Past Events

Field Trip: Sutro Library and the SFSU Historic Collections & Frank V. de Bellis Collection
Friday, June 15, 2018, 10 AM–2 PM

Join the Book Club in exploring the Sutro Library and the Historic Collections of the J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University! The guided trip will share insight into special collections at the Sutro Library and the samplings of fine press bookstores, artist books, and small press books published in California that are housed in the Historic Collections of the J. Paul Leonard Library. Many of the selections reveal San Francisco State’s enduring connections to the local literary and book printing community. The tour will be lead by Sutro and SFSU librarians.

Evening in the Library: Arnold Fawcus and the Trianon Press: a San Francisco Story
Monday, June 11, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 5:30 PM

This evening will focus on the Trianon Press, Arnold Fawcus, the remarkable books he published, and the technique of collotype or pochoir printing as seen in the volume on display, “The Poems of Thomas Gray illustrated by William Blake”, in the Book Club’s Sperisen library.

A members-only talk by John Windle, proprietor, John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller.

To view the content of the talk on Arnold Fawcus, click here.

For information on collotype and pochoir printing, click here.

Charmain London

Smiling into Ruin: the Creative Life of Charmian Kittredge London
Monday, June 4, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Charmian Kittredge London married the bestselling American author, Jack London on a cold Chicago night, November 19, 1905, and immediately stepped into the critical, public eye. For the rest of Jack’s and Charmian’s lives, until Jack’s untimely death at the age of forty, reporters would follow their every move. She and Jack would travel the world exploring and writing together, but although the world remembers Jack London and his exploits, few know or understand the woman who was by his side, often driving him towards this adventure.

Charmian Kittredge London often collaborated with her husband. She wrote every day, only instead of writing fiction, she wrote books about her travels as well as sketches for inclusion in her husband’s books. But history hasn’t remembered Charmian Kittredge London in this way. For the past few years, Iris has been conducting extensive research and writing the first full-length biography about this complex and amazing woman. Come get to know the adventurous Charmian Kittredge!

A talk by Iris Jamahl Dunkle, author and poet laureate of Sonoma County.

For more information on Iris, visit:

Driven into Paradise? Lion Feuchtwanger and other German-speaking Exiles in Los Angeles, 1933-1945
Thursday, May 24, 2018, 5:30–7:00 PM

Hospitality at 5:30 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Like many other German-speaking artists and intellectuals, German-Jewish novelist Lion Feuchtwanger had to flee his home country when Hitler and his Nazi party came to power. He and many of his friends and colleagues first went into exile in the South of France but soon had to escape Europe altogether as the Nazis drew closer.

The last station of Feuchtwanger’s exile should be Los Angeles, where he rebuilt his library of rare books for a third time and where he wrote many of his celebrated historical novels. The talk will provide an overview of Lion Feuchtwanger’s life and work, and will shed light on a time when Los Angeles was often called “Weimar on the Pacific”.

An illustrated talk by Michaela Ullmann, Exile Studies Librarian, University of Southern California Department of Special Collections.

*At the Women’s City Club of Pasadena, 160 N. Oakland Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101

Photo provided by the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, USC.

Yosemite People
Monday, May 21, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Described as street photography in the wilderness, Yosemite People is a photography project and book by Jonas Kulikauskas. Carol McCusker, curator of photography at the Harn Museum of Art, describes the project best: “For the first time, a photographer is entering Yosemite as the WPA documentary photographers of the 1930s might, with a shifted priority on people rather than on nature.” The evening will also feature a small pop-up exhibition of photographs.

An illustrated talk and pop-up exhibition by Jonas Kulikauskas, artist and photographer.

The Second Annual Next Generation Printers Showcase
Monday, May 14, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

The Book Club is proud to announce our second annual printers showcase featuring a presentation and pop-up exhibition of work by emerging Bay Area fine printers!

This year’s list of participants include:

Dina Pollack-
Bettina Pauly –
David Tim –
Joan Karissa –

For more information on the printers and their work, view any of their online websites linked above.

Left print, Powell & Hyde by Joan Karissa

Exhibition Opening: Henry Evans, the Peregrine Press, and the Porpoise Bookshop (1948-1964)
Monday, May 7, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Remarks at 6 PM

A retrospective look at the unique and delightful work of one of California’s pioneering small press printers and booksellers, Henry Evans. Together with his wife Patricia and daughter Judith, Evans produced some of the most endearing letterpress publications of the 1950s, and his work was singularly influential on California’s small press movement of the 1960s and 70s.

Curated by John Crichton, proprietor, Brick Row Book Shop.

Spoken Word: A Celebration of National Poetry Month
Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Reading at 5:30 PM

National Poetry Month, which takes place each April, was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to raise awareness and increase appreciation of poetry in the United States. This year the Book Club will support this effort by inviting local poets to read their original works as part of our open mic celebration of National Poetry Month on Wednesday, April 25 from 5:00-7:00pm.

Join us for an evening of readings by amateur and professional poets and spoken word artists!

A sign-up sheet will be available at the start of the event for those interested in reading. Readers will be able to share up to 2 poems and limited to a maximum of 5 minutes. Readers will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

California Wine: Past, Present, and Future
Monday, April 23, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

A little over an hour northeast of San Francisco, in Shields Library of the University of California Davis, is the finest grape and wine collection of books, pamphlets, maps, archives and papers in the world. Join Axel Borg, Wine Bibliographer, and Amy Azzarito, Assistant Director of Online Strategy, as they highlight some of the unique items in the collection and discuss how the University Library is making the physical collections useable in new and innovative ways as we bridge the physical and digital libraries.

A talk by Axel Borg, wine and food science bibliographer, and Amy Azzarito, assistant director of online strategy, UC Davis Library.

The Fifth Annual Bay Area Books Arts Student Showcase
Monday, April 16, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentations at 6 PM

We are proud to announce our fifth annual pop-up exhibition of work and presentations by select students enrolled in Bay Area book arts programs. This year’s participants include students:

Roxanne Moreno of City College of San Francisco
Sophia Mena-Bell of Mills College
Juan Pablo Ayala of San Francisco Art Institute
Zeke Bogusky of California College of the Arts

Robert E. Cowan

Robert E. Cowan: Prince of California Bookmen
Monday, April 9, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Robert E. Cowan (1862–1942) ranks as the greatest bookman devoted to California history as well as the first bookseller of note to specialize in the subject. He also served as the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library’s first librarian. In 1914 Cowan’s monumental A Bibliography of California and the Pacific West became the first monograph published by the Book Club of California. Lecturer Gary F. Kurutz presents an overview of Cowan’s illustrious career, the writing of his bibliography, his work at the Clark Library, and the heroic effort of UCLA to secure Cowan’s Californiana collection.

A talk by Gary Kurutz, executive director, California State Library Foundation.

The 2018 Oscar Lewis Awards
Monday, April 2, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Join us for a ceremony celebrating the recipients of the 2018 Oscar Lewis Awards in Western History and the Book Arts. The Oscar Lewis Awards were established by the Book Club of California in 1994 in honor of Oscar Lewis (1893-1992), San Francisco author, historian, and Book Club secretary from 1921-1946.

Please click here for more information about the awards and a list of past recipients.

Looking At/Seeing Through: The Portable Broadside
Monday, March 19, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

For more than four centuries, printers and publishers have produced and circulated single sheets of paper known as broadsides that were printed on one side and used as ephemeral announcements of events and proclamations, or for disseminating popular ballads and songs. The broadsides in this exhibit, as curator Carolee Campbell has written, “come from contemporary bookmakers who have plowed the field for years.” Broadsides from today’s book artists are issued for similar practical purposes as in the past, but also, and perhaps more importantly, are celebrated for how they bring together fine art, traditional and experimental literature, and independent publishing.

In this evening’s talk, Harry Reese will discuss how variant forms of the broadside have been a prominent feature of selected contemporary artists, and central to the work that he and Sandra Liddell Reese have designed and produced over the last 40 years for their Turkey Press and Edition Reese imprints.

A talk by Harry and Sandra Reese, proprietors, Turkey Press & Edition Reese.

Franciscan Frontiersmen: How Three Adventurers Charted the West
Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 5–7 PM

This is an encore of the original presentation that took place at the Book Club of California on November 27, 2017.

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Based on a newly published book of the same title, this presentation explores the lives of three pioneering friars, Pedro Font, Francisco Garces, and Juan Crespi, who accompanied Junipero Serra to California in the last half of the eighteenth century. Drawing on the long-forgotten journals, extensive trail observations, and correspondence of the three padres, as well as the author’s own exhaustive field research, the presentation will provide fresh insights into the rigors of daily life on the frontiers of New Spain. These three Franciscans were the chaplains and official diarists of Spain’s pathfinding expeditions on the West Coast of North America. In the tumult of the Spanish crown’s colonization, Font, Garces, and Crespi endured terrifying storms at sea, starvation, scurvy, and lonely isolation as they carved trails through uncharted lands. Together, they explored a swath of the continent that was larger and more important than that explored by Lewis and Clark a generation later. But their exploits have been overlooked, because Americans are eager to learn their English past but largely ignore their Spanish past.

A talk by Robert Kittle, journalist and historian.

At The Gamble House, 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, CA 91103

Cookery & Connections: A Collector’s Passion
Monday, March 5, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Why would a collector buy a poor copy of a book with an inscription to an unknown person rather than a pristine copy with a neat author autograph? And who were Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Alice Richardson, and Bertha Haffner-Ginger, and what is their connection to America’s greatest food writer? Book Club of California president Randall Tarpey-Schwed will answer these questions and others in his wide-ranging illustrated talk that profiles some of world’s greatest collectors of books on food & wine and describes the thrill of unraveling the connections that inscriptions can reveal.

An illustrated talk by Randall Tarpey-Schwed, president, Book Club of California.

Book Collecting 101: The First in a Series for Young Collectors
Monday, February 26, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Are you new to book collecting? Do you love books and would like to collect them, but don’t know where to start? None of us were born knowing how to collect books. We learn it by spending time with books, and by talking with other people how know about books – including book collectors, booksellers, and librarians.

This talk, “Book Collecting 101”, will introduce you to the four foundational elements of determining the basic value of a book – desirability, availability, edition, and condition. We will also talk about some ideas for beginning a book collection and options for building your collection, as well as how to know whether books you buy today will increase in value over time.

A talk by Laurelle Swan, proprietor, Swans Fine Books.

Evening in the Library: The Love of Beautiful Books
Monday, February 12, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 5:30 PM

Producing a beautiful book is a labor of love. Every facet, whether simple or elaborate – the materials, the type, the binding, the selection of text, and the ornamentation – shows the care of its creator. But where the production is labor, the admiration is pure joy. For this event, we’ll be looking at some of the exquisitely made materials in the BCC Library, poring over details and looking at the design choices that contribute to the book as a harmonious whole. Materials will be chosen with an eye for group enjoyment, including playful typography and design, intriguing structures and decoration, glorious gilding, and (of course!) some Valentine-red bindings. Please bear in mind that for preservation concerns, the library is kept on the chilly side.

A members-only talk by Elizabeth Newsom, librarian, Book Club of California.


Exhibition Opening: Catching the Light
Monday, February 5, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Remarks at 6 PM

Catching the Light: Broadsides from Southern California offers examples of the mature work of selected book artists from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Charting a rigorous course – the braiding of intuition, craft and art.

Exhibition Opening on Monday, February 5, 2018 and on view February 5, 2018 through April 30, 2018.

Remarks by curator Carolee Campbell, proprietor, Ninja Press.

Print-Your-Own Broadside Party
Monday, January 29, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Printing at 6 PM

To celebrate National Puzzle Day, January 29, 2018, the Book Club of California shares its love of history, literature, and the book arts with a bibliophlic word search challenge printed on the Club’s Columbian Press.

Join us for a hands-on celebration of the Book Club and National Puzzle Day with Li Jiang, Lemoncheese Press.

A limited number of broadsides will be printed. Participation on a first come first serve basis. No early arrivals. Doors open at 5:00pm.

Ina Coolbrith and San Francisco: Her City of Love and Desire
Monday, January 22, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

Bret Harte called her the “sweetest note in California literature,” and Charles Warren Stoddard dubbed her the “pearl of all her tribe.” Coolbrith was crowned California’s first poet laureate in San Francisco 102 years ago, a gesture that also made her the first state laureate in America. Her first love was poetry, but she earned a living as a librarian, first in Oakland where she mentored Jack London, and later at the Mercantile Library and the Bohemian Club, where she was an honorary member.

Aleta George, journalist and author of “Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California’s First Poet Laureate,” will speak about Coolbrith, her love of San Francisco, and her constellation of literary friends.

Click here to RSVP

The First Annual Kenneth Karmiole Endowed Lecture on the History of the Book Trade in California and the West: Anton Roman: San Francisco’s Pioneering Bookseller & Publisher
Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 7:30 PM

This is an encore of the original presentation that took place at the Book Club of California on October 30, 2017.

Presentation at 7:30 PM | Reception at 8:30 PM

John Crichton presents the story of San Francisco bookseller and publisher Anton Roman (1828–1903), who came to California from Bavaria in 1849 to make his fortune in the gold fields. He converted his gold into books and became one of the most important and successful bookseller-publishers in the history of the book trade in California and the West. Roman published seminal California and Western American texts; he founded the Overland Monthly; and he connected California to the East.

At the Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens Rothenberg Hall, Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108 

Reservations are not required but you can submit your RSVP here.

Divine Madness: the Visions of William Blake
Thursday, January 11, 2018, 5–7 PM

Hospitality at 5 PM | Presentation at 6 PM

An evening of poetry, music, and visual art envisioned by composer Graham Treacher. A Blake devotee since childhood, he explores his profound relationship to Blake’s poetry and visual art through his striking musical compositions, as well as those of John Milton Sr., and influential Tudor era composer Orlando Gibbons. These movements alternate with excerpts from Blake’s penultimate poem Milton, as well as his masterpiece Jerusalem, and serve to elucidate Blake’s obscure mythology. Anyone who has pondered the mysteries of Blake’s great Giant Albion, his visions and his prophecy of the “Great Harvest,” will enjoy seeing his story unfold. Originally performed at Kings Place, London in November of 2016, with two soloists and six instrumentalists, the piece will be recreated from professional recordings and accompanied, as in the original, by some of Blake’s most thought provoking images. This unique event was critically acclaimed in the UK and will be recreated in its entirety for one night only.

Hosted by John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller. RSVP to or (415) 986-5826.

View 2017 events here.

View 2016 events here.

View 2015 events here.

View 2014 events here.

View 2013 events here.

View 2012 (and earlier) events here.

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