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4 Must-Read San Francisco Authors

San Francisco and the Bay Area are home to many talented and well-known authors. These writers reflect the diversity of the Bay Area and its literary traditions. Check out these new books from Bay Area authors that are available at local bookstores.
Ellen Ullman
(credit: Marion Ettlinger)

Ellen Ullman
Buy her books at:
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-8193

Ellen Ullman has worked as a programmer in Silicon Valley for many years. Her first two books were set in that world; the first, "Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its Discontents," was a collection of essays. Originally published in 1997, it presaged the dot-com bust and recent criticisms of a technology-obsessed age. Her second book and first novel, "The Bug," was set in a Silicon Valley startup circa the 1980s. Her newest novel, "By Blood," was recently published and is a departure of sorts, having at its center a dark, gritty mystery. Set in San Francisco in the 1970s, this psychological thriller examines the detritus of the Holocaust and its survivors.

City Lights is forever tied to the beatniks and San Francisco's poet laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who helped found it. City Lights is a bookstore known the world over, yet still a neighborhood gathering spot in North Beach.

Related: A Guide to Literary San Francisco

Armistead Maupin
(credit: Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Armistead Maupin
Buy his books at:
Green Apple Books
506 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 387-2272

Armistead Maupin burst onto the San Francisco scene when his "Tales of the City" were first published as serials in the San Francisco Chronicle. The tales of love, intrigue and drugs reflected the free-wheeling San Francisco culture of the 1970s. The "Tales of the City" became a series of books published over the years and reflected the changing experiences and mores of San Francisco, including the AIDS crisis and evolving attitudes toward homosexuality. The newest book in the series, "Mary Ann in Autumn," revisits some of the well-known characters from "Tales of the City" and how they are dealing with aging and loss. For more on the "Tales of the City" series and Maupin's other books, visit his website at

Green Apple, in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco, is one of the granddaddies of Bay Area bookstores, founded in the 1960s and having survived through the recent years of bookstore closings and downsizings.

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit
Buy her books at:
University Press Books
240 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 548-0585

Lifelong San Franciscan Rebecca Solnit sees the city differently. In her many books, she has reexamined the region's construction of the past and the stories told about its history. Her 2003 book "River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West" won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Two of her recent Bay Area-focused books are "A California Bestiary," published by Berkeley's Heyday Books, and "Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas," published by the University of California Press. Rebecca's website features information on her frequent Bay Area talks and lectures, and is at

University Press Books, located next to the UC Berkeley campus, focuses solely on books published by university presses from around the world. If you're looking for an academic press book, no matter how obscure, chances are University Press will have it.

Meg Waite Clayton

Meg Waite Clayton
Buy her books at:
Kepler's Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 324-4321

Meg Waite Clayton's novels tell stories that we all know, in ways that we have not thought of. Her novel "The Wednesday Sisters" is set in a fictionalized Palo Alto, and is the story of several friends and their experiences as wives and mothers in Silicon Valley over many years. Published in December 2011, Clayton's newest novel, "The Four Mrs. Bradwells," is a story of four friends who come together to celebrate one's appointment to the Supreme Court. But the friends are shocked by a hidden secret from their past, and must learn how to heal and move on. Clayton blogs about writing and the Bay Area literary scene at

Kepler's, founded in the 1960s, remains the Peninsula's foremost independent bookstore from its location in Menlo Park.

Other Bay Area independent bookstores who carry these authors include Book Passage, in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Moe's Books in Berkeley and the Bay Area mini-chain Books Inc, with multiple locations on the Peninsula, the East Bay and in San Francisco.

Related: San Francisco's Best Local Authors

Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade. Her work can be found at

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