Thursday, November 29, 2018

Five (Plus) Books for People Who Live in and Love San Francisco

When I moved to San Francisco in 2007, my dad got me a copy of that year's San Zagat restaurant guide and a copy of Stairway Walks in San Francisco. These books became part of a growing collection of books that helped me explore my then new home. 

With the holiday season coming up, gifts are on many of our minds. Here I've chosen five of my favorite books about San Francisco, any of which would make a great gift for people who live in and love San Francisco. Full disclosure, my own book is in here, but I think it does make a fun gift!At the bottom of this list, I suggest some other books that I have not read yet, but that may also be great for lovers of San Francisco.

My Favorite Books for Lovers of San Francisco

Stairway Walks in San Francisco is a classic for urban explorers. The ninth edition of this book includes 34 walks in neighborhoods as diverse as the city itself: Forest Knolls, Dogpatch, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, and more. What the walks all have in common is that they highlight the stairways in each neighborhood they visit. The book comes with turn-by-turn directions, quick turn-by-turn directions, and black-and-white photos and maps.

Inspired by Stairway Walks in San Francisco, Urban Trails San Francisco helps you explore the city's stairways, hills, and hiking trails. The book includes stairway walks, but also trails through eucalyptus forests, sand dunes, and rocky cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. The book features 40 hikes in San Francisco, six in Marin County, and four south of the city. A companion book for the East Bay will be released in 2020.

111 Places in San Francisco That You Must Not Miss delights even old-time San Franciscans with novelty. From restaurants like Foreign Cinema to oddities like the Ingleside Terrace Sundial to experiences like the Glide Memorial Church to local institutions like Heath Ceramics, the book helps you explore new places or see a new side of old favorites. This book serves as a great inspiration for a San Francisco bucket list you can check off one item at a time.

Named for the George Sterling poem by the same name, Cool Gray City of Love is a beautifully-written poem to the city. 49 neighborhood-focused vignettes explore different views of the city. Author Gary Kamiya was a co-founder and longtime executive editor of the website, and the former executive editor of San Francisco Magazine. He now writes a bi-monthly column called "Portals of the Past" in the San Francisco Chronicle. This book is great as you can devour it all at once or one short story at a time.

Tales of the City, the only fiction book on this list is a must read for residents and lovers of San Francisco. The first book in Armistead Maupin's 9-book series transports readers to the wild, gender-bending, drug-infused San Francisco of the 1970s. Our unlikely heroine Mary Ann Singleton takes a vacation to San Francisco and decides to move here from the midwest...and the adventure goes from there. This book is addictive and so hard to put down. It features many places you can visit today like Macondray Lane and Washington Square Park.

Other Books for Lovers of San Francisco

As mentioned above, I haven't read these, but I mean to! They seem like great additions to any San Francisco book collection.

I just bought this book, but haven't fully explored it yet. The Amazon description says, "Wildsam Field Guides: San Francisco leads travelers into the most authentic experience of the California city, working closely with a team of trusted locals."

Season of the Witch has been on my Kindle for over a year, but I just haven't gotten to it yet. The Amazon description says, "Salon founder David Talbot chronicles the cultural history of San Francisco and from the late 1960s to the early 1980s when figures such as Harvey Milk, Janis Joplin, Jim Jones, and Bill Walsh helped usher from backwater city to thriving metropolis."


Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas looks like a book I could pour over for hours. The Amazon description says: "What makes a place? Rebecca Solnit’s brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, searches out the answer by examining the many layers of meaning in one place, the San Francisco Bay Area. Aided by artists, writers, cartographers, and twenty-two gorgeous color maps, each of which illuminates the city and its surroundings as experienced by different inhabitants, Solnit takes us on a tour that will forever change the way we think about place."

Maybe I'll put this last one on my holiday wish list this year. ;) Happy holidays and happy reading.