Earlier this summer, I wrote about my dad’s San Francisco-themed reading list. Since then, I’ve gotten an outpouring of responses from bookworms, San Francisco longtimers and recent transplants, like myself, full of suggested addendums to the list.
What I love most about these notes is seeing the many and varied interpretations of what makes a given book an essential SF read. For Josiana Limones—who recently moved to the Bay Area from the Midwest—reading about the city and its surroundings is all about deepening her connection to the region.
“Reading a history of SF gives one a linear, or one-dimensional, Wikipedia-like view of the city,” Limones wrote. “Reading about the city through the eyes of an author with a story woven around the facts, regardless of fiction or non-fiction, gives one a three-dimensional view. Maybe even a fourth dimension.”
So without further ado, let’s dive into the fourth dimension—here are 10 more books we can all add to our list, thanks to suggestions from our readers!
Cool, Grey City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco
Across 49 chapters, Kamiya takes readers step by step as he walks the city’s grid. Neighborhood by neighborhood, he opens up a lens into the city’s past, present and future. Check out Spirits of San Francisco for another SF-based Kamiya read.
Dive into this first-person narrative of lesbian culture in the Mission District—full of debauchery and chaos—that’s right on trend with nostalgia for 1990s city living.
On The Road
Yes, we skipped this classic in the first round. Kerouac is one of San Francisco’s most famous Beat writers, and this, his best-known novel, begins in the city, before taking readers across post-war America.
Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco
Remember the days before cannabis dispensaries were so ubiquitous? Volz gives readers a taste of her family history running Sticky Fingers Brownies in the ’70s, delivering weed to patrons across the city—and later to AIDS victims in the ’80s.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Author Dave Eggers, who is also one of the founders of local writers’ nonprofit 826 Valencia, writes this fictionalized memoir about the struggle he and his brother faced when both their parents died. See also by Eggers: The Monk of Mokha and The Circle.
Noir: A Novel
Can’t get enough of Dashiell Hammett? Try Christopher Moore for an over-the-top parody of the the noir mystery that lurks behind every corner in San Francisco, featuring lively characters who will make you laugh out loud as they romp through the city.
We Run The Tides
Eighth Grade meets Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in this coming-of-age novel set in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood in the 1980s.
Re-immerse yourself in California’s gold rush history with this novel, as its protagonist follows true love to San Francisco and offers a window into the early days of the city and those who built it from the ground-up during the age of the ’49ers.
Virgin Soul: A Novel
Going to college in the 1960s Bay Area amid the rise of The Black Panthers, the novel’s protagonist Geniece doesn’t just struggle with love and learning, but with the heart of Black liberation.
Just one day in San Francisco, a la Do the Right Thing, can stir up a whole lot of trouble. In this mystery, Plate lets San Francisco's grit shine.
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