Our Reading Lives

Bookstore Mash Note: City Lights Books

Whenever I’m asked about my devotion to City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, my reply tends to be something of a dog’s breakfast—a blurt of reasons scrambled by enthusiasm. The phenomenal book selection and staff picks; the late hours; the fantastic readings! The way chairs are tucked just so into certain corners; the way the afternoon light soaks in. The history, of course, but also its blog, “Abandon All Despair Ye Who Enter Here.” They have a stack called “Praxis”! Did I mention the letterpress poster of poems entitled “13 Ways of Looking at a Burrito”?

And then there are the signs. Often hand-painted, posted high up above the shelves, or in odd corners, they’ve become my mental shorthand for what the store stands for, why I love it so.