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Indies

1castro1

How can you not love a bookstore that recommends your all-time favorite novel?

Yesterday power was off in the entire block of Market Street in the Castro. The contains boutique, coffee shops, restaurants, and most of all, my local bookstore. I walked into a dark gym in the morning and later a dark coffee shop. Our favorite cake shop was closed and I hope they could salvage the cakes from the refrigerators. By dusk the power was out for almost 12 hours. The sushi place was serving dinner in the dark with candles, like “opaque dining”—dining in the dark to raise money for the blind. Anyway, the bookstore was open, with camp lights all over the store so customers could browse. It was their big 30%-off-coupon shopping day but unfortunately some of the books off the top of my list were not stocked—like Thomas H. Cook and Elizabeth Haynes. The recent Into the Darkest Corner drove me to the edge of the seat. I had made it a point to look for all of Haynes’ books. The Chatham School Affair had left me yet a new favorite author, one who is grossly underappreciated.

The very friendly and helpful staff informed me that the books could be ordered and be shipped to the store by next week at the latest. Perfect. And they would even honor the 30% discount if I paid yesterday when the order was placed. You know, this is the experience that I would miss the most shall e-tailing will take over. But I have noticed that independent bookstores, especially in urban and educated neighborhoods, have made a comeback. Although e-books are a big part of the industry’s future and even indies embrace the technology, bookstores have existential values—they drive community together, a melting pot of exchange in ideas. Bookstores keep the old pleasure of browsing and reading alive. The power outage didn’t deter the readers and browsers, in fact, the fact that it was dark out like a ghost town brought people together for some good bookish conversations in front of the shelves.

Book Rewards Program Pick

For my Books Reward Program redemption at Books Inc., I was aiming for Molly Fox’s Birthday, which was highly recommended by book bloggers in the UK. I was disappointed to find out that the book (trade paperback, published by Picador) will not be available until April. After searching the shelves and letting my whims run loose, I picked up this book and opened to a random page:

…that is, the explicit acceptance that death was fundamental to the existence of the kingdom of god [note the author doesn’t capitalize “god”] and that, therefore, any discussion about a future without death would be not only blasphemous but absurd, since it would, inevitably, presuppose an absent or, rather, vanished god. . . that if there was no death, there could be no resurrection, and if there was no resurrection, then there would be no point in having a church.

The range of this author’s satire seems limitless, but so does his power to humanize. He’s so good at taking a very curious, beyond-imagination idea, rub and knead, and turns the idea into flesh. He is one of the best writers who incorporates rhetoric into his fictional works: Jose Saramago. Death with Interruptions.

Could This Be It? Book Group

Mann

As well-read as San Francisco claims to be (it’s the, let’s have a roll of drum, third most bookish city in the United States after Washington DC and New York City in terms of book sales; Seattle has the most bookstores per capita), book groups are hard to come by, at least for me. I’ve been on a mission to look for one that partially meets my reading taste, that is, a mixture of classics and contemporary literature, and one that is open to explore new, ethnic, and gay and lesbian writers. I have overheard conversations of coworkers, friends and coffee shop regulars over their book clubs. That none of them have extended an invitation has convinced me that most book groups are probably tight-knit social gathering that are exclusive to a group of people who have developed long friendship over the years. They are comfortable to chat over their kids and family gossips over glasses of wine in addition to their bookish pursuit. Recently, I read about the SFLGBT Book Club on the newsletter of Books Inc, a local independent bookstore. For their next meeting on August 12, they will be discussing Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. I’m so there! On every last Wednesday of the month, they also host Classics I Forgot to Read Book Club at a different location. The upcoming selection is The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, which I read about two years ago. My question for you, my fellow blogger, is do you belong to a book group? Does your book group read books that are outside of your genre?

Love Your Local Bookstores, a Monday Musing

musingmondays1How many bookstores do you frequent? Do you have a favourite? If so, which one and what makes it so?

I have talked about local bookstores in a previous Monday musing post and described my vision of a bookstore. For this week’s answer, I will discuss in depth the two bookstores which I most frequently visit.

Books Inc. is one of the oldest independent booksellers on the west coast. Selection at Books Inc. caters toward individual neighborhood and their character. The one across the street from where I have coffee in the morning specializes in gay and lesbian literature and fiction, although I also recommend its biography and travel sections. Its Laurel Village store offers the most titles in fiction and literature, making it a perfect stop for bookclub ideas. Aside from the friendly and book-savvy staff, whose recommendations written on index cards I follow with scrupulousness, Books Inc. hots a “buy 10, get 1 book free” Frequent Reader Club.

greenappleGreen Apple Books on 6th and Clement in the Richmond district is the used book emporium. The main store is what readers and bibliophiles call a book haven. Get lost in rabbit warren of books in all subject areas that extend up to the mezzanine. Every inch of space here is devoted to the encouragement of reading. Tiny cardboards full of staff recommendation and reading notes dangle on shelves like conversation bubbles. The annex a few doors down the block houses fiction and literature titles. I always go check out the discount new book table for heavily discount titles.