THE BOOK RIOT 50: #21 Bookstore Mash Note for City Lights Books

Jennifer Paull

Staff Writer

Jennifer Paull walks quickly.

To celebrate Book Riot’s  first birthday on Monday, we’re running our best 50 posts from our first year this week. Click here for the running list. This post originally ran April 20, 2012.


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.