Postcard from San Francisco #2: California Readin’

2 Apr

I’ve already told you about the wonderful City Lights books and its wonderful owner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. But that’s not all; San Francisco is truly a book lovers’ city. Independent shops abound. First off is Dog Eared Books in the Mission, on Valencia. A spacious and airy store with a great selection of graphic novels and art books and some gorgeous displays of old classics and first editions. Another lovely touch is their collection of portraits on display in the window, in memorial of those late literary greats, including the recently departed J.D. Salinger and Haruki Murakami’s dog. Check out their website (see below) for staff picks and other bits and bobs.

Valencia Street itself is an oasis of great little bookstores; a hop skip and a jump away is Borderlands; specialising in Sci-Fi, Fanatsy and Horror books, both used and new. It’s website boasts British imports as well as pulpy used paperbacks and rare first editions. And next door is a sweet little coffeeshop where you can even get a cup of PG Tips! What’s not to like? Also in the area is the fantastic Modern Times, a collectively owned and operated store, established in 1971. Nowhere better reflects the diverse politics and ethnicities of the area, with a substantial collection of Latino/a writing and non-fiction.

The great bookshops don’t only reside in the Mission however. There is the lovely Booksmith on Haight Street and also the specialist anarchist collective bookstore, Bound Together. Booksmith stocks a wonderful selection of kids books as well as a great display of staff recommended titles. Bound Together, like almost all bookstores in San Francisco it seems, houses a fantastically broad range of  zines and pamphlets. I could spend ages delving into any one of these, some documenting the author’s life, others celebrating the art of home-tattoing or telling a story using black and white photocopied collage or hand drawn stick men. Genius! Also not to be forgotten is the bookshop in the SFMOMA – I spent ages oogling their copious collection of books on craft and interior design! Well worth the trip to the museum alone, and it’s open even when the museum’s closed! Bonus!

While on a stop-over between San Fran and Yosemite, I discovered some of the hidden treasures of the seemingly plain Merced. Take a stroll down Main Street and you’ll find cavernous used book store, Second Time Around. The place is massive and the staff were super friendly; it turned out to be a great place to while away several hours waiting for a Greyhound bus. Another good one for the Sci-fi lovers, with shelves and shelves of cheap paperbacks, it also has an extensive fiction section and some great kids books too! Hop across the street to Red Sky Comics, where I also picked up a couple of gems, including a great comic called Wordsmith for just a dollar and the issue of new Tank Girl!

Check out their websites below:


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