September 5, 2017

A Golden State for Bookstores

Favorite Bookstores , Travel , Just For Fun , Faculty

When book lovers around the country celebrated Independent Bookstore Day, our Buckley staff—all avid readers—started making their own lists. We’re sharing those, and if you’ve got a list of favorites you care to send us, we’d love to share that too.

Buckley faculty Caroline Lord is posting pics on Instagram from her adventures in L.A.—a trip that includes, of course, visits to bookstores.

She’s inspired us to pull together this list of some favorite bookstores in California.

With one San Francisco native on staff (Pam Schreiner), one current Oakland resident at our disposal (Otis Taylor), and two who frequent California for writing workshops (Caroline and Jenny Maxwell), we have an eclectic collection of stores we found, up and down The Golden State. 

One of Caroline Lord's favorite bookstores in the world--Book Soup in West Hollywood. Photo by Gary Minnaert.

 Book Soup

 Los Angeles

This is one of Caroline’s all-time favorites and with her son enrolled in college in L.A., she gets to visit it a little more often these days.

Walking to our next session at the Big Sur Writing Workshop, hosted by the Henry Miller Library.

Henry Miller Memorial Library

Big Sur

It’s not exactly a library, and you can buy Henry Miller books there, so it IS a store. Jenny includes it on her list because “a) it’s quirky so I can’t resist and b) I’ve attended a writing workshop sponsored by the library, so it has a special place in my little heart.” When Pacific Coast Highway access was cut off earlier this year, the “library” opened a second location in Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

On Pam's must visit list whenever she's back home in San Francisco.

Green Apple Books

San Francisco

This is Pam’s pick—where you’ll find 8,000 square feet of used and new books. Green Apple is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Publisher’s Weekly agrees with Pam: They named it best bookstore for 2014.

Elise Blackwell's novel "Grub," one of Jenny's favorite finds at City Lights.

City Lights

San Francisco

Is it a tourist destination? Maybe—but Jenny likes it anyway. She gets a little extra excited when she finds a friend’s book on the shelves: She bought and lugged home a copy of her neighbor Elise Blackwell’s novel when she spotted it there.

Friends Corner Bookshop, where your purchase of used books benefits this library in the Bay Area. Photo from Lafayette Library and Learning Center.

Friends Corner Bookshop


With thousands of used books ranging in price from 50 cents to $3, this is one of Pam’s top picks. The shop is part of the beautiful Lafayette Library and Learning Center and your purchases benefit the library.

Lucky Otis Taylor--his favorite Oakland bookstore is less than 400 feet from his front door. Photo from Pegasus Books.

Pegasus Books


"I’m spoiled," says Otis of his recommendation. "It’s less than 400 feet from my front door, and on the way to the BART station. So whenever I need a new read — book or magazine — this is where I’ll go."

Piedmont Avenue bookshops and Otis, who writes about Oakland for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Piedmont Avenue


On this street lined with bookshops, Otis likes Spectator, Owl & Company, Black Swan and Issues for their inventories and ambiance. "Piedmont Avenue is a stroller’s paradise," says Otis,"for people with or without kids in strollers."

A former train station, you now find coffee and books under the arches at Depot Bookstore.

Depot Bookstore and Café 

Mill Valley

“When I visit friends who live in Mill Valley, I cannot resist this bookstore in the old train depot,” says Jenny, “plus I once had coffee next to Sean Penn here.” Jenny also loves Mill Valley’s library, surrounded by redwoods.

"Not a bookstore, but the Mill Valley public library is a beautiful spot to read a book," says Jenny.

Book Passage

Corte Madera

In a strip mall, this bookstore may not win on charm, but it’s a great destination for readers—and writers. Jenny started shopping here after attending a two-day writing workshop hosted by the store.

As seen in Healdsburg, the cookbook that's been declared a Southern classic by southern foodways expert John T. Edge.



Both Caroline and Jenny have spent time writing at nearby Bishop’s Ranch, where they've fallen for Healdsburg, the square—and the bookstore you’ll find there. “I was already charmed, then I spied a copy of The White Trash Cookbook,” says Jenny.

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