As the NYT reports the phenomenon of e-books quickly overtaking “physical” books, I have been reflecting on the repositories of those old physical artifacts, and the importance of bookstores in our culture — in my life. With my novel debuting in the summer of 2010, I have had the pleasure of visiting many recently. In June, for example, I wandered many times into the incomparable Boulder Book Store, in Boulder, Colorado. Advertising 150,000-plus titles on doors that open onto a tree-lined pedestrian mall, it lures you in with an offer few could refuse. Housed in what seems to be an old mansion, stairs lead up and down, the floors slope and creak, and the stacks are arranged in such a way as to invite browsing — the old-fashioned kind — and lingering. In some corners, comfy chairs add an additional lure to spending time, hours, or days perhaps, pouring over pages. To say this is the bookstore with everything is hardly an exaggeration. Many stores may boast having a killer travel section, a complete floor of children’s books, the newest bestsellers and great audio books, but how many can claim a ballroom? Add to that a literary cafe attached to the main floor, and it’s hard to imagine any stopover in Boulder, a Rocky Mountain haven for sports lovers, that didn’t include some quality indoor time for browsing the stacks, buying books and sipping a latte. (more…)
Archive for July, 2010
Speaking of fav. bookstores, in the Bay Area it would be hard to complete that sentence without adding Book Passage. But often when people mention the iconic bookstore, they are speaking of the Mothership in Corte Madera, Marin County. Within the confines of its two buildings, so much of the area’s literary life — readings, workshops, salons — takes place that it is a true literary center. But let us not overlook the “annex,” or the other Book Passage on San Francisco’s Embarcadero.
In thinking about bookstores that provide so much to passing the torch of our culture, I don’t have to go far from home. In our little village in the Montclair section of Oakland, there is a tiny bookstore with a big reach and a big heart. A Great Good Place for Books has the feel of a neighborhood hang-out. Sunday mornings, when the farmer’s market is in full swing, it’s an easy place to drop in and linger for a while. Chances are owner Kathleen Caldwell will greet you by name. And any kids you’ve brought along will not only love the cozy reading arrangement in the kids’ section, but will welcome the plate of cookies found there any day of the week. (more…)