95 BEST Books About San Francisco – Must Read Books if you Love SF

95 must read books about san francisco

Nikita Khrushchev called it the most beautiful city in the United States, while Ashleigh Brilliant noted that “there may not be a heaven, but there is San Francisco.” Anthony Bourdain said that anyone who doesn’t have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to him.

But the best way to sum it up is through Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “San Francisco has only one drawback – it’s hard to leave.” And it’s true!

One of my favorite ways to ‘travel’ without actually buying a plane ticket is to read books about that place. Get wrapped up in a juicy fiction novel, flip through the photos of a coffee table book … heck, you can even get lost on the streets of a tourist guide (hey there, Lonely Planet!) or fill in the blanks of a coloring book.

No matter if you’ve been to San Francisco a hundred times or are California dreamin’, check out my recommended books below for your next read!

Here is the table of contents – feel free to Control + F if you want to find a particular section :)
Fiction Novels Set in San Francisco / Nonfiction / Essays + Anthology about San Francisco / Travel & Tourist Guides / San Francisco Travel Guides for Kids / Books About Alcatraz / Books About the History of San Francisco / “Photo Books / Coffee Table Books” / Children’s Books About San Francisco / Coloring Books About San Francisco / Architecture Books About San Francisco / Books About the San Francisco Giants / Books About Silicon Valley

BONUS: If you don’t want to pay $10+ for each book, Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited and you can read over 1 million books (including most of these) for $10 a month!

Fiction Novels Set in San Francisco


China Dolls Lisa See - Books about San FranciscoChina Dolls: A Novel by Lisa See

Book Summary: The lives of three young Chinese-American women—Grace, Helen, and Ruby—intersect in pre-WWII San Francisco as they shed their drab former lives to become glamorous entertainers at the city’s rising hot spot, the Forbidden City nightclub. Though they’ve taken a “one for all” vow of eternal loyalty, each harbors secrets that cause a pervasive atmosphere of distrust to simmer just below the surface.

Why I Recommend It: Glamour, envy, betrayal, this book has it all. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, it’s a quick but interesting read with a surprise (!) twist at the end.



tales of the city books about san francisco

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Book Summary: The series follows Mary Ann Singleton, a naive young woman from Cleveland, Ohio, who is visiting San Francisco on vacation when she impulsively decides to stay. She finds an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, the domain of the eccentric, marijuana-growing landlady Anna Madrigal. Mary Ann becomes friends with other tenants of the building: the hippyish, bisexual Mona; lothario Brian Hawkins; the sinister roof tenant Norman; and Michael Tolliver, a sweet and personable gay man.

Why I Recommend It:  Tales of the City is one of my favorite series! Even though it was made and set in the 1970s and 1980s, a lot of the themes are present today. The drama between the main character,Mary Ann, and her friends, boyfriends, coworkers work perfectly together to pull you in.


going to see the elephant books about san franciscoGoing to See the Elephant by Rodes Fishburn

Book Summary: Fishburne’s zany and entertaining first novel tells the story of Slater Brown: Writer Extraordinaire (at least in his own mind), as he whimsically romps through San Francisco. Slater arrives in the city with little more than the clothes on his back and a 250-pound trunk of books. He soon finds himself employed at a down and out newspaper called the Morning Trumpet, where, with the aid of a mystic and a corrupt-beyond-belief mayoral administration, Slater becomes the journalistic toast of the town.

Why I Recommend It:  If you’ve already read Tales of the City and are looking for something similar, this is it. My friend recommended it just based on the characters itself (including the landlord, a fortune teller, the mayor, “hipsters” in a strange cafe, and more).
Fun fact: “Going to see the elephant” was a popular phrase back in the 19th century and means gaining experience at a huge cost. 


maids of misfortune books about san franciscoMaids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke

Book Summary: Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie’s husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take everything to pay off a debt. Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco’s most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl’s clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe his death was suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie believes Voss has been murdered and that his assets have been stolen.




joy luck club amy tan books about san francisco The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Book Summary: In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

Why I Recommend It:  Joy Luck Club is such a classic book – it was part of our reading list in high school, and a few years later I re-read it and watched the film. The stories of the four main characters weave together their past in China and present in San Francisco, where you can still see some of the locations that were mentioned.


no comfort for the lost best books about san franciscoNo Comfort for the Lost / No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman

Book Summary: After serving as a nurse in the Crimea, British-born Celia Davies left her privileged family for an impulsive marriage to a , who brought her to San Francisco but then disappeared and is now presumed dead.  Determined to carry on, Celia partnered with her half-Chinese cousin to open a free medical clinic for women who have nowhere else to turn. But Celia’s carefully constructed peace crumbles when one of her Chinese patients is found brutally murdered…and Celia’s hotheaded brother-in-law stands accused of the crime.

Why I Recommend It:  One of my friend’s favorite “easy reads,” this book (and the sequel, No Pity for the Dead) is an interesting story set in early San Francisco.


confessions of Max Tivoli best books about san franciscoThe Confessions of Max Tivoli / The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer

Book Summary: Born with the physical appearance of an elderly man, Max grows older mentally like any child, but his body appears to age backwards, growing younger every year. And yet, his physical curse proves to be a blessing, allowing him to try to win the heart of the same woman three times as at each successive encounter she fails to recognize him, taking him for a stranger, so giving Max another chance at love.

Why I Recommend It: Finally, a romantic book set in San Francisco! The Confessions of Max Tivoli was one of my favorite reads last year because it’s so beautifully written. Greer has a few other books set in SF, including the one mentioned above (The Story of a Marriage)


1st to die james pattersonWomen’s Murder Club Series by James Patterson

Book Summary: Imagine a killer who thinks, “What is the worst thing anyone has ever done?”–and then goes far beyond it. Now imagine four women –a police detective, an assistant DA, a reporter, and a medical examiner –who join forces as they sidestep their bosses to track down criminals. Known as the Women’s Murder Club, they are pursuing a murderer whose twisted imagination has stunned an entire city. Their chief suspect is a socially prominent writer, but the men in charge won’t touch him. On the trail of the most terrifying and unexpected killer ever, they discover a shocking surprise that turns everything about the case upside down.

Why I Recommend It:  If you’re looking for a looong series to read, Women’s Murder Club is it. There are currently 16 books out (the last one was just released in May) and the story lines are super juicy with a ton of plot twists.


the golden gate vikram seth books about san francisco

The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth

Book Summary: One of the most highly regarded novels of 1986, Vikram Seth’s story in verse made him a literary household name in both the United States and India.
John Brown, a successful yuppie living in 1980s San Francisco meets a romantic interest in Liz, after placing a personal ad in the newspaper. From this interaction, John meets a variety of characters, each with their own values and ideas of “self-actualization.” However, Liz begins to fall in love with John’s best friend, and John realizes his journey of self-discovery has only just begun.

Why I Recommend It:  This book is unlike any other on my list – it’s entirely written in poetic verse. Don’t let that stop you, though! It’s an exciting read about a love triangle that’s hard to put down. The verses might take some time getting used to, but it’s worth it in the end.


if she only knew lisa jackson books about san francisco If She Only Knew by Lisa Jackson

Book Summary: Caught in a blinding glare of headlights, two vehicles swerve and crash—leaving one woman dead, and another in a coma. When the surviving woman awakens, her memory is gone and her face has been reconstructed. Her family tells her that her name is Marla Cahill—but they’re all strangers to her.
Recuperating in her isolated San Francisco mansion, Marla waits for something to trigger recognition. Yet the only thing she’s left with is the unshakable feeling that she is not who everyone says she is, and that something is very, very wrong. Marla knows her life isn’t just different—it’s in danger.






oh the glory of it all by sean wilsey books about san franciscoOh the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey / Oh the Hell of it All by Pat Montandon

Book Summary: Sean’s blond-bombshell mother (one of the characters in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City) is a 1980s society-page staple, regularly entertaining movie stars in her penthouse. When Sean turns nine years old, his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend. Sean’s life blows apart. His mother has a “vision” of salvation that requires packing her Louis Vuitton luggage and traveling the globe. Her goal: peace on earth (and a Nobel Prize). Sean meets Indira Gandhi, Helmut Kohl, Menachem Begin, and the pope, hoping each one might come back to San Francisco and persuade his father to rejoin the family.

Why I Recommend It: Backstabbing, family drama, and a wealth of privilege. Sean Wilsey documents his childhood as the son of a wealthy San Francisco businessman and the 80’s “It Girl,” Pat Montandon. After their marriage falls apart, so does Sean’s life in this crazy page-turning memoir.
Bonus: His mom wrote her version as the subsequent book Oh the Hell of it All


how to love san francisco johanna lemann books about san francisco cable carHow to love San Francisco: One year in the City by the Bay by Johanna Lehmann

Book Summary: By crossing continents Hanni, in her mid-twenties, starts a new life—with unforeseen hurdles. When Hanni gets the offer to work in San Francisco for a year, she doesn’t expect the experience to turn her life upside down. Not only does she become infected by the Silicon Valley virus to start her own company, but she also falls in love with an American guy whose behavior causes her to question her understanding of relationships. Sacrificing German caution for American optimism, Hanni navigates the ups and downs of this bizarre new world.

Why I Recommend It: If you’ve never been to San Francisco before but want to move, definitely read this book. Although it’s a “memoir,” it also serves as a checklist for what to expect in the unique (and sometimes way off) culture in San Francisco.


china boy gus lee books about san francisco chinatownChina Boy by Gus Lee

Book Summary: Kai Ting is the only American-born son of an aristocratic Mandarin family that fled China in the wake of Mao’s revolution. Growing up in San Francisco’s ghetto, Kai is caught between two worlds—embracing neither the Chinese nor the American way of life. After his mother’s death, Kai is suddenly plunged into American culture by his new stepmother, a Philadelphia society woman who tries to erase every vestige of China from the household. Warm, funny, and deeply moving, China Boy is a brilliantly rendered novel of family relationships, culture shock, and the perils of growing up in an America of sharp differences and shared humanity.

Why I Recommend It: As someone who also immigrated to the US at a young age, Lee’s book had me nodding my head when he tries to integrate. Similar to Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club, this book is perfect for adults or young readers.



Essays + Anthology about San Francisco


cool gray city of love books about san franciscoCool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco by Gary Kamiya

Book Summary: A runaway San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, Cool Gray City of Love is a one-of-a-kind book for a one-of-a-kind city. It’s a love song in 49 chapters to an extraordinary place, taking 49 different sites around the city as points of entry and inspiration.  This book is at once a rambling walking tour, a natural and human history, and a celebration of place itself – a guide to loving any place more faithfully and fully.

Why I Recommend It:  San Francisco is known as the 7×7 city, and in this book, Kamiya writes 49 love letters to each district of the city. “Encompassing the city’s Spanish missionary past, a gold rush, a couple of earthquakes, the Beats, the hippies, and the dot-com boom,” and more, it’ll make you want to book a ticket ASAP.



infinite city books about san francisco

Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit

Book Summary: Infinite City, Rebecca Solnit’s brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, searches out the answer by examining the many layers of meaning of the San Francisco Bay Area. Aided by artists, writers, cartographers, and twenty-two gorgeous color maps, each of which illuminates the city and its surroundings as experienced by different inhabitants.

Why I Recommend It:  I was lucky to receive this book as a Christmas present from my company, and although it’s a bit hispter-y, it’s quite a unique gift in its own right. Maps of local cafes; public spaces in San Francisco; and even a juxtaposition of gay bars and butterfly habitats are some of the 22 maps you’ll find in the book.




Book Summary: Take a stroll through the City by the Bay with renowned artist Wendy MacNaughton in this collection of illustrated documentaries. MacNaughton spent months getting to know people in their own neighborhoods, drawing them and recording their words. Her subjects range from the vendors at the farmers’ market to people combing the shelves at the public library, from MUNI drivers to the bison of Golden Gate Park, and much more.

Why I Recommend It:  One of my favorite “light reads,” this book has everything – SF Giants fans, Chinatown grannies, hipsters, and (the extremely rare) native San Franciscans. It’s fun to flip through and get a local’s eye view of the city.



books about san francisco chronicles of old san franciscoChronicles of Old San Francisco by Gael Chandler 

Book Summary: Discover one of the world’s most unique and fascinating cities through 28 dramatic true stories spanning the colorful history of San Francisco. Author Gael Chandler takes readers through more than 250 years of American history. Along the way you’ll meet characters like the city’s Gold Rush entrepreneur Levi Strauss, confectioner Domenico Ghirardelli, gangster Al Capone, the rock legends of Haight-Ashbury, the pioneers of today’s tech boom, and many others who changed the face of the city.

Why I Recommend It:  When I was a little kid, I loved Thursday at my elementary school. Why? Because it was storytime! Each of my classmates would bring a person that he/she thought was interesting, and that person would tell us stories about their life. In a way, this book is exactly the same: there are over two dozen stories from “local” San Franciscans during the city’s most formative years.


San Francisco's Western Neighborhoods books about San FranciscoGrowing Up in San Francisco’s Western Neighborhoods: Boomer Memories from Kezar Stadium to Zim’s Hamburgers 
by Rebecca Solnit

Book Summary: Western Neighborhoods Project columnist and San Francisco native Frank Dunnigan offers a charming collection of nostalgic vignettes about the thriving Western communities of unforgettable people and places that defined generations – From football games at Kezar Stadium, dressing up for a movie at the Fox Theatre, and taking the streetcar downtown to see magnificent displays in the Emporium.

Why I Recommend It:  Although I really wish I could go back to the 50’s and 60’s (just for a day!), this book makes me feel like I’m actually there. Similar to the book above (Chronicles of Old San Francisco), Growing Up is a nostalgic storybook that everyone who lived in San Francisco will remember
(My personal favorite is chapter 4 about MUNI!)


magnificent rogues of San Francisco books about San FranciscoThe Magnificent Rogues of San Francisco: A Gallery of Fakers and Frauds, Rascals and Robber Barons, Scoundrels and Scalawags by Charles Adams

Book Summary: Get ready to meet twenty of the most interesting, bizarre, colorful, and unforgettable characters found in the most interesting city in the world. Includes Shanghai Kelly, Amy Crocker, David Terry, and Sally Stanford.

Why I Recommend It:  If you love intrigue and juicy stories, this book is for you. Learn about some of San Francisco’s most notorious and scandalous characters, including the evil king of Chinatown, a mistress who became a mayor, and our very own “emperor” ;)

Travel & Tourist Guides


San Francisco and Northern California books about San FranciscoDK Eyewitness Travel Guide: San Francisco & Northern California

Book Summary: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: San Francisco & Northern California is your in-depth guide to the very best of San Francisco and its surrounding area.
Experience the greatest attractions the region has to offer, from strolling across the Golden Gate Bridge to sunning with sea lions on Pier 39 to discovering the city’s hottest neighborhoods on walking tours. Plus, check out the best of Northern California with suggested highlights for Mendocino, Napa Valley wine country, national parks, and more.

Why I Recommend It:  My boyfriend got me this book a while back and there’s a reason why it’s at the top of this list – it’s one of the best! I love DK Eyewitness books because they contain pictures and amazing visuals, weather that’s inside an authentic Victorian house, a map of SF attractions, or more. Plus the writing is extremely helpful and descriptive – something that’s definitely useful when planning your trip (or reminiscing about your time here!)


San Francisco Napa Sonoma books about San FranciscoFodor’s San Francisco: with the Best of Napa & Sonoma (Full-color Travel Guide)

Book Summary: With its incredible natural beauty, vibrant neighborhoods, and endless energy, San Francisco is one of the most alluring of U.S. cities. This new Fodor’s book is a traveler’s guide to the best of the best, from how to explore Golden Gate Park and the Mission District’s street art, to where to find the city’s top museums, boutiques, bars, and restaurants.

Why I Recommend It: Fodor’s guide books are always fun to flip through, if not for the information, then for the photos. This guide also goes beyond the typical guide book and includes special sections like Traveling to San Francisco with Kids, a list of walking tours, and a few sample itineraries for those who want to leave the planning to the experts 

Fun Fact: The man who founded Fodor’s Travels, Eugene Fodor, was a Hungarian translator who sailed around the world and eventually became a travel correspondant. 


100 things to do in San Francisco before you die books about San Francisco

100 Things to Do in San Francisco Before You Die by Eve Batey & Patricia Corrigan

Book Summary: In 100 Things to Do in San Francisco Before You Die, the authors talk top attractions – the famous Painted Ladies, the bridges, the countless scenic vistas – but they focus on guiding visitors and residents alike to the out-of-the-way places that locals love … where to grab a Mission-style burrito, introduce the kids to a giant Pacific octopus, get tipsy on an alcoholic malt, buy tie-dye in Haight-Ashbury, track down a food cart selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and more.

Why I Recommend It: For those who have done the “touristy” things and are looking for some hidden gems, this book is for you. There are four main categories – Food and Drink, Music and Entertainment, Culture and History, and Shopping and Fashion – filled with a ton of new and familiar ideas. I’ve done a little more than half on this list (56) because I’ve really been doing more in some areas (Culture/History) and slacking on others (Restaurants and Shopping). Some of the places I haven’t even heard of – time to get cracking and get to 100! 



Lonely Planet San Francisco (Travel Guide)books about san francisco lonely planet

Book Summary: Lonely Planet San Francisco is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Loll in Golden Gate Park, stroll across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, get spooked at Alcatraz, ride a legendary cable car, maneuver down the crookedest street in the world, or take a day trip to wine-soaked Napa Valley; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of San Francisco and begin your journey now!

Why I Recommend It: Lonely Planet is such a classical guidebook (I still have mine from Brazil and Japan), but what I love about this is that they try to infuse San Francisco’s personality into the guide. For example: how much of a budget you should have to buy your daily burrito, when to book your Alcatraz tickets, and where to catch the cable car.



books about san francisco cable car pocket san francisco lonely planet

Lonely Planet Pocket San Francisco (Travel Guide)

Book Summary: Lonely Planet Pocket San Francisco is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you.

Why I Recommend It: If you want expert travel advice without having to lug around a huge book in your backpack, the Pocket San Francisco is perfect. It fits in the palm of your hand (really!) and includes all of the best features of the full-sized book, including a Quickstart Guide and Survival Guide.




best books san francisco 111 places you must not miss 111 Places in San Francisco That You Must Not Miss by Floriana Petersen

Book Summary: San Francisco is a treasure trove of unusual neighborhood sights and places that sparkle with the allure of hidden pleasures and local lore. Discover a stairway that transports you from the depths of the ocean to the heights of outer space; take a spin class amidst the grand elegance of a repurposed 1920s movie palace; or slide down a century-old sundial that sits at the center of what was once California’s first racetrack for cars.
This is the real San Francisco.

Why I Recommend It: If you’re tired of the tourist guides above (), pick up the 111 Places in San Francisco book. It’s full of “underground” and off the beaten path places, including the bank Patty Hearst robbed, a porno studio, and one of the most exclusive clubs in the world.


books about san francisco walking tourWalking San Francisco: 33 Savvy Tours Exploring Steep Streets, Grand Hotels, Dive Bars, and Waterfront Parks by Tom Downs

Book Summary: This savvy, entertaining guide explores the best of the city “on the ground” in tours that traverse its length and breadth. The 33 urban treks are a great way to soak up the history, culture, and vibe of the City by the Bay. The walk’s commentary includes trivia about architecture, local culture, and neighborhood history, plus tips on where to dine, have a drink, or shop.

Why I Recommend It: San Francisco is one of those cities where you can live your entire life without a car. The public transport is fantastic, but the real fun is walking around neighborhoods and finding hidden gems – a colorful Victorian house, an interesting mural, heck, even a cute Shiba in PacHeights (true story). I love this book because it breaks everything down based on your preference, like the difficulty level, length, and where to find parking – and gives you step by step directions and fun facts.


frommers easyguide san francisco best book travel Frommer’s EasyGuide to San Francisco (Easy Guides) by Erika Lenkert

Book Summary: A brilliant wit once said that, “to most Americans, even though they have never been there, San Francisco is their favorite town”. It is truly “the favorite town” of America, and no agrees more than our author. Here is her thoroughly revised 256-page tribute to a massively popular destination.

Why I Recommend It: Similar to the Lonely Planet Pocket book above, this EasyGuide is excellent if you want something light and easy to carry with you (or to put on your Kindle ). It doesn’t overwhelm you with a thousand details of where to eat, where to stay, and so on – this book just lists 5 to 10 of the best. And that’s it!
Note: Don’t miss The Best Offbeat Experiences section!



33 getaways from san francisco best books travel33 Getaways from San Francisco that you Must Not Miss by Marissa Guggiana

Book Summary: Go off the beaten path to discover 33 weekend getaways in the San Francisco Bay Area; the ultimate insider’s getaway guide. Features interesting and unusual places not found in traditional travel guides

Why I Recommend It: First of all, can we take a second to appreciate the gorgeous cover? Alright, perfect. If you’ve literally exhausted every touristy, non-touristy, and unusual thing to do in San Francisco, it’s time to move on … to the rest of the Bay Area. This book, an extension of the 111 Places In SF mentioned above, features 33 new places in Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Sonoma, and San Mateo to explore.



why is that bridge orange golden gate bridge san francisco booksWhy Is That Bridge Orange? San Francisco for the Curious by Art Peterson

Book Summary: Why Is That Bridge Orange? links everyday sights that are the fabric of San Francisco with answers to nagging questions that tantalize the curious. Why is Lombard Street crooked? How does a cable car work? Why are there windmills at Ocean Beach? In 240 pages, 86 of these conundrums are resolved, supported by dozens of contemporary and historical photos.

Why I Recommend It: Having lived in the Bay Area for over 80 years, tourists would constantly pass by Peterson’s Telegraph Hill home and ask – Why are there parrots near Coit Tower? That was the basis of this book. Peterson went through thousands of old newspaper clippings and took four years to compile this book, which includes over 80 witty answers to our burning questions. If you’re wondering about the bridge, check chapter 36 :)


the hunt san francisco books about san francisco

The HUNT San Francisco by Lauren Ladoceour 

Book Summary: The HUNT team has donned our curatorial colored glasses and carefully selected 100 or so unique, authentic local San Fran businesses that range from eye-popping and brand spankin’ new to WAY off the beaten path, funky and unexpected to chic and shiny.

Why I Recommend It: For those who want to jump off the beaten path and try the places where locals hang out, The Hunt is perfect. Lauren, a SF native, travels around the city looking for the best restaurants, bars, stores, lounges, cafes, boutiques, and more in this book.



san francisco city's sights and secrets books about san francisco

San Francisco: The City’s Sights and Secrets Paperback by Leah Garchik

Book Summary: Discover the beauty of San Francisco, its hidden charms, and its well-loved sights in this unforgettable photographic tour. Some of San Francisco’s most renowned photographers, including Bill Hanapple, Richard Blair, Don Kellogg, and Tom Tracy, have captured new perspectives of the City with spectacular images of its most celebrated landmarks, from Coit Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid to lesser-known but equally beautiful features, such as the flower-lined Filbert Street steps and the charming alleys of Russian Hill.

Why I Recommend It: This was one of the first books I got, and it’s still one of the best in my collection. What sets it apart from other books about San Francisco is that each page is filled with beautiful photography of the city. I highly recommend it for photographers and bloggers who need ideas on their next place to photoshoot.

little black book of San Francisco books about san franciscoThe Little Black Book of San Francisco 

Book Summary: With user-friendly fold-out maps and insider tips, this hip Little Black Book of San Francisco walks you through the best the City by the Bay has to offer. Includes 10 fold-out maps, and 9 neighborhood maps and a San Francisco transportation map. ”Notes” pages let you record your own discoveries. Color-coded, numbered entries in the text are keyed to full-color neighborhood maps in each chapter.

Why I Recommend It: When I moved to San Francisco, this was one of the first books my friends gave to me – “so you wouldn’t get lost,” they said. And I didn’t.
I love how small this book is – it’s only 4 by 6 inches and easily fits in most bags or purses. There are 10 handy little maps for navigating the city, plus a ton of great local advice.



Newcomer's Handbook to moving and living in the San Francisco Bay Area books about San Francisco

Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in the San Francisco Bay Area by Daniel King

Book Summary: This 467-page new edition maintains its strong focus on both San Francisco and the entire region, especially Silicon Valley. Of the 200 pages devoted exclusively to discussion of neighborhoods and communities, 50% describe San Francisco neighborhoods and North Bay communities, while 50% focus on the East Bay, Peninsula, and South Bay towns.

Why I Recommend It: If you’re planning to move to SF (like the title says ), this book is perfect. It covers hot topics like start-ups, Silicon Valley, expensive rent, where to go, and more.





cheap bastards guide to san francisco books about san francisco

Cheap Bastard’s Guide to San Francisco: Secrets Of Living The Good Life For Less by Lauren Markham

Book Summary: Cheap Bastard’s Guide to San Francisco details endless free and inexpensive opportunities available in the City by the Bay from theater, concerts, and museums to wine tastings, yoga classes, haircuts, and massages––for native and visiting cheapskates alike. Written in a fun, humorous tone, this unique guide offers sound advice on how to live the good life on the cheap!

Why I Recommend It: As a self-proclaimed cheap bastard, this is one of my favorite books for saving money in San Francisco. It includes everything from museums, yoga classes, food, and even health care. Weather you plan to move here or just visit, definitely read through this book to get some great tips!



san francisco noir books about san franciscoSan Francisco Noir by Nathaniel Rich

Book Summary: With its reputation as a shadowy land of easy vice and hard virtue, San Francisco provided the ideal setting for many of the greatest films noir. Readers visit the Mission Dolores cemetery where James Stewart spied Kim Novak visiting Carlotta’s grave in Vertigo; the Steinhart Aquarium, where a steamy love scene unfolded between Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai; and the Kezar Stadium, where Clint Eastwood captures the serial killer, Scorpio, in a blaze of ghastly white light in Dirty Harry. In this guide to the great films noir and the locations where they were shot, the mythic noir city meets San Francisco’s own dark past.

Why I Recommend It: This is a perfect book for movie buffs, especially those interested in thriller and noir titles. It includes insider info on each film shot in San Francisco, plus the exact locations that you can visit in the city.


michelin guide san francisco 2017 best books san franciscoMICHELIN Guide to San Francisco 

Book Summary: Locals and travelers looking for great places to eat turn to the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country with carefully researched, objective recommendations to more than 500 mouthwatering restaurants representing 50+ different cuisines. Anonymous experienced inspectors use the renowned Michelin food star rating system to craft an objective list of suggested restaurants. The selection offers choices for all palates and pocketbooks.



San Francisco Travel Guides for Kids


A kids guide to San Francisco cable cars best books about san francisco

A Kid’s Guide to San Francisco by Sarah Day

Book Summary: Welcome to Yerba Buena! That’s what San Francisco used to be called until the United Sates took it over way back in 1847. That’s just one of a bucketful of cool things to find out about one of the most exciting, and kid-friendly cities in the country. This book can be your own personal tour guide as you venture up and down hills to explore dozens of landmarks all over the city from the awesome Golden Gate Bridge, to the gingerbread- style Painted Ladies, Fisherman’s Wharf, and crazy twisted Lombard Street. There’s so much to discover here in the City by the Bay.

Why I recommend it: A Kid’s Guide to San Francisco makes traveling to SF fun, with a user-friendly, A to Z format that covers a little bit of everything including history, art, culture, music, sports and more. It’s easy to read and is illustrated with tons of beautiful color photos and even stickers that you can add to places you’ve been to.


the kid's guide to san francisco books about san francisco

The Kid’s Guide to San Francisco by Eileen Ogintz

Book Summary: Before you plan your family’s next excursion, get some help from a travel professional… and your kids! Kid’s Guide to San Francisco lets the kids help plan the trip and guides you as you explore this California destination. Inside you’ll find kid-tested tips on where to go, where to eat, what to see, and where to get the best souvenirs. Along the way, your kids will be engaged by reading and sharing fun facts and cool travel tips. Fun for both visiting and local kids.

Why I Recommend It: Similar to the book above (the almost have the same name!), The Kid’s Guide to San Francisco has a ton of fun facts, quizzes, and activities for their visit to the city.



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Kid’s Travel Guide to San Francisco by Sheila Leon

Book Summary: Make sure your kids get the most out of the trip with the Kids’ Travel Guide – San Francisco. Together with Leonardo, their very own tour guide, your kids will have so much fun discovering San Francisco—its history and geography, famous landmarks and attractions—and exploring the best sites for children. Leonardo makes it interesting with “juicy information,” challenging quizzes, special tasks, and colorful activities.

Why I Recommend It: I love this book because it has it’s own little tour guide, Leonardo, and takes kids to all of the famous SF landmarks like Chinatown, the cable cars, Lombard St, and more!


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Hey Kids! Let’s Visit San Francisco: Fun Facts and Amazing Discoveries for Kids by Teresa Mills

Book Summary: Full of photos and fun facts about San Francisco and some San Francisco attractions (and some fun side trips), this San Francisco Travel Guide for kids is great whether you are preparing for a San Francisco vacation with the family, or simply want to learn a little more about this great city.


Books About Alcatraz

Alcatraz A History of the Penitentiary Years best books about san francisco

Alcatraz: A History of the Penitentiary Years by Michael Esslinger

Book Summary: MMichael Esslinger thoroughly details the prominent events, inmates, and life inside the most infamous prison in American History. His research included hundreds of hours examining actual Alcatraz inmate case files (including rare original documents from Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and over a hundred others) exploring the prison grounds from the rooftop to the waterfront to help retrace events, escape routes, in addition to conducting various interviews with former inmates & guards.

Why I Recommend It: There’s a reason why this book is the first on this list of Best Books about Alcatraz – and that’s because it’s the most comprehensive and informative. With over 600 pages, it includes everything from the most famous inmates, to the architecture of Alcatraz, the prison wardens, and even what the inmates ate (!)


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Escape from Alcatraz by Bruce Campbell

Book Summary: MAuthor J. Campbell Bruce chronicles in spellbinding detail the Rock’s transition from a Spanish fort to the maximum-security penitentiary that housed such infamous inmates as Robert Stroud, aka the Birdman of Alcatraz, and mobster Al “Scarface” Capone. The chapters describing the daring escape attempts by Frank Morris and two accomplices from this “inescapable” prison became the basis for the 1979 Clint Eastwood movie. Discover the intriguing and absorbing saga of Alcatraz.

Why I Recommend It: This book is a fairly easy read that’s interesting and informative. It’s also perfect because it was published around the time Alcatraz was running (in the 1960s) and contains a lot of the original information at that time!



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History of Alcatraz Island, 1853-2008 by Gregory L. Wellman

Book Summary: MGregory L. Wellman, a member of the Wells Fargo Historical Services Department and the California Historical Society, reveals in these images the role of Alcatraz since 1853. The island’s startling transformation comes alive through the photographic collections of the Alcatraz Alumni Association, the Golden Gate National Archives, and other private collections from around the country. This stirring imagery documents the evolution of one of America’s most renowned and memorable landmarks.

Why I Recommend It: If you’re more of a visual reader (like me!), you’ll love this book. It’s filled with more than 100 photographs of Alcatraz from its early history (in the 19th centuary) to now.



alcatraz history and design of a landmark best books about san franciscoAlcatraz: History and Design of a Landmark by Donald MacDonald

Book Summary: This enlightening volume provides the first complete history of Alcatraz told through its architecture. In friendly illustrations and accessible text,  the authors reveal the design decisions that have shaped the island from its first brick and masonry fortress to the infamous concrete cellblock, to the landscape design of its contemporary gardens and bird sanctuaries. Packed with intriguing facts throughout, this little treasure allows an unprecedented glimpse into the life of the island.

Why I Recommend It: If you’re an architecture buff, this is the book for you. It contains all you need to know about how Alcatraz was built, plus a little bit of history as well!


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Al Capone Does My Shirts (Tales from Alcatraz) by Gennifer Choldenko

Book Summary: In this appealing novel set in 1935, 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to Alcatraz Island where his father gets a job as an electrician at the prison. Family dilemmas are at the center of the story, but history and setting–including plenty of references to the prison’s most infamous inmate, mob boss Al Capone–play an important part, too.

Why I Recommend It: Finally, we finish this list by including a children’s book. This is a cute, coming of age story with Moose as the central character and his friends living on Alcatraz island. It’s a great read for grade school kids, and would be perfect to read through before visiting the actual Alcatraz. :)

Bonus: This is a series!



Books About the History of San Francisco

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1906 San Francisco Earthquake by Richard Hansen

Book Summary: The 1906 San Francisco earthquake is one of the most famous natural disasters in American history. Noted San Francisco historians Richard and Gladys Hansen combine talents to produce this fascinating photo-history of that momentous event.

Why I Recommend It: Similar to the Alcatraz photo book above, this one is jam-packed with images a snippets of history about the earthquake – in 127 pages.





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Book Summary: Captured here in over 200 vintage images are the life and times of the city’s earliest residents and their livelihoods. Spanning the mid-1800s through the early decades of the 20th century, this book offers a visual account of early life in San Francisco, from family outings at Golden Gate Park, to the images of San Franciscans rebuilding their city after the devastating Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Also pictured are the joyous occasions, including the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, the openings of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges, and the 1939 World’s Fair.

Why I Recommend It: It’s an interesting and eye-opening look into the beginning of San Francisco and its residents.


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Lost San Francisco by Dennis Evanovsky

Book Summary: Looks at how a city used to run—the old transport systems, former city halls, stores, and theaters. Aspects of lost San Francisco that are examined here include the Victorian Alcatraz, Cliff House Hotel before it burned down, the early Embarcadero, the grandeur of the Sutro Baths both outside and in, the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition buildings, and more.

Why I Recommend It: If you love to travel back in time, I highly recommend this book. Filled with gorgeous photos of the past, it includes retro favorites like the Cliff House, Haight-Ashbury, and the start of the Victorian houses.


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Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide by Rand Richards

Book Summary: Despite the devastation of 1906, historic buildings and artifacts survive from every period of San Francisco’s history. This lively narrative of The City from its very beginnings all the way through the earthquake of 1989 tells how to find the historic buildings, sights, and artifacts that make that history come alive.

Why I Recommend It: Aside from the chapter on the magestic Cliff House, I recommend this book because it includes a wealth if information on Victorian houses (including the last Nob Hill mansion).




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A Short History of San Francisco by Tom Cole

Book Summary: This is the story of San Francisco, a unique and rowdy tale with a legendary cast of characters. It tells of the Indians and the Spanish missions, the arrival of thousands of gold seekers and gamblers, crackbrains and dreamers, the building of the transcontinental railroad and the cable car, labor strife and political shenanigans, the 1906 earthquake and fire, two World Wars, two World’s Fairs, two great bridges, the beatniks and hippies and New Left–a story that is so marvelous and wild that it must be true

Why I Recommend It: Although it’s a fairly short book, it leaves almost nothing out of San Francisco’s long and wild history.




Photo Books / Coffee Table Books

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San Francisco, Portrait of a City: 1940-1960 by Fred Lyon

Book Summary: With a landmark around every corner and a picture perfect view atop every hill, San Francisco might be the world’s most picturesque city. In Portrait of a City, Fred Lyon captures the iconic landscapes that transformed the city by the bay into a legend. Lyon’s anecdotes and personal remembrances, including sly portraits of San Francisco characters such as writer Herb Caen, painters Richard Diebenkorn and Jean Varda add an artist’s first-hand view.

Why I Recommend It: Go behind the lens of one of San Francisco’s most prolific photographers (and one of my favorites) – the photos are amazing!



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San Francisco Then and Now by Eric J. Kos

Book Summary: Discover the “City by the Bay” in this all-new edition of San Francisco Then and Now. Filled with amazing then-and-now photographs, some previously unpublished, that include cable cars, the Ferry Building, Palace of Fine Arts, and the Transamerica Pyramid, all the city’s most popular attractions.



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See San Francisco by Victoria Smith

Book Summary: From internationally popular design blogger SF Girl By Bay comes the ultimate love letter to San Francisco. This gorgeously photographed lifestyle guide gives readers an insider’s tour of the City by the Bay through Victoria Smith’s unique lens. Organized by neighborhood, each chapter features enchanting photos of hidden corners, local color, landmarks, and hot spots, revealing why so many people, Victoria included, fall head over heels for this amazing city.

Why I Recommend It: For the dreamy photos and gorgeous sights of San Francisco!



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Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo by Annice Jacoby

Book Summary: With 600 stunning photographs, this comprehensive book showcases more than three decades of street art in San Francisco’s legendary Mission District. Beginning in the early 1970s, a provocative street-art movement combining elements of Mexican mural painting, surrealism, pop art, urban punk, eco-warrior, cartoon, and graffiti has flourished in this dynamic, multicultural community.

Why I Recommend It: Colorful murals and background information make it the perfect gift for street art enthusiasts.



Children’s Books About San Francisco

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This is San Francisco by Miroslav Sasek

Book Summary: Let the rumbling cable car tell you the story! And what a story: From the crookedest street in the world to the Peking ducks in Chinatown, San Francisco is easily one of the world’s most enchanting cities. Illustrator Miroslav Sasek captures both the breathtaking landscape and the cosmopolitan flavor of the City by the Bay in This is San Francisco.

Why I Recommend It: The retro illustrations and friendly voice of this book make it a great gift to any kid who wants to visit (or is visiting) San Francisco!




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Color This Book: San Francisco by Abbi Jacobson

Book Summary: A fun keepsake for visitors and SF natives of all ages, this coloring book includes over 30 unique illustrations of San Francisco. From architectural landmarks and cultural attractions to must-see neighborhoods and everyday street scenes, Color this Book captures the beauty and personality of San Francisco. Includes the Castro, the Ferry Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Mission, North Beach, and more!


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Good Night San Francisco by Adam Gamble

Book Summary: Good Night San Francisco highlights the San Francisco Bay, sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Lombard Street, Exploratorium, historic ships, fishing boats, Palace of Fine Arts, The Thinker statue, and more. What could be more exciting for young readers than touring the fascinating city of San Francisco? Children will be lulled into a peaceful night’s sleep while visiting the city’s famous landmarks and attractions.



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San Francisco, Baby! by Ward Jenkins

Book Summary: Two babies go on two big-city adventures, and there are so many exciting sights to see! In San Francisco, Baby!, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz are some of the main attractions. Rhyming text and charming illustrations make these picture books perfect for babies—and parents—who are always on the go, or who have big-city dreams.




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San Francisco: A Book of Numbers by Ashley Evanson

Book Summary: Hello, World is an exciting board book series that pairs early learning concepts with colorful, stylish illustrations of cities around the world.
From the Golden Gate Bridge to seals to cable cars, there’s no shortage of bright, bold, and interesting things to count in San Francisco. Explore numbers through the best the city has to offer in this gorgeous board book!



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Larry Gets Lost in San Francisco by John Skewes

Book Summary: Follow the fun adventures of the dog Larry, who after chasing down a donut, loses his owners and travels around the city’s landmarks and cultural attractions before reuniting with his family. Filled with candy-colored retro illustrations, this book provides children with a dog’s eye view of the City by the Bay.







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San Francisco ABC’s by Gus D’Angelo

Book Summary: From Alcatraz to the SF Zoo, a cast of fun, colorful animals guide kids on an alphabetical, insider’s tour of the legendary City by the Bay. Combining engaging illustrations and alliterative wordplay, this hip board book teaches kids the alphabet while they learn about San Francisco – from the Golden Gate Bridge and the Cable Cars to internet investors and Haight Street hippies. The perfect gift for any junior San Franciscan!



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San Francisco: The Alphabet Book: An A to Z Journey Through San Francisco’s Sights and History Hardcover by Matt Weber

Book Summary: Taking readers on an alphabetic journey through the sights and history of San Francisco, this book tours the city from A for Alcatraz to Z for the zig-zag of Lombard Street and all the letters in between. Children will enjoy the rhymes, sketches, full-color photographs, and fun facts that accompany each letter of the alphabet.


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123 San Francisco: A Cool Counting Book by Puck

Book Summary: Kids will count to 10 with some of San Francisco’s most beloved symbols—the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, fortune cookies, Dungeness crabs, and the sea lions on Pier 39—in this board book featuring contemporary illustrations, dazzling colors, and bold, clear design. The end of the book includes a complete location list, in both English and Spanish, to help parents locate the symbols and landmarks and plan an entertaining trip to San Francisco.



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Nate the Great, San Francisco Detective by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Book Summary: Nate, the great detective, and his dog, Sludge, are off to San Francisco! They’re going to visit Nate’s cousin Olivia Sharp. She’s a detective, too, and a very busy one. Olivia isn’t around to solve her case number 22. Her client, Duncan, has lost his joke book. He tells Nate that if the book isn’t found–and soon–the world will come to an end.







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Play Around the Bay by SFMOTC

Book Summary: This is the number one guide for advice on where to go, when, why, and how from mothers who have tested every location for great outings in the Bay Area. Developed by the San Francisco Mothers of Twins Club, Play Around the Bay gives you everything a parent needs to know straight from their own experiences, multiplied by two! This book provides a directory of parks, playgrounds, zoos, museums, nature walks, and other activities for children under the age of six.





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San Francisco Baby by Tess Shea

Book Summary: In this snapshot of San Francisco, spirited and charming images pair with quirky text to guide young readers through this unique city. Babies act as tour guides, showcasing where they live and play in the city while providing an authentic tour of all things local in this sturdy and appealing board book. From famed attractions to iconic landmarks, this educational and entertaining read captures the essence of what it means to live in and visit the City by the Bay.



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The Cable Car and the Dragon by Herb Caen

Book Summary: This is the rollicking tale of the adventures of Charlie, the youngest cable car. Only sixty years old, he is tired of the same old rut. One night as he’s puffing himself up Nob Hill, he hears a lot of excitement down below: Chinese New year! Suddenly, Charlie takes a right turn at Jackson Street and finds himself in the middle of the parade. There he meets a friendly dragon named Chu Chin Chow, who is bored with his job. Charlie treats Chu to a cable car ride that looks as if it will end in a disastrous plunge into the San Francisco Bay–unless a miracle occurs.


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Humphrey the Lost Whale by Wendy Tokuda

Book Summary: In October 1985 a forty-five-foot long, forty-ton humpback whale wandered into San Francisco Bay and for twenty-six days struggled mightily to find his way back to the ocean. This true, illustrated story of Humphrey’s adventure has been a children’s favorite for more than twenty-five years.






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San Francisco Secrets: Fanscinating Facts about the City by the Bay by John Snyder

Book Summary: Did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is designed to sway 27 feet in an earthquake? Or that famous Lombard Street, the Crookedest Street in the World actually isnt even the crookedest street in San Francisco? Written by the same author who brought us Play Ball and other best-selling trivia books, this quirky compendium of fun facts and stories about The City is cut in the shape of the Golden Gate Bridge.



sasha the san francisco sealion best books for kidsSasha the San Francisco Sea Lion by Ron Berman

Book Summary: Thousands of children, both local and tourist, have enjoyed following Sasha around San Francisco. Sasha is the Pier 39 Sea Lion who decided to tour the town. He checks in to the Fairmont Hotel, skateboards down the crookedest street, swims to Marin, visits Alcatraz, takes in a Giants game, joins in the Chinese New Year parade and more. Fun for kids of any age. Parents and grandparents like it, too.







Coloring Books About San Francisco

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Iconic San Francisco Coloring Book by Emily Isabella

Book Summary: The Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Chinatown . . these are some of the symbolic images of San Francisco captured in Iconic San Francisco Coloring Book. Twenty-four of these magnificent sights are portrayed in detailed line drawings filled with patterns, abstracts, and florals that are fun to fill in.






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Victorian Buildings of San Francisco Coloring Book by Shirley Salzman

Book Summary: Adults are invited to express their sense of color and creativity in this book of lovingly detailed drawings of San Francisco’s Victorian-era buildings. In pen and ink, artist Shirley Salzman depicts a spectrum of styles within the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901. The black-and-white sketches are printed on high-quality watercolor paper in an open-flat format and can be framed as they are or imaginatively embellished.



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Color San Francisco: 20 Views to Color in by Hand by Emma Kelly

Book Summary: Discover the City by the Bay as never before in this enchanting coloring book filled with twenty intricate line drawings that capture San Francisco. An urban environment mixed with a dramatic natural landscape makes San Francisco one of the most unique and picturesque cities in the world. Color San Francisco captures the magic and splendor of the scenery and iconic locations that make this city so memorable, from the majestic Golden Gate Bridge and historic Chinatown to lesser-known spots like hip hangout Dolores Park and the landmark art museum the de Young.



Architecture Books About San Francisco


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Into the Void Pacific: Building the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair by Andrew Shanken, Ph.D

Book Summary: Into the Void Pacific is the first architectural history of the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair. Architects took up the theme and projected the regionalist sensibilities of Northern California onto Asian and Latin American architecture. Their buildings drew widely on the cultural traditions of ancient Cambodia, China, and Mexico, as well as the International Style, Art Deco, and the Bay Region Tradition. With chapters organized around the creation of Treasure Island and the key areas and pavilions of the fair, this study takes a cut through the work of William Wurster, Bernard Maybeck, and Arthur Brown, Jr., among others.


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Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area by Susan Cerny

Book Summary: An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area is the definitive guide to the history and architecture of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. This compendium has been written and photographed by Susan Cerny and twelve Bay Area experts and provides a historic record of how the area developed to became what it is today, and discusses transportation systems, city and suburban landscape plans, public parkland, California history, and economic, social, and political influences.




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Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings by John King

Book Summary: Buildings in cities are remarkable things: they provide not only shelter but touchstones of reference and recall, a language that shapes our sense of place as well as the skyline. In sparkling prose and with full-color photography, Cityscapes looks at fifty buildings that convey a distinct slice of San Francisco.  Included are some of San Francisco’s most familiar buildings and works by some of architecture’s biggest names but also plenty of buildings that are often ignored yet add a unique texture to this fabled place.



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Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco by John King

Book Summary: Part pocket guide, part history, and part architectural primer, Cityscapes: San Francisco and Its Buildings contains all of the wit and wonder of the first installment. In epigrammatic prose and with detailed full-color photographs, King highlights fifty structures that tell the story of San Francisco through architecture. Included are emblematic buildings such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and the Palace of Fine Arts; but King pays just as close attention to less celebrated structures that embody the politics, architectural fads, and cultural values of the eras in which they were conceived.



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National Trust Guide/San Francisco: America’s Guide for Architecture and History Travelers by Peter Booth Wiley

Book Summary: The complete guide to the history and architecture of San Francisco Part history, part travel guide, this unique book introduces you to the colorful past and diverse traditions that have shaped San Francisco. Follow the book’s outstanding walking tours as you explore the remnants of the Gold Rush era city and the early neighborhoods of Telegraph Hill, Chinatown, and South of Market. You’ll also enjoy the beautiful Beaux-Arts mansions of Pacific Heights, the striking Queen Anne residences of Haight-Ashbury, the converted warehouses of the Multi-Media Gulch, and much more.



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Painted Ladies Revisited: San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians Inside and Out by Elizabeth Pomada

Book Summary: This new volume in Pomada and Larsen’s popular series on Victorian restoration in San Francisco surveys recent additions to that city’s trove of ebullient renovated gingerbread.






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San Francisco Architecture: An Illustrated Guide to the Outstanding Buildings, Public Art Works, and Parks in the Bay Area of California by John Woodbridge

Book Summary: This completely revised and updated guide offers a comprehensive catalog of noteworthy and representative sites, including residential and commercial buildings, parks, and public art works, each illustrated by an accompanying photograph. A completely revised and updated guide to San Francisco Bay Area architecture with new entries, photographs, and maps. Illustrated with more than 600 photographs.Of the many guidebooks on the San Francisco Bay Area, this is the only one to offer a comprehensive catalog of architectural sites.


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Frank Lloyd Wright and San Francisco by Paul Turner

Book Summary: An unprecedented look at the architect’s storied relationship with San Francisco and the Bay Area. Paul V. Turner looks at the architect’s complex and evolving relationship with the city, surveying the full body of Wright’s work in the Bay Area—roughly thirty projects, a third of which were built. Spanning 1900 to 1959, they include houses, a gift shop, a civic center, a skyscraper, a church, an industrial building, a mortuary, and a bridge across the San Francisco Bay.


Books About the San Francisco Giants

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Tales from the San Francisco Giants Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Giants Stories Ever Told by Nick Peters

Book Summary: Fans continue to flock to AT&T Park to support their team, and will find just as much excitement within the pages of the newly updated Tales from the San Francisco Giants Dugout.
Author Nick Peters captures some of the humorous and poignant moments of the team’s years on the West Coast. From the intense rivalry with the Dodgers and the age of Willie Mays to amazing World Series victories, this book has all that a Giants fan needs and will certainly want.




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100 Things Giants Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Bill Chastain

Book Summary: Longtime sportswriter Bill Chastain has collected every essential piece of Giants knowledge and trivia, as well as must-do activities, and ranks them from 1 to 100, providing an entertaining and easy-to-follow checklist that leads the way to achieving fan superstardom. This updated World Series edition features the Giants’ unforgettable 2012 season, including Cain’s perfect game, Posey’s MVP season, and the team’s comeback playoff triumphs before sweeping Detroit.





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A Book of Walks by Bruce Bochy

Book Summary: Walking can do anyone good – and Bruce Bochy knows that as well as anyone. As a Major League manager, he has one of the more stressful jobs imaginable. So what does he do to relax? He goes for long walks. Whenever possible, he takes long walks as a way to clear his head, calm his soul and give his body a workout. In this charming little volume, he shares his thoughts on walking in terms that can inspire everyone to get out more often for a good walk, a great way to stay fit and healthy through the forties and fifties and beyond. Along the way he provides glimpses into his life and character that will delight his many fans.




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Great Giants Stories Every Young Fan Should Know by Julie Jackson

Book Summary: If you’re a San Francisco Giants fan, this book is for you! The Giants have a proud winning tradition that goes back to New York City and the very beginnings of professional baseball. In this book you’ll find stories of all the greatest Giants heroes, from old-timers like John McGraw and Christy Mathewson to the mighty Mays, McCovey, and Marichal, all the way through the World Series Champions of 2010, 2012, and 2014. You’ll get to experience all the thrills (and the occasional heartbreaks) for yourself as you relive some of the team’s most memorable moments.




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The Big 50: San Francisco Giants: The Men and Moments that Made the San Francisco Giants by Daniel Brown

Book Summary: The Big 50: San Francisco Giants is an amazing, full-color look at the 50 men and moments that made the Giants the Giants. Experienced Bay-area sportswriter Daniel Brown recounts the living history of the Giants, counting down from No. 50 to No. 1. The Big 50: San Francisco Giants brilliantly brings to life the Giants remarkable story, from Willie McCovey and Will Clark to the roller-coaster that was Barry Bonds to the team’s current dynasty and Madison Bumgarner shutting down the Royals in the 2014 World Series.





San Francisco Books About Hiking

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60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Francisco: Including North Bay, East Bay, Peninsula, and South Bay by Jane Huber

Book Summary: Bay Area parks and preserves offer a dramatic variety of landscapes, from rugged redwood-forested canyons to breezy coastal bluffs, grassy rolling hills to sunny chaparral-coated hillsides. Well-known destinations such as Point Reyes National Seashore, Mount Diablo State Park, Mount Tamalpais State Park, and many other more obscure jewels of the Bay Area park system are just a short drive from the heart of San Francisco.





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Best Easy Day Hikes San Francisco Peninsula by Tracy Salcedo

Book Summary: Best Easy Day Hikes San Francisco Peninsula features concise descriptions and easy-to-follow maps of nineteen easily manageable hikes through this region renowned not only for San Francisco’s urban scenes but also for its redwood groves and coastal mountaintops and ridges. Explore the region with hikes from the Pescadero Marsh to the top of San Bruno Mountain.






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Moon 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area (Moon Outdoors) by Ann Marie Brown

Book Summary: Avid hiker and experienced travel writer Ann Marie Brown knows the best places to hike in the San Francisco Bay Area from ocean-front and mountain trails to scenic walks through Wine Country. This third edition of Moon 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area includes a new hiking tips section, updated trail maps for each hike, new chapter maps with sites plotted by region, and a new resources section. This guide also has helpful icons indicating access to historic sites, trails that are appropriate for children, wheelchair-accessible trails, and trailheads that can be accessed via public transportation.

Why I Recommend It: This is the book I recommend to beginner and expert hikers – it has all of the Bay Area regions, an easy to use map, and a ton of useful info!


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Urban Trails: San Francisco: Coastal Bluffs/ The Presidio/ Hilltop Parks & Stairways by Alexandra Kenin

Book Summary: Urban Trails San Francisco is the first ever guidebook on hiking in San Francisco. The book contains 100 full-color photos and covers 50 history- and nature-filled routes: 40 in San Francisco, 6 in Marin County, and 4 south of the San Francisco border. Hikes are rated for fitness appeal to walkers, runners, and hikers, and with routes between 0.4 and 9 miles, there are options for people of all fitness levels. With this book, you will not only experience San Francisco’s trails, but you’ll also learn the history of the city and its famous sights.


Books About Silicon Valley

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Geek Silicon Valley: The Inside Guide To Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose, San Francisco by Ashlee Vance

Book Summary: Geek Silicon Valley delivers Silicon Valley history, taking us from success story to failed start-up and back again as we drive the roads from Menlo Park to Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara.
Place by place, readers get the background info on all the addresses that count: Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Stanford University, NASA Ames, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Santana Row, Genentech, and many more.




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The Global Silicon Valley Handbook by Michael Moe

Book Summary: In THE GLOBAL SILICON VALLEY HANDBOOK, bestselling author, venture capitalist, and global thought leader, Michael Moe, maps out an insider’s guide to Silicon Valley and the hottest emerging markets from around the world. The book highlights need-to-knows, including who the top VCs and angel investors are, phrases to avoid in a pitch, or even where to close a deal over dinner or beers. Visually engaging, THE GLOBAL SILICON VALLEY HANDBOOK aspires to inspire the entrepreneur in all of us.



disrupted book san francisco silicon valley

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons

Book Summary: For twenty-five years Dan Lyons was a magazine writer at the top of his profession–until one Friday morning when he received a phone call: Poof. His job no longer existed. Fifty years old and with a wife and two young kids, Dan was, in a word, screwed. Then an idea hit. Dan had long reported on Silicon Valley and the tech explosion. Why not join it? HubSpot, a Boston start-up, was flush with $100 million in venture capital. What could go wrong?  HubSpotters were true believers: They were making the world a better place … by selling email spam. The office vibe was frat house meets cult compound: The party began at four thirty on Friday and lasted well into the night; “shower pods” became hook-up dens; a push-up club met at noon in the lobby, while nearby, in the “content factory,” Nerf gun fights raged.


chaos monkeys san francisco start-ups книги про сан-франциско

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez

Book Summary: Weighing in on everything from startups and credit derivatives to Big Brother and data tracking, social media monetization and digital “privacy,” García Martínez shares his scathing observations and outrageous antics, taking us on a humorous, subversive tour of the fascinatingly insular tech industry. Chaos Monkeys lays bare the hijinks, trade secrets, and power plays of the visionaries, grunts, sociopaths, opportunists, accidental tourists, and money cowboys who are revolutionizing our world. The question is, will we survive?





That’s it! Which is your favorite book(s) about San Francisco? Let me know in the comments below!

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14 thoughts on “95 BEST Books About San Francisco – Must Read Books if you Love SF

    1. Same here, especially the TV series that they made based on the books :) Thanks!

  1. Being the book lover I am, I am so happy I stumbled onto your blog. I am adding few fictions and non fiction to my every growing To-Be-Read list, even moving or visiting San Francisco is not even in my to do list. But hey, I am an arm chair traveller – by reading books.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

    1. Thank you so much! I highly recommend a visit to SF, some of these books do a great job describing this city! :)

  2. I’ve been to San Francisco once, and it was a pretty good experience for me, but I haven’t been in a while. I would like to read some of the memoirs that you mentioned, including China Boy and also some of the travel guides.

    1. Thank you! I really recommend it, there’s a ton of interesting stories, especially about Chinatown and its history :)

  3. Wow that’s a lot of books about San Fransisco! I absolutely love that feeling of reading a book and really getting a sense of the city or the environment. I recently read a fantasy series that takes place in southern California and it gave me such a sense of the desert and the feeling of being there. It actually made me want to visit more than I ever have before. I love that books can do that! I will have to check some of these out :)!

    1. Thank you so much! Do you remember the name the name of the book? I’d love to check it out too!

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