San Francisco Bookstores and Other Highlights: Part Two

In my last post, I talked about Book Bay Fort Mason and what I bought there. Here are the rest of the bookstores I found noteworthy on my San Francisco trip. But first, a photo. I didn’t take any bookish pictures, but here’s one from my favorite long walk (Day 2, see the end of this post for more on my walks through the city):

Baker Beach

Now, onto the bookish stuff:

Needles & Pens is “an emporium of zines, d.i.y. goods, and an art gallery,” to quote their description of themselves from their website, and I went there because I like zines and I was walking around in the Mission anyhow. Unfortunately, the kind of zines I like did not seem to have much overlap with the kind of zines they stock, which is not really a negative comment about them: I’m really picky. I like zines that are text-heavy and personal rather than political; I like poetry zines if they’re good poetry (Katie Haegele’s poetry zines come to mind); I don’t like punk zines; I don’t like comics; above all, the writing has to be good, and by “good” I mean “readable, but ideally also graceful” and “smart.” Speaking of which: do any of you read zines, and do you have any recommendations? None of the zines I picked up at Needles & Pens excited me, but I am still glad I went there: I did like their cards and postcards, and bought one of Anandi Worden’s Future History of San Francisco postcards and one of Riley Noehren’s turret greeting cards (the green one).

I stopped into Forest Books after having walked 11.5 miles, so I wasn’t really in the best browsing mood, but it seems like a good used book store. I was tempted by a first edition of Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson and impressed by their poetry section. I also stopped into Dog Eared Books (new/used) in a bit of pre-dinner bleariness, and don’t remember too much of what I looked at there, though I remember it being a big and well-stocked shop.

The Green Arcade is another shop I went into after a long walk (are we sensing a pattern here?) but it was so good that I ignored my weariness and browsed for a while. They sell new books, with a focus on the environment/sustainability/urban planning; I like books about cities/places/spaces that are aimed at a general audience, and there was lots to see here.

I also visited Get Lost Books, a travel bookstore that is on the small side but seems to have a decent selection of travel writing + guidebooks. Another store I really liked was Modern Times, where I spotted Wendy-o Matik’s book on the shelves and realized I’ve been meaning to read it ever since, um, my summer internship in 2003, almost bought Donald Tetto’s small book/zine of poems, Shine in 09, which looked really satisfying. But I didn’t buy it, for some unaccountable reason—so I’m extra-pleased to see that I can read it on his website, yay!

One day I was in the Inner Richmond and browsed the outside bins at Green Apple Books, which I’ve heard described as the Strand of San Francisco, and I would believe it. Later that day, I walked past Thidwick Books, but it was already closed for the day, which is too bad, because they supposedly have a great selection of kids’ books. And the last bookshop I visited was Book Passage, in the Ferry Building, where I found TWO Diana Wynne Jones used paperbacks on an outside shelf (but didn’t buy them: I think both were second books in different series), and which seems to have lots of exciting author events. They have a good selection and a cozy kids’ books area, but I was feeling overburdened by my backpack + carry-on (I stopped here before taking the train to the airport), so I didn’t buy anything.

I kept track of where I was walking, so I could see how far I went: this is what I mean when I said that traveling alone = walking as much as I want to:

  • Day 1: 15.72 miles, though that may not really be right: I had to guess a lot at the Mount Sutro section and the Twin Peaks section, because I was on pedestrian-only paths rather than roads for some of that.
  • Day 2: 17 miles, though again, that is a guess because I spent a lot of time on trails rather than roads. This was a gorgeous walk, and also the day I went to Book Bay Fort Mason, which I mentioned in the last post.
  • Day 3: spent most of the day at SFMOMA, walked about 2.7 miles, felt like the previous two days might’ve been overdoing it a bit: I’m used to long walks, but not used to hilly long walks!
  • Day 4: farmers market, Cable Car Museum: walked about 2.7 miles in the morning, then took a streetcar to the Mission and walked back, about 4.6 miles, so about 7.3 miles for the whole day.
  • Day 5: Contemporary Jewish Museum, ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, 9.37 miles.
  • Day 6: 9.5 miles.
  • Day 7: about 9 miles.






7 responses to “San Francisco Bookstores and Other Highlights: Part Two”

  1. Danya Avatar

    Lovely photo, and thanks for this virtual tour in these two posts – some fun and interesting stuff!!

  2. Heather Avatar

    Thanks! I was so impressed by the coastal landscape – it reminded me of some of my favorite places in the state where I grew up, but bigger/higher – it’s like this (photo not mine/I don’t know who the photographer is) or this but on a grander scale.

  3. Danya Avatar

    Wow, amazing images (also as triggers of my imagination when combined with your comment about the grander scale); the scenery in your home state must be impressive!

  4. Heather Avatar

    Ah, no, I meant that California is a grander scale than my home state – everything in my home state (Rhode Island – smallest state in the country) is a little less grand 😉

  5. Danya Avatar

    Oh, I see. Still.

  6. Danya Avatar

    Sorry, I sent off the above comment before I could add, as intended, a smiley face at the end …

  7. […] review of Needles & Pens mirrors my experience: I’m glad such a store exists in a place where there is a market for […]

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