What feels better than taking an accidental turn and stumbling onto your new favorite bookstore? You know what we’re talking about; it’s the feeling of opening a well-worn door to see a sprawling maze of bookshelves and undiscovered novels. In a split second, you know that you could experience endless imaginary worlds if you only took a stack of undiscovered books to the corner armchair. 

Bookstores are a staple in every community — and today, those of us at 1751 Market Street want to help you discover the best that San Francisco has to offer. Check out the list below for a few ideas on where you should pick up your next favorite read!


City Lights Booksellers and Publishers

261 Columbus Avenue

If you’re in the mood for exploration, check out City Lights! This enormous bookstore sprawls across three floors and sources its expansive inventory from both major houses and niche publishers. This bookstore offers a little of everything, from fiction to poetry to politics to music and more. The City Lights collection is hand-picked and arranged by a staff of book lovers, giving the space a personal feel and a welcoming ambiance. City Lights also plays host to a calendar of monthly events, including readings and author talks. 

Interestingly, this bookstore isn’t just your local bookstore. Since 1955, City Lights has also supported a publishing branch by the same name. While the publishing house initially only released poetry, its focus has since expanded to include prose, fiction, and nonfiction alike. According to the bookseller’s website, City Light Publishers has over two hundred titles currently in print and publishes a dozen new titles each year. They write that the publishing house is “known and respected for its commitment to innovative and progressive ideas, and its resistance to forces of conservatism and censorship.”

Interested? You should be! City Lights also plays host to a calendar of monthly events. Come by for an author talk or reading — or just stop by to grab a new read. 

Dog Eared Books

900 Valencia Street

489 Castro Street

Charming, whimsical, and packed full of books old and new, Dog Eared Books isn’t a place to miss. This independent bookseller has been vending books, cards, magazines, and notebooks ever since its opening in 1992, and they mainly specialize in providing local, small-press literature. This bookseller is also an avid supporter of the arts; both of its locations also display and sell paintings from local artists. 

Most of all, though, Dog Eared Books wants to foster a passion for literary discovery. Drop by for a visit and see what you’ll find!

Alley Cat Bookstore

3036 24th Street 

When it comes to encouraging exploration, Alley Cat Bookstore is unmatched. This bilingual bookseller and general interest store has provided locals with English and Spanish-language books, magazines, and notebooks since 2011. Alley Cat’s atmosphere is both welcoming and whimsical; as the owners write, “Our staff is happy to help you locate specific titles, or you can roam around discovering wondrous obscurities you never knew you couldn’t live without.”

Like Dog-Eared Books (also owned by bookselling veteran Kate Razo), Alley Cat Bookstore supports the art. The back of the store features an expansive art gallery that displays both local and international art, and further hosts regular poetry readings, art openings, and film screening. Interested? Check out the store’s website to see a full calendar of events!

Borderlands Books

866 Valencia Street

Borderlands Books knows and loves its niche. This longstanding literary hotspot only sells titles in the science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror genres, and has a particular focus on books produced by independent publishers. As the bookstore’s owners explain, “We would love to sell all kinds of books, but we only have so much room. If we sold all kinds of books, we could only be a good bookstore. By limiting ourselves, we can be a great bookstore. And, if we do our job right, perhaps we can be your bookstore.”

Borderlands works hard to live up to that aspiration. They provide comfortable seating, late hours, and a welcoming atmosphere. 

If you’re a fan that loves the fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and horror “borderlands” of literary genres, this may be the store for you. Visit today to hunt down your newest adventure!