Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Love them Bookstores

A sign inside City Lights Book Store in San Francisco

I love to read. It is something that I have always liked. It is something that I really enjoy, sitting down with a book. I know that I am still so 20th Century as I like holding a book and not reading it on the computer, tablet or IPAD. There just something I enjoy about holding a book.

Besides books, I love bookstores. I love going into a bookstore and looking around and seeing what is there. Many times, I go in looking for one thing and leaving with another thing. For new books, I used to love Borders  Books. I knew all the locations in the Bay Area and since their demise I have found Amazon. I like, but it is sometimes hard to wait for the book to come in the mail. I want it now-LOL.

More than new books, I love the independent stores that sell both used and new books. Most stores do special orders and once you have been there a couple of times they treat you like family.

So here are some of my favorite local bookstores or as someone said "The happy places you go to":

City Lights Booksellers in San Francisco is one of most famous bookstores in the country. It was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and became a huge part of the beat movement of the 1950's. Most people know of it due to publishing of Allen Ginsberg's Howl in the fall of 1956 as number four in the Pocket Poets Series. City Lights is a official historic landmark and still has the 1950's beat feel. They have books from unknown authors and books that will expand your mind and make you think.
The outside entrance to Book Passage inside the Ferry Building in San Francisco 

Book Passage is in two locations and is really cool. The stores are located in Corte Madera and inside the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The thing I like about Book Passage is that have many author events. Where the author comes in and talks about his book and if you buy a book there they will sign it for you. I love that. I have heard many great talks and have enjoyed many of a great evening listening and learning. One of my favorite author events came in 2004 when I bought former President Bill Clinton's book and got an autograph ticket and got to meet the former President as he signed my book. Over the years I have met a lot of famous and cool people as they discussed their books. Book Passage sells both new and used books.
Inside Moe's Books in Berkeley

Moe's Books on Telegraph in Berkeley is one of the biggest of the independent bookstores I have seen. It is four stories and if Moe's doesn't have it then nobody does. You could spend all day at Moe's and still not seen all of the books there. One of the cool things is that they have rare book section with its own attendant. 

Across the street from Moe's is Shakespeare&Co. Books (above). As big as Moe's is, Shakespeare is just as funky. It is a lot smaller, but it is just the right size. To me this is what an independent bookstore should be about. It is own by a person that truly loves books. The shelves are jammed pack with used books and their is some classical music being played. Just a great place to be. The one thing that I really like is that they always have a cool selection of old Life and Look Magazines from the 50's and 60's for sale (left). I just love looking at the them and buying them.

Inside Shakespeare&Co's books

I must give a nod to Half Price Books. I know that they are corporate, but I always enjoy going into to them. I have found many books in their $3.00 clearance bookshelf that I have really enjoyed. For a corporate bookstore, they are run like a small independent book store. Plus, being an educator I get 15% off, which really does help. 

Inside Half Price Books in Berkeley

The Book Shop in Downtown Hayward

Nestled in Downtown Hayward is my favorite bookstore. It has been a fixture in Downtown Hayward for over 50 years. It is simply known as The Book Shop. It is a place that you can walk in with a frown and walk out with a smile. I have been going there for years. First as a kid and as an adult. It is simply a great place to buy books. A lot of that has to do with the staff. When I was a young adult Hank Maschal was the man. He bought the place in 1992 and always had a great smile and knew his books. Sadly Hank retired in 2009 and passed in 2010. He was the one that used the front window display area for emerging artists to display their work. Hank tried to be this grumpy old guy, but he had a heart of gold and is missed. Even though Hank is only there in spirit Renee Rettig is outgoing and keeps the spirit of the place alive. Renee is one of the most bubbly people that I ever have been around. Every time I go in. I find something new and unusual. And their used book selection is like no other. I hope that The Book Shop is around fifty years from now for my grandchildren to enjoy.

The Book Shop's great Renee Rettig. The spirit of the place.

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