I recently saw this BuzzFeed Books article called "44 Great American Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit," and it got me thinking about some of the most unique and interesting bookstores I've ever been to.
Number one on my personal list of favorites is probably City Lights Books in San Francisco – a bookstore and publishing house that I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time back in September. City Lights is best known for publishing Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and defending the work against obscenity charges in a high-profile legal case in the '50s. The eclectic bookstore sits across the alley from Vesuvio Café, a bar where high-profile writers such as Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas and more used to get drunk and write (sounds like a pretty good time to me)!
Complete with an entire upstairs floor dedicated to poetry alone, City Lights is definitely a must-visit bookstore on the Golden Coast. One of the best things about the store is its attitude – which is so easily reflected in its second-floor windows, as seen in the photo below.
The small local business offers great deals on used and new books, as well as fresh and delicious looseleaf tea and tea accessories (last time I was there I had an amazing plum oolong, which I highly recommend). Another plus about the shop? You can donate your "unwanted" or already-read books to the store to get a hefty discount off your next purchase!