Monday, May 20, 2013
Living in San Francisco means I'm lucky: there are a plethora of great places to buy books. One such place is the San Francisco Public Library. A few weeks ago, I planned on stopping by the library to check out Readers Bookstore at the Main, the bookstore inside the main library run by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. It has a nice selection of books at affordable prices. But due to the maintenance being done on several of the Civic Center entrances/exits, I got turned around coming out of the transit station. I ended up at the Larkin Street entrance and pleasantly surprised by the Steps Sales. There were at least a dozen tables full of books -- all kinds of books! Cookbooks, new books, used books, nonfiction, reference -- and just as many different kinds of people browsing through them. I walked away with copies of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones; Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles; and The Pentagon Papers: The Secret History of the Vietnam War by Neil Sheehan, Hendrick Smith, E.W. Kenworthy, and Fox Butterfield. Back in 2010, I had the privilege of watching a screening of The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers which was followed by a Q and A with Daniel Ellsberg, Senator Pete McCloskey, and moderated by Robert Rosenthal at the Marines Memorial Theatre. As someone who was previously unfamiliar with The Pentagon Papers and with only a mediocre understanding of the Vietnam War, the documentary was like a sucker punch. If you haven't seen it, you should pick up a copy. And that's what prompted me to pick up the old, yellowing paperback at the Steps Sale.
As for Tess of the D'Ubervilles, it's a classic on my to-read list and for $1, I just couldn't pass it up. Curiosity got the better of me when I came across The Lovely Bones. I didn't know much about it other than it had been made into a film, but when I started reading it I could hardly put it down. I finished it in less than 24 hours.
Other great places to buy and enjoy books in San Francisco are the many independent booksellers that call the city home. Green Apple Books, Books Inc., Book Passage, City Lights, and The Booksmith are a few of the more well-known stores. I came across Jonathan Franzen's Freedom: A Novel on the "value books" cart outside of another San Francisco indie bookstore: the Alexander Book Co. I was on my way to a luncheon in the area, but since I was early I thought I would stop and explore the bookstore to kill some time before my event. I was attracted to the $5.99 sticker like it was a beacon.
The last three books were purchased on a trip to Barnes and Noble with my mom. We thought we would pick up a gift especially for my cousin as her baby shower was the following day. How often does the mom-to-be get a gift just for her? She likes romance novels, so we settled on a Nicholas Sparks title. As we were looking through the New Fiction section, I found a copy of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. The other Tators have been raving about it -- two of them cited it as their favorite read from 2012! As I clutched a copy, I came across a bargain table: buy two get one free. That table just so happened to have several books that were also sitting on my to-read list: Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral Story of the Zombie War and Christopher McDougall's Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. The table was also sporting a copy of a book that I was already carrying in my hand. It was fate! And that's how those three came home with me.
My bookshelf is now officially too small for all of the wonderful books I have purchased, I have read, and I want to read. There are definitely worse problems to face in the world.
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