The San Francisco Chronicle allows a reader to click on map points and find out what literary activity happened there.
The map allows readers to click on map points and find out what literary activity happened there. Image: SF Chronicle

The Bay Area, and by extension Berkeley, has always had a lively literary scene. The first bookstore was opened during the heat of the Gold Rush in 1849 by a man named Joshua Hamilton Still. There is a plaque in San Francisco’s Portsmouth Square commemorating that auspicious act. The past rings also with many famous names who spent time in the Bay Area: Mark Twain, Jack London, Dashiell Hammett, Gertrude Atherton, Jack Kerouac, and others. The San Francisco Chronicle has just produced an online literary map that attempts to capture today’s lively literary scene. The interactive site highlights booksellers, publishers, literary events, open mikes, festivals, magazines and journals, the location of famous passages, and a listing of many authors. Not surprisingly, there are a lot from Berkeley. There are 48 authors and 20 bookstores listed for Berkeley to be exact.

The map also notes interesting places, like the location of Emma Goldman’s apartment in San Francisco, where Allen Ginsburg first read “Howl,” Gertrude Stein’s house in Oakland, Philip K. Dick’s house in Berkeley, and more. The literary map was the brainchild of John McMurtrie, the editor of the Chronicle’s book section.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 11.19.16 AM
A highlighted passage from the map: Ann Packer’s “Songs Without Words”
A highlighted passage from the map: Ann Packer’s “Songs Without Words”

Here are the Berkeley authors represented on the site: Kevin Allardice, Cecil Brown, Sylvia Brownrigg, Annei Barrows, Mac Barnett, Dorothy Bryant, Judith Butler, Patrick Califia, Michael Chabon, Zoe Fitzgerald Carter, Angie Chau, Frances Dinkelspiel, Thomas Farber, Barry Gifford, Alison Gopnick, Lyn Hejinian, Jane Hirschfield, David Hollinger, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Adam Hochschild, T. Geronimo Johnson, Richard Klugar, Jaron Lanier, Michael Lewis, Wendy Lesser, Beth Lisick, Michael David Lukas, Micheline Ahoronian Marcom, Adam Mansbach, Fae Myenne Ng, Mich Minh Nguyen, Peggy Orenstein, Michael Pollan, Aimee Phan, Robert Reich, Elizabeth Rosner, Julia Scheeres, Bart Schneider, Porter Shreve, Huston Smith, Gary Soto, Juliana Spahr, T.J. Stiles, Ricky Vincent, Ayelet Waldman, Alice Waters, Monica Wesolowska, and Al Young.

The 20 Berkeley bookstores listed are Afikomen, BCA Bookstore/Buddhist Bookstore, Black Oak Books, Books Inc., Builders Bookstore, Dark Carnival Bookstore, Dharma Publishing Bookstore, Eastwind Books, Ecology Center Bookstore, Moe’s Books, Mr. Mopps’ Bookstore, Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, Pegasus Books (two locations), Revolution Books, Shakespeare Books, The Escapist, Turtle Island Bookstore, University Press Books, and William Stout Books.

Want to get breaking news, including about crimes, quickly? Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and download the free Berkeleyside iPhone app.

Avatar photo

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...