My Bookish Travels: San Francisco 2017

04 Jul

Downtown San Francisco
Chronicle Books
Tales of the City tour
Other Bookstores
A few words about family


One of my grandmas celebrated her 80th birthday late last month so that was a great reason to go back to the city where I grew up- San Francisco! Most of my family on my dad’s side lives there so it was a weekend full of family and fun and food but I also managed to sneak in some bookstore and library visits.


One of the first things I do before traveling is to pick out the book(s) I want to take with me. This is a hard task because I want it to be something I can enjoy and kind of has to do with the place I’ll be visiting. My take along book was The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, a middle grade literary mystery set in San Francisco. I decided to bring a San Francisco guide book as well since I knew I was going to be walking around the city a lot! I also try to bring a book for my niece and my sister. I gave them Pancakes!: An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen and The Hour of Daydreams by Renee M. Rutledge respectively.


Even before I left the San Francisco Airport (SFO), I made sure to check out the San Francisco Airport Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum. Located in the International Terminal of SFO, this stunning place is free to the public.


It features exhibits and books focused on commercial aviation. (SFO has an impressive art presence throughout its airport and worth checking out.)


(Books Inc. also owns Compass Books in SFO but it’s at a different terminal after the security checkpoint. I’ll have to switch up my airline to visit it but it’s something I’m seriously considering doing!)

Downtown San Francisco

I had a whole day planned for my bookish trek through San Francisco wanting to hit up spots I hadn’t before in previous trips there. Read recaps of them here and here.

My first stop though wasn’t a bookstore or a library- or even originally planned- but I visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens.




Behind the large waterfall fountain are some of his inspirational words translated in various languages including Tagalog. I’m always happy to see Filipinos- and the Filipino culture- being represented so this was cool. I didn’t even realize until typing up this post that Manila, Philippines is one of San Francisco’s sister cities!


I also managed to walk by Jack London’s birthplace marked simply by a plaque. The original building had burned down during the 1906 earthquake and has been replaced by a rather bleak looking building unrelated to anything about the author!


Chronicle Books

I had visited a Chronicle Books retail location last time I was in San Francisco and had failed to find- as in I got lost looking for it- the one in their headquarters so I was thrilled to finally get there. I even spied Specs, their new book bike, in an off limits part of the building!

Their other location in the Marina reminded me of where I worked. They even had a cool sitting area for kids!

We’ve had some people from Chronicle Books visit our bookstore and they’ve always been nice so it was cool to visit theirs. And, what’s cool is that 2017 is their 50th anniversary. There was a retrospective and interactive exhibit at the San Francisco Center for the Book called Chronicle Books: Born in the Summer of Love. It runs through September.


My favorite part was seeing the various stages of a book from dummies to design production and all the way to a finished product. I even got to read Suzy Lee’s upcoming picture book Lines!


I didn’t even know about this place so it was cool to find out of its existence. Someone was actually working on one of their books at the workshop part of the building and the staff there seemed to be very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable!

Tales of the City tour

The number one thing I truly wanted to do during my bookish adventures that day was visit Macondray Lane, the setting for Barbary Lane where Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City takes place. I reviewed the entire series here.

After climbing some seriously steep San Francisco streets, I got there.


Enjoy the slideshow of Russian Hill sights!

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Other Bookstores

On my way to catch the bus to get to another bookstore, I discovered one that wasn’t on my list- The Green Arcade. I love when that happens. It’s a pretty recent bookstore- opening up less than a decade ago. I bought a copy of I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters edited by Michael G. Long.


Once on the bus, I saw another bookstore that wasn’t on my list so, of course, I got out. I bought a copy of Great Speeches on Gay Rights edited by James Daley at Bound Together Anarchist Collective Bookstore.


My destination was The Booksmith on Haight-Ashbury. It was probably my favorite bookstore of the ones I visited this time around. I read Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee there.

On the last day of my San Francisco visit, there was a Books Inc. store where we were having lunch so I stopped by while waiting for our food.



Books Inc. at the Marina


The bookstore my family and I actually ended up in the most was at Barnes and Noble. I convinced one of my cousins to buy The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas since she enjoys YA and we can both read it this summer!


In between bookstore visits, I managed to visit a couple (new to me) libraries.

golden gate valley

Golden Gate Valley Branch- a Carnegie Library

summer stride

San Francisco Public Library summer reading program- Summer Stride- has artwork designed by Lizi Boyd


Park Library Branch near Haight & Ashbury- apparently “the oldest existing San Francisco Public Library building”

Even though I visited the Main Library before, I wanted to stop by again because I just love the fact that it’s a great representation of the community it serves. There’s the Filipino American Center “designed to highlight the Filipino American experience” and the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center just to name the ones that I could relate to. The latter also has an exhibit space where they were showcasing Homopolis.


A few words about family

What a great time with family. What a wonderful world it is knowing there are all these wonderful people who are kind and generous and loving. Remember to surround yourself with people you love!



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