If you’re a book-centered traveler and you’re in San Francisco, it’s pretty much a given that you have to stop at the legendary City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. Less famous, though, is the art installation right around the corner. Called Language of the Birds, the permanent installation, which went up in 2008, features twenty-three books that appear to have just taken flight. Underneath the flock, embedded in the sidewalk, is a series of words in English, Chinese, and Italian that appear to have fallen out of the books, an homage to the area’s rich literary history. City Lights provides solar power, used to illuminate the books at night. The installation was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission and created by artist Brian Goggin.
Yes, Language of the Birds is definitely worth a visit and a photo, but do so before heading over to City Lights, where you’ll surely be leaving with too many books to juggle a camera.