U is for Used Books.

A lot of people were curious to know what I missed about the US while living abroad for so long.  Big hamburgers?  Giant parking spots?  Spatial awareness while walking down the street?  Nope. Used bookshops!  And, I arguably chose the best neighborhood to find these dusty treasures.  Although most recently my favorite has been Half-Price Books in Berkeley, the Mission is loaded with second-hand reading material.  In honor of my one-year anniversary of being back in the US of A, I decided to take a used book tour and look for U authors. Unlikely?  Perhaps.  I started out at my house on 16th street and ended up at the ultimate used-book center: the Mission branch of the SF Public Library.

My first stop wasn’t a long journey: Adobe books, literally across the street.  By far the most chaotic in terms of organization, Adobe is also the coolest and the quirkiest bookshop in the neighborhood.  It’s full of dusty paperbacks, worn-out lounge chairs and even more broken-in SF natives.  Today, I went to the Spanish section to look for my U book:  Score!  An staple from any undergrad Spanish lit course: Miguel de Unamuno, San Manuel Bueno, Martir.  On the inside, a bookplate proving its origin at the UT Austin Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Next up, Community Thrift.  Usually fairly reliable for $1 books, but unfortunately today’s trip was quick.  Their “U” section?  One book.

Further down Valencia street, I thought I would try out the sci-fi specializing Borderlands, whose U/V combined section contained approximately zero books by U authors.  Next door at Modern Times Book Shop, another fruitless search through their used book section, which consists of a cart on the street.

On to Dog Eared Books, also known as the place where I purchased my first used book in San Francisco (Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City.)  Here, I noticed a slight obsession with John Updike.  An entire shelf!  My interest is peaked.  Anyone have any opinions about this author?

My last stop was the library.  Frustrated and fed up with the letter U,  I took on a different mission:  Audio books for my upcoming road trip to Montana.  A sparse selection, but I managed to walk out with a few, including Jack London’s Call of the Wild.

Conclusion? There are not many authors whose names begin with the letter U.

Adobe books seen from my bedroom window. Excuse the scaffolding, apparently they will be painting for two months!

Chaos and piles of used book goodness!

The U section at Community Thrift is quite unruly.

"Modern" titles for $1.

A frequent hangout for small pugs and other hipster-style dogs.

Ha! Give ME $1.83 and I'll tell you all you need to know.

As per my strange used book ritual, I checked on the copies of Madame Bovary. Three, including one original version French copy.

3 Thoughts on “U is for Used Books.

  1. Beth Gillis on August 5, 2010 at 12:50 AM said:

    I love Adobe! I found a bunch of amazing books there earlier this summer after spending the entire day browsing and eavesdropping on the equally interesting conversations of the patrons.

  2. molly on August 5, 2010 at 4:11 AM said:

    Ooh..what a fun mission! I love used books stores too..stinky and comforting at the same time..
    As for Updike, I read The Centaur in high school and liked it but have been meaning to read the Rabbit series for years.

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