City Lights Books

When I found out I was going to San Francisco one of the very first things on my list of things to do was go to City Lights Books.

I am not big on touristy souvenirs. Well...mostly. When Lee and I travel together we try to pick up a Christmas ornament of where we've been so that someday our tree will be a real tree of memories. (Sadly we did not pick up any in Paris or Rome though we use little porcelain masks that we bought in Venice as ornaments.)

My idea of a souvenir is a book...or three. I may suck at remembering the author's name (sad but true) but I can generally remember where I bought a book. For example, I'll remember that I bought We Walked Very Warily by Margaret Gillett at a University of Toronto book sale which amused me because it's a history of women at McGill. Or that I bought The Great Big Baking Book on a clearance table at Indigo in Montreal during either my second or third year of university. Or that I stole McCall's Superb Dessert Cookbook from my mother on my last trip home. Ok, I didn't exactly steal it. I told her I was stealing it and she said it was ok.

It's kind of like how I tend to remember the colours of book covers which is why it works for me to arrange my books by colour (of the above, Warily is red, Big Baking is gold/brown and McCall's is white).

Sure I bought other stuff in San Francisco, little presents for people, a couple of pairs of earrings for myself (including a fabulous pair of amber earrings) but mostly I bought myself books.

I could have gone to City Lights a day earlier but I didn't realize I was just a block away from it. It's probably worked out better this way, though I wonder if I would have bought the same books if I had gone on another day. I can be moody about the books I buy.

  • Howl on Trial: The Battle for Free Expression, edited by Bill Morgan and Nancy J Peters (published by City Lights Books)

  • Resistance: A Woman's Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France by Barbara Mellor

  • The Gastronomical Me by MFK Fisher

  • Serve it Forth by MFK Fisher

Howl on Trial seemed quite appropriate because not only was it published by City Lights but with Banned Books Week being this week it seemed like the perfect time to buy it. I've only peeked at it so far but I think I'm going to like it.

I hadn't heard of Resistance before but immediately scooped it up. I once wrote a term paper on women and the underground resistance in France. Totally up my alley. I really can't wait to start it (though I suspect it won't be for awhile because I suck). I even broke my "I really can't buy any more black books because I don't have room for more black books" rule. (It's a very unfirm rule.)

The MFK Fisher books both seemed oh so appropriate considering I was in town for a food blogging conference. Really, how could I not buy at least one MFK Fisher book? Especially when I had been wanting to buy her books for a long time? Exactly, I couldn't.

I've now marked two bookstores of my bookstore list. City Lights and Shakespeare and Company. Next summer? The Strand.

I liked City Lights a lot. It's got crooks and crannies and plenty of seating. I do not like book stores that do not have seats. I will buy more if you have seats. I will buy even more if you have seats near books that I'm interested in or near sections that I'm interested in so I can sit and browse. City Lights definitely had lots of seats.