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Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in its Own Words Paperback – March 18, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"You don't have to live in the Bay Area to appreciate these beautiful sketches of daily life in the city. In addition to her portraits of the locals, MacNaughton playfully illustrates the insides of a burrito and an adorable assortment of dogs." -Pop Candy

"Every once in a while, there comes a beautiful work of art that gives rightful tribute to the place we call home. Meanwhile can be the perfect introductory course for people who are new to (or visiting) San Francisco; but it also serves as the perfect love letter to San Francisco and acts as a reminder for all of us who live here to truly embrace, appreciate, and stare longingly at our home in the hopes to witness its true beauty." -SF Weekly

"If Studs Terkel came back in the next life with a paintbrush instead of a microphone, Meanwhile in San Francisco is the book he might have done. Wendy MacNaughton has captured the beating heart of San Francisco in her off-beat, beautiful, and original drawings of the working life of the town. Funny, poignant, nutty, and wise." -Davia Nelson, NPR's Kitchen Sisters

"If Studs Terkel, the great oral historian, had taken up drawing, his work might have looked something like what Wendy MacNaughton has created in her irresistibly bighearted new book, Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in Its Own Words. Like Terkel, MacNaughton gives voice to ordinary people from all walks of life, dignifying them in the process. Her pleasing, unfussy ink-and-watercolor portraits of San Franciscans - 'illustrated documentaries,' as she calls them - capture library patrons, farmers' market vendors, Giants fans, Mission hipsters and old friends hanging out in Chinatown. " - San Francisco Chronicle

"If you love San Francisco, you'll love this book." -The Bold Italic

"Like a modern-day Margaret Mead armed with ink and watercolor, not a critic or commentator but an observer and amplifier of voice, MacNaughton plunges into the living fabric of the city with equal parts curiosity and compassion, gentleness and generosity, wit and wisdom, and emerges with a dimensional portrait painted with honesty, humor, and humility." -Brain Pickings

"Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City In Its Own Words, is an insightful, illustrated compendium of contemporary city life." - Alissa Walker, Gizmodo.com

"Meanwhile, in San Francisco: The City in its Own Words is like having an insider guide you around San Francisco. Wendy MacNaughton spent months getting to know neighborhoods in San Francisco, and the book tells the story of neighborhoods in the city from the people who know it best." -Design*Sponge

"We've been enamored of artist-graphic journalist Wendy MacNaughton's breezy-yet-hyper-perceptive sketches, humanizing portraits, and urban tableaus for years now, but it was with this year's Meanwhile In San Francisco that the SF resident became something like our illustrator laureate. The book, the result of McNaughton's lunchtime strolls with her notebook in hand, captures the city through its characters, from bus drivers to Mission hipsters to the folks who pass their days at the public library." - San Francisco Bay Guardian

About the Author

Wendy MacNaughton is a New York Times best-selling illustrator and graphic journalist based in San Francisco. Her previous books include Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology and The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming A Wine Expert. Her clients include the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and PRINT magazine. She is a contributor to Pop-Up Magazine and a collaborator at Brain Pickings. She lives in San Francisco, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (March 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452113890
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452113890
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Parka TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 16, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 1:51 Mins
This is a light-hearted sketchbook from Wendy MacNaughton. She's an illustrator and a graphic journalist based in San Francisco.

The book is about A5 in size, slightly smaller. There are 176 pages. See that city view on the cover? The cover is can actually be folded out into a city view poster with additional pointers.

Collected within book are images of the city captured in a series of snapshot style sketches. You'll see sketches of people on the streets going about their daily chores, scenes from SF Public Library, SF Civic Centre Farmers' Market, Chinatown, the dogs and dog walkers, a burrito, bisons, signs and other aspects of the city.

I like the sketches done in casual ink and watercolour style. The people sketches are nice.

The sketches are accompanied by short observations of the people, some quotes, and what she sees.

The book description says MacNaughton spent months getting to know the people, but I don't get that impression from the book. It feels like people there don't like to talk much. They smile for their sketches though. A bus passenger remarked that his kids don't take the bus. Why? The Farmers' Market help the homeless. Where are the stories of the homeless? What do the members like about Dolphin Club? I was expecting more to read as I felt the book was lacking in depth.

I'm saying all that because I do like the art, but it's a wasted opportunity because the book could have been so much better with more detailed stories.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Delicate, thoughtful drawings engage the reader in exploring the less well known San Francisco. This is a look at
the distinctive little people who sell things, make things, hang out, and opine on their lives in this fast changing city
by the sea. Occasionally a travelogue, but mostly just meeting unique individuals where the artist finds them on the street and listening deeply. The line work is exquisite and the color luscious, especially in the close up portraits. Really stimulated my desire to go back to San Francisco and explore.
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I heard a fun interview of the author on the radio. I was hoping this book would be written stories about neighborhoods of San Francisco rather than just drawings. Don't get me wrong, the drawings were nice - maybe the author can do a follow-up book with the more of the stories she was relating in the radio interview.

Also, I bought the Kindle version of the book. I'd recommend the printed version instead as the drawings don't render well on a Kindle. Hard to read the captions.
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Among the many reasons I love Wendy MacNaughton's work: She has finally answered the question, "What shall I get ___ for their birthday/Christmas/whatever?"

MEANWHILE manages to have broad appeal while being really singular, really specific in its voice and take. And you don't have to be a San Franciscan to love it. It's about people, it's about the life spooling out all around us. A wonderful reminder that there are great, fascinating stories around every corner, wherever you are.
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If you're interested in truly seeing and enjoying San Francisco, Wendy's well conceived, illustrated and written tour guide is perfect. It's fun and informative. What more could a traveler/reader/resident want from a guide to one of the world's most iconic cities.
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I bought this to give as a gift, but read it before I passed it on. I found it perfectly delightful as did the recipient who lives in the Mission District of San Francisco. Refreshing and fun!

Jane Newhagen
author of Sand Dollar and Pieces of Eight ~ tales of old Key West
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This set of illustrations is truly one of the best ways to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon and teleport yourself to San Francisco!
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Born and raised in San Francisco The City I love. Even tho no longer the City of my childhood. I enjoyed this portrayal of the neighborhoods as they are now. I do spend time walking around the City with my cousin or childhood friends. I think I have spotted many of these characters 😳I have given the book as a gift to my City friends they also have gotten a kick out of it.
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