Friends of City Lights discussion

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Do you remember the first time you visited City Lights?

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message 1: by City Lights (new)

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers (citylights) | 16 comments Mod
Was it 20 years ago or 20 days ago? What drew you in?

They say, "first impressions are everything." Tell us about yours!


message 2: by Gary (new)

Gary (garywest) | 1 comments The first time I visited was almost 4 years ago. I had heard about City Lights for years and decided I had to visit. As far as first impressions, City Lights is exactly the type of bookstore I love: homey, calming, and (best of all) independent. I also love the location as I enjoy hanging out in Chinatown.


message 3: by Charles (new)

Charles | 1 comments I almost visited the first time in 1974, when I ran away from university to stay at Jonathan Williams's house in the UK. When I said I wanted to go to San Francisco Jonathan called Winston Leyland at Gay Sunshine, who said he might be able to get me a part time job at City Lights. I don't know if he would have managed this or not, because I chickened out and went back to Cambridge to finish my degree. I actually made it to the shop for the first time in 2008, just after I'd published my first novel with Picador. You didn't have a copy!! (But I forgive you.) I'm looking forward very much to my next visit, I hope before too long. (BTW, do you have a copy of my latest? I'd love to know!)


message 4: by City Lights (new)

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers (citylights) | 16 comments Mod
Thank you for your wonderful responses. Glad we left a lasting impression!


message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) It must have been in 1966 or 1967. A friend and I went (we were jr. high school/middle school age) and browsed. I think we disappointed the bookseller working there because at that visit we bought bestseller type books. We weren't too adventurous. He tried to interest us in more esoteric and meaningful books.

But, I have returned at other times.


message 6: by Constantine (new)

Constantine Alexander (c-alexander) | 4 comments It was 1984 when I first visited California. I drove on HWY 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco and visiting City Lights was one of the highlights of my trip. I spent hours at the basement and going through the poetry section discovering new treasures to take back to Greece with me. I have visited the bookstore at least twenty times since then and for a year I lived a few blocks away from it. It always holds a special place in my heart.


message 7: by Greg (new)

Greg (gmtjoy) | 2 comments You guys win. I first went there in 2016. But it was something I'd looked forward to since 2007, when I took a Beat writers class in grad school. It was well worth it, of course, though I was surprised the semi-cheesy Beat Museum across the street had a better selection of Diane Di Prima. I think I bought mostly Ferlinghetti, but I don't remember exactly which ones.

I also admit to spending more time at the bar next door (across Jack Kerouac Alley) than I did in City Lights, and I do not regret that either.


message 8: by Constantine (new)

Constantine Alexander (c-alexander) | 4 comments It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. May you enjoy each day of your adventure. Happy New Year 2018!


message 9: by amf (new)

amf | 1 comments old thread, fun question...

Impromptu first visit to San Francisco for a few days from Iowa. This was 8 years ago, maybe? I'd read the Beats and was a huge poetry geek, but somehow I forgot about City Lights until stranger mentioned.
It was a dreary April day and I was pretending not to be a tourist as I roamed the streets looking for a veggie cafe. Older guy who could've been Woody Allen's brother asked me if I was lost. We chatted a bit and he told me there was a famous bookstore I should visit. First, he said any poetry lover must visit Vesuvio. A bloody mary later, we crossed the alley to City Lights. I fell in love with the third floor, so long that my creepy tour guide vanished into the rain. I bought one of my all time fave books that day...and a few fabulous postcards.
Happy Birthday (belated) L.F. - we are blessed to have CL.


message 10: by Lee (new)

Lee (pebbl) | 1 comments I first visited when I moved to San Francisco in 2008. It was on a typical SF morning - foggy and romantic. My friends and I loved the nonfiction section and the attic space particulary charming and cozy. I hope City Lights stays open as long as it can.


message 11: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Tigchelaar | 1 comments Yes, and I reverse robbed them. I left a copy of my poetry book, Certain Streets at an Uncertain Hour, on the shelf... naughty, I know. If it's still there, I'm excited. If not...even more excited.


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