Cover Image: Spirits of San Francisco

Spirits of San Francisco

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Member Reviews

I highly recommend this book for anyone that appreciates San Francisco and its history . This is a very unique view of the  architecture of all the historic areas of San Francisco and a great cultural view of this beautiful city. The narrative with the extraordinary drawings bring together the history and magic of San Francisco.  This is a book to buy and keep on your coffee table as well as give for gifts. 

Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own.
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I’ve always loved California, getting to look closer at San Fran with this book was such a treat. Definitely a book I’ll have on my shelf for many years.  Ames a great gift for all of your California dreamin’ Friends
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The illustrations were charming as well as the author’s point of view of the city. I enjoyed the historical context that was supplied, but needed more of a present day awareness that the text didn’t carry over in information.
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It's always nice to delve a bit deeper into a city that is somewhat familiar. I found myself bookmarking many new places on google maps to visit in the future. San Francisco has such a rich history and such a unique topography that it never gets old exploring all the nooks and crannies.
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Spirits of San Francisco by Gary Kamiya & Paul Madonna is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early September.

This book is the first I've read that acknowledges the Covid-19 pandemic and emphasizes the desire to travel within your own town (or virtually or maybe through literature) to beloved, yet empty, deserted places. Madonna's photo-realistic sketches are set to Kamiya's picto-descriptive text over sixteen chapters - which is so, so perfect, aesthletic, and evocative - that builds architecture sentence by sentence and warmly greets historic parts of town, and subtly points out the goings-on in local culture.
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San Francisco is by far my favorite American city in the lower 48. (Honolulu takes #1 if I add all 50). That being said, I jumped at the chance to read this book by life long resident, long time author, and San Francisco expert, Gary Kamiya. 

In the into, Mr. Kamiya describes walking around the city at the beginning of this pandemic-the empty streets, the ghostly nothingness that is both eerie and comforting, and I could imagine how wonderfully intoxicating it must have been to be able to experience that beautiful city without all the traffic, and tourists, and pollution. 

Mr. Kamiya takes us on a journey through some of San Francisco’s most famous, or infamous, neighborhoods, revealing their sordid histories. From the Spanish priests to the ‘49ers, to the wealthy businessmen and the immigrants just looking to make a quick buck and return home, San Francisco’s history is rich and colorful and unlike any other American city. San Francisco’s neighborhoods have been transformed by earthquakes, booms, and busts. Some have gone from elite to down on their luck, back to elite through the years. All with their own unique styles. 

This book is for people who love San Fran, it’s back allies, it’s dirty secrets. People who love to look up at the tiles on the roofs, at the gargoyles, and look down at the cobblestones, the Tran lines, and the sidewalks. 

And the pen and ink drawing by Paul Madonna are fantastic! They really add charm to the stories and are so realistic. 

Thank you to NetGalley, the publishers, and the author for ARC in exchange for a fair review.
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This is a very short book with rather obscure historical details about the origins of some of San Francisco's iconic areas. I love San Francisco, and I learned quite a lot of new things here, so I enjoyed the book overall. Those not familiar with the area may have a hard time getting into it, though.  Some of the stories are incredibly fascinating and would interest even a first-time visitor to the area (fun to read, great trivia); other stories are more of a deep dive into scholarly research (dry material, but good details for a history paper). 

I am reviewing a pre-publication copy, so it is possible that the book will be edited by release date. I do hope so.  The segments about each of the different areas don't necessarily flow together, so there is a bit of "jumping around" from one chapter to the next. The book also ends very abruptly, with just a quick paragraph meant to wrap it all up. It is only in that last paragraph that the idea of "spirits" is ever mentioned to connect the title with the content of the book. It is a good book with solid information, but just needs a little polish to make it a better reading experience!
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If you love San Francisco, you will adore this book. Great read and also a great gift book. Loved this one!

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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I’ve just recently armchair visited San Francisco. The author ended up there after driving east to west coast and his main observation was a city with a severe homeless situation. Of course, there’s that, it’s the most expensive place to live in the US. But it figures there’s gotta to be more to it. For one thing, what’s the appeal. Why so many flock to the obscenely expensive seemingly perpetually fog covered city that’s always just an earthquake away from total destruction. This merited further research trips. And this book was great for that. Written by a proud San Franciscan, the man who genuinely loves his city and knows so much about it, this is a love sonnet to the city. The author, freshly inspired by the eerie quiet of 2020 lockdown streets, wanders the street and tells you all about their past….that’s essentially how this book reads. And there’s also art, done by another adoring San Franciscan, absolutely lovely art depicting streets and buildings of the city, rendered almost photorealistically lifelike with meticulous pencil (thin brush?) strokes. The book is slim, but very informative, it provides the readers with tons of information about SF’s storied past (of most interest to me ) and some present. It’s essentially like exploring the city with an engaging, very knowledgeable tour guide. I enjoyed it. Learn a lot. Definitely know plenty about the place now, though oddly enough, the art, meant to be sui generis by definition, was at times quite generic. Lovely, but generic. Like those buildings might have belonged to any major city. Maybe it’s just the nature of the thing, the basic lack of variety or more like the same repeated variety in most major cities. But at any rate, it was a lovely trip. And that’s what summers are for. Or used to be in beforeworld, anyway. Also, so refreshing to read about someone who is so in love with their city. I used to be for such a long time and watched that passion sour into the obverse and now can’t wait to leave here, but the author has somehow maintained that love for decades and decades. Admirable, in a way, that sort of constant steady affectionate relationship with a place one lives in. Maybe one day…Until then, I’ll read about other destinations, like San Francisco. I’m not sold on it, to be honest, wouldn’t live there, don’t think it merits the insane cost of living, but it’s a good place to visit. Plenty of historical interest…by a country as young as US’s relative standards, anyway. Recommended. Thanks Negalley.
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I’ve visited San Francisco many times fell in love with this fascinating city.This book a true ode to its neighborhoods history with fantastic illustrations introduced me to the history the legends of individual neighborhoods.A treasure of a book one I will  be gifting .to friends who also love this unique city.#netgalley#bloomsbury
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"Once you start learning about a city's history, every neighborhood starts to feel like Dr. Jekyll and Hyde. The ritziest part of towns turns out to have been a garbage dump, the worst slum a debutante's backyard."

I lived in San Francisco for a few years so I was quite familiar with all of the locations mentioned throughout this book. I could see myself walking along the streets of San Francisco while reading this and I loved that feeling! This provides a lot of some interesting history about the city and how it came to be how it is now. I really learned a lot from this book. The illustrations are amazing - they are so detailed and look real. I can't wait to be able to return to San Francisco in the future! 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy!
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