Upcoming Events

*Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the Book Club of California and are free and open to the public. Please refer to the description under each event.

Email programs@bccbooks.org for any questions, or call (415) 781-7532 ext. 3

Health Safety Update: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The safety and well-being of our members, visitors, and staff continues to be our primary focus. In an effort to encourage social distancing to halt the spread of the coronavirus, we have made the decision to temporarily close our club rooms and cancel programs and events.

The club rooms are currently closed. Public events, exhibitions, and meetings at the Book Club are cancelled through June 30, 2020.

Many of our staff will be working remotely so please contact them by email or phone. Staff contact information can be found on our website.


Lost Department Stores of San Francisco
Monday, September 21, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

In the late nineteenth century, San Francisco’s merchant princes built grand stores for a booming city, each with its own niche. For the eager clientele, a trip downtown meant dressing up – hats, gloves, and stockings required – and going to Blum’s for Coffee Crunch cake or Townsend’s for creamed spinach. The I. Magnin empire catered to a selective upper-class clientele, while middle-class shoppers loved the Emporium department store with its Bargain Basement and Santa for the kids. Gump’s defined good taste, the City of Paris satisfied desires for anything French and edgy, youth-oriented Joseph Magnin ensnared the younger shoppers with the latest trends. Join author Anne Evers Hitz as she looks back at the colorful personalities that created six major stores and defined shopping in San Francisco.

A live online presentation by Anne Evers Hitz, author and editor

Click here to register. 

In the Beginning Was the Word: First Wine Writers of California, Frona Eunice Wait and Leon Adams
Monday, October 12, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

“Better words make for better wine” – Warren Winiarski.

The first wine guide to California wineries was Wines & Vines of California; Or, a Treatise on the Ethics of Wine Drinking, written by Frona Eunice Wait in 1889. The first major writer after Prohibition was Leon Adams. His book, The Wines of America, 1973, going into four editions played a major role in educating Americans about wine. Both were Californians and were firsts in promoting California wine. Two major California wine writers and two quintessential symbols of culture, wine and books.

A live online talk by Axel E. Borg, Distinguished Wine and Food Science Bibliographer Emeritus, University of California, Davis, and Jullianne Ballou, Warren Winiarski Wine Writer Collection Fellow, Special Collections, Shields Library, University of California, Davis

Click here to register

Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir
Thursday, October 15, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

Bunker Hill is the highest point of downtown Los Angeles, both literally and figuratively. Its circle of life has created a continuous saga of change, each chapter rich with captivating characters, structures, and culture. In Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir, historian Nathan Marsak tells the story of the Hill, from the district’s inception in the mid-19th century to its present day.

Once home to wealthy Angelenos living in LA’s “first suburb,” then the epicenter of the city’s shifting demographics and the shadow and vice of an urban underbelly, Bunker Hill survived its attempted erasure and burgeoned as a hub of arts, politics, business, and tourism. As compelling as the story of the destruction of Bunker Hill is—with all the good intentions and bad results endemic to city politics—it was its people who made the Hill at once desirable and undesirable. Marsak commemorates the poets and writers, artists and activists, little guys and big guys, and of course, the many architects who built and rebuilt the community on the Hill—time after historic time.

Any fan of American architecture will treasure Marsak’s analysis of buildings that have crowned the Hill: the exuberance of Victorian shingle and spindlework, from Mission to Modern, from Queen Anne to Frank Gehry, Bunker Hill has been home to it all, the ever-changing built environment.

A live, online presentation by Nathan Marask, author

This event is co-sponsored and hosted by the Pasadena Public Library

Registration link coming soon!

Gutenberg’s World: the Rise of a New Technology in 15th century Mainz
Monday, October 19, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

Goldsmith and inventor Johannes Gutenberg was a political exile from Mainz, Germany when he began experimenting with printing in Strasbourg, France in 1440. He returned to Mainz several years later and by 1450, had a printing machine perfected and ready to use commercially: The Gutenberg press.

In this illustrated talk on the world and work of Johann Gutenberg, our speaker describes the principal actors involved and explains the specific conditions in the medieval world of Mainz, Germany, that gave rise to printing with moveable type.

A live online presentation by Alix Christie, novelist, printer, and journalist

Click here to register

The Women are Burning – A Brief History of the European Witch Hunt
Monday, October 26, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

The tension between men and women has been played out for centuries in Western culture. No more dramatic example of this tension exists than the Church’s organized persecution of women during the infamous witch-hunt trials. How did women come to be perceived as evil, all-powerful, and in the service of the Devil? What was the Church’s logic as it carried out this program of repression? What were the consequences? Join Leonard Pitt as he reveals this history with compelling images and abundant historical narration. Not for the faint of heart.

A live online presentation by Leonard Pitt, author, actor, and lecturer

Click here to register

Glen Dawson: Mountaineer and Bookman
Monday, November 9, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

Glen Dawson (1912-2016) was a beloved and renowned man of books as well as an avid globe-trotting climber who achieved dozens of mountaineering first ascents. As a partner of Dawson’s Book Shop for 60 years, he was influential in rare book circles.

This program features the well-illustrated volume, tracing his long lifetime of accomplishments and including a history of the Book Shop, which was a cultural mecca for over a century.

A live online presentation by Elizabeth Pomeroy, author

Click here to register

Port of Los Angeles: Conflict, Commerce and the Fight for Control
Thursday, November 12, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

With years of research and more than 200 maps and images, Geraldine Knatz shapes an insightful story of the Port of Los Angeles, from its early entrepreneurs to the city’s business and political leadership, and the inevitable conflicts that arose between them. Knatz digs into the back stories of the key players in a hardcore, well-documented piece of storytelling at its best.

Port of Los Angeles matches a topic—the history of Los Angeles Harbor—with someone of unquestionable authority to tackle the subject. Knatz worked nearly four decades at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, her last eight years as Executive Director at Los Angeles. In this remarkable book, her expertise shows.

Port of Los Angeles reads like a script for another Chinatown, only this time it’s about saltwater and controlling the waterfront, not drinking water and controlling the land. Knatz takes readers on a journey that will educate and inspire, and fills these pages with real-life intrigue, masterminds, and politics extraordinaire. Port of Los Angeles will leave the world’s maritime aficionados spellbound and historians in awe. A must-read for anyone who treasures the history of Los Angeles.

A live, online presentation by Geraldine Knatz, author

This event is co-sponsored and hosted by the Pasadena Public Library

Registration link coming soon!

H.G. Wells & Frederic Goudy: California Dreamin’
Monday, November 16, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

After H. G. Wells and Frederic Goudy collaborated on the Door in The Wall project — their creative compass seemed to always point west to “The Golden State” of California.

Part 1: “Time Traveler In Tinseltown” showcases H. G. Wells and Hollywood’s Golden Age — featuring such Sci-Fi classics as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds.

Part 2: “Frederic Goudy: The Titan of Type” explores the great private presses of the age: The Village Press, The Grabhorn Press and University of California Press and their finest printed editions from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, The Hollow Land by William Morris, Door in The Wall by H. G. Wells to Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

This talk will explore H. G. Wells first Sci-fi film and the creation of some of Goudy’s greatest California type designs. It will include some wonderful yarns of the key figures of the era — Mitchell Kennerley, William Morris, Sir Emery Walker, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw, William Randolph Hearst, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Bertha Goudy, and Edwin, Robert and Jane Grabhorn.

An Illustrated talk by Rex Parker, artist, designer, and illustrator

Click here to register

Aloha Amigos! Richard H. Dillon, Author, Librarian, Historian
Monday, November 23, 2020, 5-6:15 PM
*A live online presentation

Dick Dillon (1924-2016) was a world-famous western historian, librarian, teacher, and public speaker. He was the author of dozens of prize-winning full-length books, hundreds of articles, and more than a thousand book reviews. A 4th-generation Californian and WWII WIA combat veteran, he was a member of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Westerners Corrals. R.H. Dillon was named Westerners International Living Legend No. 46 in 2003.

Aloha, Amigos! features a biography of Richard H. Dillon, culture-historical studies and paeans by his friends and admirers, and the first comprehensive bibliography of his published works.

Contributors include Will Bagley, Peter Blodgett, John Boessenecker, Matthew Boxt, Phil Brigandi, Robert Chandler, David Dary, James Delgado, Brian D. Dillon, Lynn Downey, Abraham Hoffman, Gary Kurutz, Valerie Sherer Mathes, James Shuttleworth, and Francis J. Weber, from four different Westerners Corrals. Foreword by Kevin Starr, cover art by Tommy Killion.

This is a live, online presentation by Brian Dervin Dillon, Ph.D., editor and author

Click here to register 

Details to come. Please check back for updates or subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest information on events, exhibitions, and publications.

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