Find new (and used) literature by the shelfful at these eight spots.
The autumn equinox has passed, which means it’s time to look forward to cozy rainy afternoons spent curled up with a purring cat, a cup of tea, and a good book – oh, who am I kidding, it’s always the perfect time for a good book, no matter the season.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a pretty big fan of reading (my daughter and I have literally been the poster children at our local library, for goodness sake). And we’re lucky to have not only wonderful library systems but also a plethora of excellent independent bookshops in our area.
Below is my highly subjective, totally biased roundup of the Midpeninsula favorites I frequently haunt, from San Carlos down to Mountain View. Of course, this list is entirely non-exhaustive and there are plenty more options for bookworms in The Six Fifty’s greater coverage area. But maybe this will help get you started on a journey toward your next new (or used) book. Read on…
The Reading Bug
A children’s wonderland packed full of books, the most adorable stuffed animals, art supplies and other gifts (it’s our default go-to for birthday presents), The Reading Bug also carries goodies for grown-ups. Storytimes are held regularly, and be sure to check out the free, delightful “Reading Bug Adventures” podcast – a long-running series boasting original, book-themed stories, songs, and entertaining characters.
The Reading Bug, 785 Laurel St., San Carlos.
Reach and Teach
Based in San Mateo for many years, Reach and Teach has a new home in downtown San Carlos, with the same great selection of books, games, and eco-friendly household products with the mission of making the world a better place. As the shop’s website puts it, Reach and Teach is “a highly interactive and hands-on immersive environment focused on peacemaking, gender equality, and sustainable living.”
Reach and Teach, 1179 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.
Encore Books on the Square
In the basement deep below the San Mateo County History Museum there lies a hidden treasure trove for readers. Encore Books on the Square is one of the largest used bookshops on the Peninsula, and visitors can lose themselves wandering the labyrinthine space, finding all sorts of surprising gems at affordable prices. Best of all, the proceeds help support the San Mateo County Historical Association’s activities and educational programs.
Encore Books on the Square, 2200 Broadway St., Redwood City
Located in downtown Menlo Park, Feldman’s is another excellent spot for browsing the shelves and finding second-hand literary treasures, from vintage sheet music to long-lost childhood classics. Plus, there’s a piano!
1075 Curtis St., Menlo Park.
One of the Peninsula’s intellectual hubs since 1955, when it was founded by peace activist Roy Kepler, Kepler’s is more than a bookshop – it’s an institution, and home to cultural events and big-name author visits. After a brief closure in 2005, the community rallied to keep Kepler’s going strong (it’s now organized into two entities: Kepler’s Books and Kepler’s Literary Foundation).
Kepler’s Books, 1010 El Camino Real, #100, Menlo Park.
Bell’s Books, in downtown Palo Alto, has an atmosphere that I can best describe as magical, with its towering shelves, old-fashioned charm and fine collectibles. Family owned since 1935, Bell’s is a place where generations of shoppers have visited and discovered rare, used and new books and continue to be enchanted by its vibe.
Bell’s Books, 536 Emerson St. Palo Alto.
Linden Tree Books
Another absolutely fabulous, long-running shop that is mainly focused on high-quality books for kids but also has items to offer adult shoppers, Linden Tree keeps its events calendar hopping with plentiful author and illustrator visits, plus live musical performances all summer long, in honor of its history as a hub for children’s music (Personal fun fact: My band wrote and recorded the Linden Tree jingle!).
Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.
East West Bookshop
From tarot cards to crystals to a huge selection of reading material on all sorts of spiritual traditions from across the globe, East West Bookshop in downtown Mountain View claims to be “the largest metaphysical book and gift shop in the U.S,” and it’s always a pleasure to spend time browsing its uplifting, intriguing offerings.
East West Bookshop, 324 Castro St., Mountain View.