February 17, 2018

Fog City Reads | ALA 2015 Preview

The city of San Francisco has been immortalized in hundreds of books in every genre: the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) keeps a Pinterest page of 81 titles and counting, as well as a “literary landmarks of San Francisco” list in its BiblioCommons catalog, plus separate lists for SF-based chefs and books for kids and teens. Below, a curated selection of reading for those ALA attendees who like to immerse themselves in a sense of place while they travel to the conference. Titles were suggested by Michelle Jeffers, SFPL’s chief, community programs & partnerships, plus LJ staff and LJ columnist Kristin Ramsdell.


  • Bennett, Jenn. Bitter Spirits. Berkley Sensation, 2013.
  • Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tor, 2008.
  • Eggers, Dave. The Circle. Knopf, 2013.
  • Freethy, Barbara. Daniel’s Gift. Avon, 1996.
  • Gaffney, Patricia. Crooked Hearts. Topaz, 1994.
  • Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. Knopf, 1930.
  • Honneyman, Kay. The Fire Horse Girl. Arthur A. Levine Bks., 2013.
  • King, Jay Caspian. The Dead Do Not Improve. Hogarth, 2012.
  • Lee, Gus. China Boy. Dutton, 1991.
  • Maupin, Armistead. Tales of the City. HarperCollins, 1976.
  • Morgan, Seth. Homeboy. Vintage, 1990.
  • Murphy, Pat. The City, Not Long After. Random, 1989.
  • San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics. Akashic, 2009. ed. by Peter Maravelis.
  • Sloan, Robin. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. Farrar, 2012.
  • Tan, Amy. The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Ballantine, 2001.
  • Tea, Michelle. Valencia. SEAL, 2000.
  • Tenorio, Lysley. Monstress: Stories. Ecco: HarperCollins, 2012.


  • Abbott, Alysia. Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father. Norton, 2013.
  • Kamiya, Gary. Cool Grey City of Love: 49 Views of San Fransisco. Bloomsbury USA, 2013.
  • Shilts, Randy. The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. Griffin: St. Martin’s, 1988.
  • Solnit, Rebecca. Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas. Univ. of California, 2010.
  • Talbot, David. Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love. Free Pr., 2012.
  • Torres, Shirley Fong. The Woman Who Ate Chinatown: A San Francisco Odyssey. iUniverse, 2008.


  • Ayers, Charlie. Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chefs Who Fed Google. DK, 2008.
  • Balla, Nick & Cortney Burns. Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes. Chronicle, 2014.
  • Goldstein, Joyce. Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness. Univ. of California, 2013.
  • Keller, Thomas. The French Laundry Cookbook. Artisan, 1999.
  • Phan, Charles. The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food. Ten Speed, 2014. (For more on the Slanted Door restaurant, see “A Taste of San Francisco,” p. 42.)
  • Waters, Alice. 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering. Clarkson Potter: Crown, 2011.


  • Di Prima, Diane. The Poetry Deal. City Lights. (San Francisco Poet Laureate, No. 5). 2014.
  • Ferlinghetti, Lawrence. San Francisco Poems. City Lights. (San Francisco Poet Laureate, No. 1). 2003.
  • Murguía, Alejandro. Stray Poems. City Lights. (San Francisco Poet Laureate, No. 6). 2014.

This article was published in Library Journal's June 1, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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