And it’s certainly a place you’ll want to go if you have a bookish bucket list of your own. I went last week, to Sunnyvale actually—we only spent a day and a half in San Francisco proper. But there’s so much in this area that would appeal to bookish people, whether you’re in the city or out in the suburbs. It’s all gorgeous.
The main attraction for me was the City Lights Bookstore. I knew this would be my first trip of many, so I didn’t go with an extensive to-do list, but this was one place I insisted on.
The bookstore itself is lovely, with three floors in the middle of a beautiful city block, just on the edge of Chinatown. The top floor is the poetry room, with the Poet’s Chair next to the window. There’s fiction on the ground floor, and when you go downstairs to nonfiction, you can see why they call themselves “alternative culture’s only literary landmark.” That’s where I found my souvenir, Kim Gordon’s memoir. It’s a fantastic atmosphere.
Whatever setting inspires you—mountains, forests, the ocean, the city, the country—you can probably find several varieties of it in the Bay Area.
There are streets named after authors and artists (I saw Jack Kerouac and Henrik Ibsen myself), with bookstores, libraries, cafes, and coffee shops everywhere you turn. All the buildings are beautiful, even gas stations, even Taco Bell.
Even the weather is well-suited for bookishness, with fog, rain, and sunshine that isn’t too hot. It’s basically my perfect place—which is what I suspected going in, but even so, I couldn’t have anticipated how hard I would fall in love from the second I left the airport. I can’t wait to go back.