Book Zoo seems like part wonderful used book store, part dare. Located nowhere near a college campus, far from any foot traffic, and with hours that ensure any trip there is a gamble, the shop seems to run on pure faith that a bookstore, no matter where it's put or when it's open, is always a good idea. Well, this one certainly is. The selection is smart & well chosen, the space is cozy and invitingly overrun with books and LP's, and the prices are very, very good. Plus, it serves as a center for a welcome array of events on an otherwise uninspired stretch of Telegraph Ave. May it live forever.
Many bookstores carry a few gifts and cards, but Russian Hill Bookstore boasts the largest selection in the Russian Hill area. Owner Carol Spencer scours hard to find sources for the unique and inspiring. She looks as this section of her store as a "visual inspiration" center, where potential writers and artists can get their own creativity kick-started. This hardly means a loss of focus on the books, though. Floor to ceiling shelves (with helpful accompanying ladders)abound, with a wide selection of just about everything. Really. Old sheet music, ephemera, rare book sets, and gifts are just some of the additions to the deeply browseable inventory.
Tucked into a residential street in leafy, hilly Montclair Village, the Montclair Branch library owes its beginnings to Chauncey W. Gibson, who donated the house-like building to the city in 1930. A small, sunny courtyard out front and tables facing large windows inside provide a welcome spot to pore over the branch's surprisingly good art book selection. The library also houses two large later additions to the original building: a young adult room and spacious children's area.