All of the lit heavy-hitters read here, more than at any bookstore in the city. At one time or another, Po Bronson, Michael Chabon, Dorothy Allison, Isabel Allende, and Dave Eggers graced the podium at this charming bookstore. And unlike at City Arts and Lectures or the Commonwealth Club, the readings at A Clean Well-Lighted Place are free of charge. The big-name authors draw quite a crowd -- it's standing room only if you do not arrive at least 30 minutes early. Readings (usually four to five per week) are held in the main room with foldout chairs creating an intimate, makeshift setting. A Q&A session follows each reading -- a bonus for budding writers -- providing insight about the author's writing process and literary inspirations. Following the questions, you have the opportunity to get your book (or books) signed and chat briefly with the author -- all the while mingling with other literary devotees. Vive les belles-lettres!
Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness (at Turk), 441-6670, www.bookstore.com