A while ago I shared photographs of the shuttered Barnes & Noble on Shattuck Avenue. I was surprised at its closure. It is usually the independent book shop that closes its doors, like Cody's on Telegraph. Luckily, Berkeley has an enviable population of independent booksellers: Pegasus on Shattuck (across from the old Barnes & Noble), Shakespeare on Telegraph at Dwight, Black Oak on Shattuck in North Berkeley, among others. I used to be a frequent buyer at the independent shops in my neighborhood, but recently I
am have been borrowing from the main branch of the Berkeley Public Library. In particular, I like to borrow habitat and wildlife books, and most recently gardening mysteries! I enjoy mysteries and detective fiction.
Berkeley does not, to my knowledge, have a mystery specialty book shop. The Ecology Center carries gardening books and Mrs. Dalloway's in Elmwood also has a selection of garden references and literature. But the best specialty gardening book shop I have visited is Powell's Books for Homes and Garden in Portland's Hawthorne District. I purchased a copy of Noah's Garden from the book store in July. I am developing an online bookshop through Amazon called The Printed Leaf. If you have book recommendations, please leave the title(s) in a comment.
In addition to afore-mentioned specialty booksellers, Berkeley is home to a science fiction and fantasy book store - Dark Carnival - located on Claremont Avenue between The Uplands and the Claremont Reservoir. Dark Carnival celebrated its 30th anniversary on August 25. The book store provides recommendations on its website.
Another eclectic specialty book store is Revolution Books located in the privately-owned alleyway between Channing and Durant. (A BPL book store is also located in the alleyway.) I've only visited the store once during which time I was encouraged to purchase the Revolution newspaper and a video (possibly about Bob Avakian). The Niebyl-Proctor Library, a research library located in Oakland, carries Marxist-oriented books.
Berkeley also has spiritually-oriented bookshops. The new Buddhist Churches of America, the Jodo Shinshu Center on Durant, has a book store. On Telegraph Avenue near Prince, Sunrise Bookshop carries books on eastern and western religious and spiritual traditions. They also carry music, videos, incense and Buddha statues.
If you are interested in Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander cultures, Eastwind Books of Berkeley offers fiction (like Deadly Slipper: Death In The Dordogne, a botanical mystery featuring a rare orchid), children's literature, cookbooks, language arts, and nonfiction, among other categories. I purchased a Mandarin-English dictionary with gracious assistance from a staff member.
Finally, you can visit the Nolo Press Outlet Bookstore in West Berkeley at 950 Parker Street, on your next walking tour of West Berkeley (review the walk in the 41 Walking Tours of Berkeley, California, by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association). Nolo Press publishes legal books and other materials. You can learn about West Berkeley landmarks - 950 Parker Street is not a landmark - on the BAHA website.
I forgot to mention the Builders Booksource on 4th Street carrying books and other publications for contractors, designers, and "do-it-yourselfers." My first visit to the store was in April when I attended Randy Hester's book talk for Designing for Ecological Democracy. Builders Booksource also carries Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden (my copy is from the library) and EBMUD's Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region.
Additional content added on September 11, 2007.