BensonSeptember 26, 2013
    Obvious place to go.
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux
    Farrar, Straus & GirouxSeptember 16, 2013
    Meet literary critic John Freeman on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM as he reads from his new book, How to Read a Novelist. Also with Robin Sloan. Read more
  • Roger M.
    Roger Man HausAugust 30, 2013
    Reading books may change your life!
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum
    City Lights Bookstore is the epicenter of Beat History, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin in 1953.
  • Jenny
    JennyJune 17, 2013
    Learn how to look at a burrito here.
  • Foodie P.
    Foodie PilgrimJune 15, 2013
    A great source for modern communist thought
  • Official smart USA
    Official smart USAApril 11, 2013
    It’s more than just a bookstore, it’s a forum for free thinking.
  • Tom E.
    Tom EvansApril 7, 2013
    This place is fantastic in its selection of books, historical significance and proximity to the Beat Museum! Worth the trip to visit.
  • Alex K.
    Alex KimMarch 18, 2013
    There's a picture with a funny caption about breakfast on the stairs that lead up to the poetry section..
  • Reaux P.
    Reaux PackardMarch 3, 2013
    I wish I never had to leave this beautiful three story bookstore! It feels like taking a step back in time whenever you go in!
  • Michelin Travel & Lifestyle
    Relax with a book in the original Beatnik hangout, the first all-paperback bookstore in America when poet-owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened the doors in 1953. - Green Guide Editor
  • Racked
    RackedFebruary 4, 2013
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti's legendary bookstore is not to be missed. He has been a literary force since the '50s, and the store has been in North Beach since 1953. [Racked 38 Member]
  • Carmen M.
    Carmen MyersNovember 21, 2012
    Cut across jack Kerouac alley and you travel from Italy to china
  • Aaron D.
    Aaron DraczynskiOctober 9, 2012
    Such an incredible bookstore, you'll never want to leave.
  • California Girl (CG)
    California Girl (CG)August 6, 2012
    Excellent bookstore and with a rich Beatnik history. Photos of Kerouac abound.
  • Alix B.
    Alix BloodworthJuly 8, 2012
    Go in, grab a seat upstairs, and read Howl.
  • Al S.
    Al SJuly 5, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    Buy a fucking book, huh?
  • Tiffany
    TiffanyJune 29, 2012
    Been here 25+ times
    Amazing literature in translation section. One of the best I have seen in the US.
  • 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
  • Laura L.
    Laura LubarovMay 24, 2012
    I can't leave this place! Every time I try to leave another great book I've been meaning to read catches my eye! Damn you City Lights.
  • 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.
  • Mike R.
    Mike RegerMarch 29, 2012
    Channel a beat
  • Dominic N.
    Dominic NanniMarch 18, 2012
    Buy a book by Allen Ginsberg and other Beat writers!
  • Erik H.
    Erik HomFebruary 2, 2012
    Upstairs is where Gene Hackman's office was located in "Class Action"
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux
    Farrar, Straus & GirouxOctober 13, 2011
    Meet Paul La Farge on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:00 PM as he reads from his new novel, Luminous Airplanes. Presented in partnership with McSweeney's, with an introduction from Eli Horowitz.
  • Carolyn S.
    Carolyn SeeferAugust 23, 2011
    Been here 10+ times
    Bookstores don't get any better than this! Founded in San Francisco in 1953 during the Beat Era, it contains three floors of books, all housed in an historic building.
  • Anna C.
    Anna CJuly 31, 2011
    A little piece of history in North Beach.
  • Jessica A.
    Jessica AndersonJuly 24, 2011
    Check out the poetry/beat poetry room on the top floor. Grab a copy of HOWL while you're there.
  • Jay M.
    Jay MinerMay 3, 2011
    Been here 5+ times
    Go to the third floor and find a copy of Ginsberg's "Howl" - the book that embroiled City Lights in an obscenity trial. Sit in the Poet's Chair and read it from start to finish.
  • Diego R.
    Diego RufoMarch 25, 2011
    If you love books, this is one of the best bookstores in the world to visit. Read more
  • 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).
  • Eileen B.
    Eileen BNovember 5, 2010
    Love the section headings downstairs: "Muckraking," "Evidence" and more.
  • Matthew G.
    Matthew GidleyOctober 25, 2010
    City Lights isn't so much 'stocked' as 'curated'. For its size this has to be the best independent bookshop in the world. When you're finished buying go next door to Vesuvio and get drunk.
  • 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"
    Upvoted Mar 15
  • 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
  • Gadling
    GadlingSeptember 29, 2010
    Head to the third floor and look for the "poet's chair."
  • Giselle P.
    Giselle Porto MaiaJune 24, 2010
    absolutely beautiful!
  • Irene O.
    Irene OrianiOctober 3, 2016
    Da non perdere!
  • Priscilla B.
    Priscilla BulnesFebruary 22, 2016
    Legendaria librería, no dejes de visitar el Poetry Room y su sección de Literatura Beat.
  • Ricardo G.
    Ricardo GSDecember 30, 2015
    La mejor librería en California.
  • mel
    melMay 28, 2015
    Pequeña, atiborrada de libros, con gran variedad... ¡perfecta! además de tener su propia editorial publicando escritores locales
  • Rodrigo K.
    Rodrigo KanayamaJanuary 22, 2015
    Excelente livraria. Muita variedade, bons títulos e ótima classificação. Melhor que as grandes redes, com certeza.
  • Cristina A.
    Cristina AffanniAugust 19, 2013
    Vai al piano superiore e leggi una poesia ..ti rimette in pace con il mondo...
  • robb w.
    robb wongJune 24, 2013
    Parada obligatoria en el tour literario de San Francisco. Después de estar viendo los libros, vale la pena tomarse una cerveza enfrente, en el bar Vesuvio, lugar al q solían ir Kerouac y los beatniks
  • Francois P.
    Francois PichardAugust 1, 2012
    Baladez vous dans les étages et les rayons de cette boutique culte ; vous pouvez même en profiter pr acheter un livre (soyons fou ;) )
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