Green Apple Books is the best used book store in the world!
I visit San Francisco about once a year, and I have acquired a few ritual stops on my pilgrimage to the Foggy City.
(photo by Todd Lappin, from his blog Everywhere: People, 2008)
On Clement Street is a bookstore, Green Apple Books, that embodies everything I love in a used bookstore. Every time I travel anywhere, I make an effort to visit the local used or independent bookstore- and actually buy books. I will even include just the book section of a thrift store, if the used book store is not findable. I have an iPad now, and still find that I prefer purchasing, reading, and regifting (or just collecting) used paper books as part of the tactile literary experience. At home in Phoenix, there are several used book stores I frequent, including a local chain Half Price Books. I love going there, but Green Apple has my eye.
Green Apple Books lies nestled in the middle of the Clement neighborhood, which is a microcosm of many of the joys that are San Francisco living. It is a mixed ethnicity, high population of many Asian restaurants- from greasy spoon to fancy to vegetarian (Ahimsa!) There are many green grocers, mixed grocers, odd item stores, bakeries, grilled or smoked or roasted meats, fish stores, little shops, little cafes and sushi. Clement also sits a reasonable distance from my brother's house, so I can walk there or walk back, when I need an alone time break. My other street is Haight, where I typically stop and buy something from the Tibet store or a bookstore or a craft store or Goodwill. That is another reasonable distance up the hill, in the opposite direction.
But Green Apple Books is the bookstore I always return to. In such a small space, there is so much to be found. Typically, I find myself in the cookbook section, the science section, the buddhist section, the travel section, natural healing section, and (more recently) the crafts section. John gets lost in science and in photography. This is not the only used bookstore I have visited in SF, but it is the one I most remember. My other upstairs/downstairs creaky wood shelf used book store on Church St in Burlington, VT, is now closed. Garcia Street books in Santa Fe is a fine independent, mellow and next to a fine mocha shop with a good patio. But it doesn't bubble with the same sense of enthusiasm.
I will give a mention to Changing Hands in Tempe, as celebrated in Big Salon, another wonderful bookstore. I visit when I am in that part of the woods, but it is not a lazy Sunday visit anymore. Admittedly, Green Apple is also a bit far for that, as well, but reminds me to slow down, breath in the smells of old ink on paper, mingled with unidentified aromas, the clang of the door as it opens and closes, and lose myself in time on my vacations. Forget the hustle and bustle of the city, and bring me there instead.