Essential Books About the Summer of Love According to City Lights Bookstore
The Summer of Love was much more than one singular summer. It was a movement, a revolution that has lived on to this day in the technology we use, the food we eat, the art we consume, and yes, even the books we read. Founded in 1953, City Lights helped usher in the transformation, first by becoming home to the Beat Generation in the 50s and then participating in the radical change of 1967. Many authors published by City Lights read at the Human Be-In on Jan. 14, 1967, in Golden Gate Park, including Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Lew Welch. No bookstore was more influential during that time than City Lights, and it's one of the reasons the bookstore continues to endure today, influencing a new generation in the North Beach neighborhood.
Here are six essential books recommended by the staff at City Lights to relive the Summer of Love.
"Season of the Witch" by David Talbot
In a kaleidoscopic narrative, David Talbot recounts a gripping story of the civil strife and tragedies that beset San Francisco between 1967 and 1982—and led to the city’s ultimate rebirth and triumph.
"Fall of America: Poems of these States 1965-1971" by Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg’s searing volume of poetry earned the National Book Award for Poetry in 1973.
"Ring of Bone: Collected Poems" by Lew Welch
Lew Welch was a brilliant poet, legendary among his Beat Generation peers. He disappeared in 1971, leaving a suicide note behind. Ring of Bone collects poems, songs and drawings, documenting his creative output.
"Pictures of the Gone World" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
A classic book of poetry by the founder of City Lights, and the city’s first poet laureate! Pictures of the Gone World inaugurated the City Lights Pocket Poets Series in 1955.
"Earth House Hold" by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder has been described as the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology,” given his longtime concerns about land, nature and environment. Earth House Hold, a play on the root meanings of ecology, is drawn from Snyder’s essays and journals.
"Ghost Tantras" by Michael McClure
One of McClure’s best known but least available books is a deep well from which decades of poetry have drawn. “Without McClure’s roar there would have been no Sixties," noted actor and filmmaker, Dennis Hopper.
Once you're done reading, walk in the footsteps of these amazing writers.