Paul Yamazaki presents Reading the Room, in conversation with Sarah McNally

April 16th
McNally Jackson Seaport
RSVP Required — see below

Reading the Room is Paul Yamazaki's love letter to the work of bookselling and an engaged life of the mind.

"All booksellers are the unsung heroes of American literature, but Paul Yamazaki is a superhero." —Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, Harlem Shuffle, and Crook Manifesto

Over twenty-four hours, Paul Yamazaki leads us through the stacks of storied City Lights Booksellers in San Francisco; the care and prowess of his approach to book buying; his upbringing in a Japanese American family in Southern California and moving to San Francisco at the height of revolutionary foment; working with legendary figures in the book publishing industry like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Sonny Mehta, and others; and his vision for the future of bookselling. Navigating building trust with readers and nurturing relationships across the literary industry, Yamazaki testifies to the value of generosity, sharing knowledge, and dialogue in a life devoted to books.

"Paul Yamazaki is one of the greatest and most influential readers in the world. [This volume] reminds us that reading is an act of imagination, defiance, optimism and love. Paul brings the whole of his being to the world of books. May we all learn to do the same." —Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies and A Separation

"If you love a bookstore, it’s whether you know it or not because you love a book buyer…and in the book world no book buyer is more legendary than Paul Yamazaki of City Lights. He has made the job into an art, an ethic, an adventure, and not infrequently an insurrectionary act." —Rebecca Solnit, author of Recollections of My Nonexistence and A Field Guide to Getting Lost

"A wry, stirring, profoundly uplifting ode to bookselling––complete with riffs on capitalism, San Francisco, jazz, even the meaning of life––from one of the underappreciated literary titans of our time." —Hua Hsu, author of Stay True

Paul Yamazaki has been the principal buyer at City Lights Booksellers, the legendary San Francisco bookstore and publisher founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin, for more than 50 years. A champion for national and global literature, writers, publishers, and independent bookstores, Yamazaki was the recipient of the National Book Foundation's 2023 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. He has mentored generations of booksellers across America.



Sarah McNally is the founder of McNally Jackson Books, Goods for the Study, and McNally Editions.





RSVP Below

In order to keep our events program running in uncertain times, we're asking attendees to hold their place with a $5 voucher, redeemable on the night of the event on any product in store or in our bar & café. If you have a change of heart or plans, write to and we'll gladly refund you and release your spot, up to 24 hours before the event. Thanks for understanding, and for supporting your local bookstore.