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City Lights

San Francisco's status as one of America's best book cities was somewhat threatened by closures over the last decade (RIP Stacey's and A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books). But City Lights is still going strong, and remains a linchpin of the city's robust literary life. Atmospheric and well-stocked, the store's three stories offer a broad and idiosyncratic selection that is conducive to making new discoveries — especially for those who prefer to do so on their own (i.e., sans the paid table placement you find in chain stores). City Lights' publishing program remains strong and eclectic; it recently released a book of short stories by musician Ry Cooder, and maintains an iconic backlist of poetry by Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara and, of course, City Lights founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti (still going strong himself at 93). Add to all of that a calendar bursting with author events, and City Lights is the San Francisco bookstore for dedicated literati, even as it creeps up on its 60th year.

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