A Writer’s San Francisco: Book Recommendation

One of the things that I seem to do every time that I go holiday shopping is the old “one for you, one for me” method of gift buying. I actually rarely go shopping for myself, but when I’m out in the stores spending money anyway, it becomes really easy to just tack on a few things here and there for myself. Such was the case just before the holidays when I went to the bookstore to purchase items for others and came out with an armful for myself. But it worked out, because one of the books I purchased was A Writer’s San Francisco: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul by local author Eric Maisel, a book which has made it on to my list of “things to keep on the shelf to go back to again and again”.

I actually purchased the book on a whim, without really looking it over, thinking that it was one of those writer’s books which gives you writing exercise tips and advice on the writing life. I’m not really sure why I tend to pick up those books, since I have carved out a method of writing which works for me and I never follow writing exercise programs for more than a few days, but since I have that writer’s trait of thinking and reading and talking about writing more than actually writing, my book collection includes a number of such books. And so when I first opened up this book and discovered that it was not actually a guided journal, I was slightly disappointed, but then when I dug in to the meat of the book, I discovered that what it contained between its covers was a world that I was dying to explore.

The book is a collection of essays about the writing life as it is really lived by a modern day San Franciscan. It mentions local cafes where writers gather, San Francisco streets with activity for the writer’s imagination and city landmarks which hold treasures of writing material within their histories. And it does so within short little stories which remind the writer in me about why I write and what it means to me. In the end, what I discovered was that the book provided more fodder for my writing imagination than any collection of writing exercises could have offered. And it provided the San Francisco voyeur in me the chance to say, “I know that place. I’ve felt that feeling.”

Oh, and the book was enjoyed by many of my non-writer friends who picked it up from its resting spot on the coffee table next to my laptop and exclaimed, “it’s a picture book”. This is because it is beautifully accessorized with illustrations of San Francisco life by artist Paul Madonna (whose work appears regularly in the San Francisco Chronicle). It is books like this one which make me feel completely justified in spending a large portion of my holiday spending money on gifts that are just for me!

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