San Francisco was recently ranked the 2nd best city in the United States for book lovers. The study considered 15 different metrics, including access to bookstores, free little libraries, literary festivals, and more. In honor of SF’s top ranking, we compiled a list of some books about SF that are perfect for Bay Area readers.
1. Joy Luck Club by Amy Tam
Joy Luck Club was published in 1989 and focused on four Chinese immigrant families who would come together to play mahjong. The book follows the stories of the mothers and daughters in San Francisco. The beloved novel was eventually turned into a film in 1993.
2. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
San Francisco is well known for its Beatnik literature, with On the Road being one of the most famous works to come from the movement. The book follows a young man as he travels across the United States, and one of his stops includes San Francisco.
3. Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
Another classic from beatnik writer Kerouac, Big Sur, was published after Kerouac’s major success following On the Road. The book follows a writer as he travels between SF and Big Sur.
4. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond
When a small child goes missing in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, a woman grapples with the loss and searches to find answers regarding the disappearance. The book focuses on loss and grief and received rave reviews when it was published.
5. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Tales of the City is the first installation in a nine-part series that follows a group of friends, many part of the LGBTQ community, as they go through life in San Francisco. The first four books appeared in installments in the San Francisco Chronicle before being published as novels.
6. Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot
Talbot covers a particularly interesting period in SF history, from the 1960s to the 1980s, following counterculture, the summer of love, and more. The book focuses on the summer of love and how the following years were a disappointment and often seen as much darker in comparison.
7. Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas by Rebecca Solnit
Author Rebecca Solnit creates a unique atlas that digs into San Francisco’s history while utilizing various artists to create beautiful maps of the city. The atlas is a unique way to learn more about San Francisco.
8. Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
Telegraph Avenue follows two owners of an Oakland-based record shop in the early 2000s. The story follows their wives and families in various subplots, including the wives’ midwife business.
9. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
The 1998 novel follows a young female protagonist as she immigrates to California, particularly San Francisco, in the 19th century. The book explores love, freedom, and obsession, all with the backdrop of San Francisco during the Gold Rush.
10. San Francisco Stories by Jack London
We couldn’t compile a list of SF books and not include Jack London. The SF native was born in San Francisco in 1876, and much of his work focused on San Francisco. The book features a collection of London’s short stories in San Francisco and is divided into four sections.