“Someone told me there’s a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.”

Lyrics from “Going to California”—Led Zeppelin 1971

In the Summer of 1967, more than 100,000 free spirits communed in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. They came together, a cultural revolution of sorts, creating some of the most amazing art, music, literature and fashion. They danced in the streets, spoke of peace and unconditional love. Their legacy remains in many of the City’s neighborhoods and will be celebrated this summer in a number of events being held at Pier 39, in the Castro, at the Fillmore, and the many museums throughout San Francisco. You will even be able to take a “Love Tour” in an authentic VW hippie bus. What a beautiful time to be in the Bay Area. In the immortal words of Paul Kantner, “If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren’t really there.”

To get you ready for your “Love Tour,” here are a few books to jog your memory and expand your consciousness:

Timothy Leary’s seminal work, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” is considered by many to be one of the most important pieces written during the Summer of Love. To many people, this is just a counter-culture phase used to refer to the group of disenfranchised youth squatting in San Francisco at the time. When Leary spoke to about 30,000 of these youth in Golden Gate Park during the “Human Be-In,” he first dropped this phrase….likely while experiencing the effects of LSD.  It was required reading in my “Altered States of Consciousness” Psychology class in college and a great book to discuss with friends.  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781579510091

For the same kind of vibe, pick up a copy of Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” This non-fiction gem is considered the benchmark of a literary style that came to be known as “New Journalism.” This is a first person account of the psychedelic bus trip of author Ken Kesey and his band of merry pranksters as they travelled cross-country dropping acid, expanding their minds, and communing with the likes of Hell’s Angels, poet Allen Ginsberg, and the Grateful Dead. Side note: this was suggested reading in that same college class! https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780312427597

If you don’t know who Ken Kesey is, then you will need to read “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The movie of the same name was terrific (due in no small part to actors Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher  as Randle Patrick Murphy and Nurse Ratched), but the book, no surprise, is so much better.  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451163967

This was also the year that Ira Levin published his horror masterpiece, “Rosemary’s Baby.” This book is a major page-turner that defines the genre. And the 50th Anniversary edition of the book with its ominous cover is a must for fans of supernatural suspense. https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781681774664

For a fascinating look at the female perspective, pick up a copy of Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo’s 2009 book, “Daughters of Aquarius: Women of the Sixties Counterculture.” The author takes an in-depth look at the young women who defined the time through interviews with real women who lived in the Haight at that time; they rejected their suburban, middle-class roots in favor of a bohemian lifestyle, filled with art, music, and creative freedom.  The photographs in this book really add to the perspective presented and the power of the female voice. https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780700616336

“Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll,” is a beautiful, coffee table book filled with a wide array of photographs, iconic music posters, and other memorabilia celebrating this unique time period in San Francisco’s history through essays from folks who were there. https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780520294820

For more information on the events being held to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, visit the official website, http://www.50thsummeroflove.com/



Julie Bond

Julie Bond is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes running the gamut from YA lit, to psychological suspense, and anything dog-related, of course. You can find her haunting her favorite San Francisco Bay Area indie bookstores. Email her at ObsessiveBookFanatic@gmail.com


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