For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet. An extra note on this one: It’s especially sad to see how many of these bookstores no longer exist.
‘[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]
‘I have to say that there are fabulous book stores around Ann Arbor, so I don’t miss these probably as much as Frank …
‘Things I’ll miss, #3
‘Green Apple Books. Haven’t ventured out there lately (it’s in the Richmond, and I now live in Oakland) but, for its selection, its sprawling looseness, and its rickety hardwood floors, it’s my favorite Bay Area bookstore.
‘Runners-up: 2. Stacey’s.
‘3. Moe’s Books in Berkeley.
‘4. Cody’s, also Berkeley.
‘6. Aardvark (for the imperious tabby cat alone).
‘7. Kepler’s, in Menlo Park, although its atmosphere and clientele were often a little too snooty for my liking.
‘8. City Lights, a San Francisco institution, and one that was inexplicably attacked as a leftist hive (you would’ve thought it was an al-Qaida meeting hall) and a symbol of everything that’s wrong with America in several out-of-control letters to the editor in the Chronicle during its fiftieth anniversary earlier this year.
‘9. The defunct (the space is now a yoga facility) Ninth Avenue Books.
‘10. Alexander Book Co.
‘11. Modern Times.
‘12. Bound Together, for shock value alone (not anymore, but when I first moved here, the concept of an anarchist bookstore was pretty amazing). The staff was surly at best, but as someone commented somewhere else on the Internet, “If you were a left-wing anarchist, would you be in a good mood?”
‘13. European Book Company. All kinds of Europe stuff, including supercilious French staff, supercilious being a particularly amusing quality to sport at the intersection of Larkin and Geary. Years ago, I found a fat English-Dutch dictionary here and just about died.
‘14. A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, which is last because it has a great deal of sumptuous and intriguing stock to distract you, but seemingly never has exactly what you’re looking for.
‘A Different Light should be on this list—when I first settled down in San Francisco ten years ago, I had some of my most exciting times as a newbie to the City participating in a rambunctious writing workshop there—but I’m not that fond of the place anymore; it’s become too generic, too much like all of the other touristy boutiques and chain stores in the Castro. As you can tell, I spend way too much of my spare time in bookstores.
‘—Posted by Frank at 11:55:10 | 02-Aug-03’