One of my favorite places in the world is the Green Apple bookstore in San Francisco.
I've been to a lot of great book stores- Strand comes to mind as do the old second hand places in Delhi and Ithaca but nothing compares to Green Apple. And this is in a city with places like 'City Lights Bookstore' where Howl was first published.
So why do I love Green Apple? Well, first, location. Green Apple is on Clement street, one of my favorite streets in the world...so it figures. It's lovely to come upon the old wooden bins under the big green awning amidst the smells and sights of Clement. Dim Sum in small hole's in the wall, enticing smells of thai food wafting up the street, chinese grocery stores spilling on to the pavement and cozy coffee shops..and then suddenly, good old Green Apple. It looks deceptively small but then you go in to the main store and there are rows upon rows of books, stacked high. Many of them are used and thus affordable, which is the icing on an already delicious cake. But that's not what makes this place charming- it's in the little things: hand written signs ("Don't call it Frisco" for the section containing San Francisco books or "Books that will never be on Oprah"), the insightful hand written reviews of books by staff, the green apple people who know exactly what book you're talking about and will have an intelligent opinion on it, creaky wooden steps polished by the steps of many book lovers over the years. No one seems to be in a hurry at Green apple...you just wander off the street, browse, maybe even read a whole book standing there and then you can walk right out without buying a thing and no one cares.
I've spent many a foggy evening in Green Apple full of dim sum or green tea icecream, browsing through the books, reading entire chapters there, smiling at the conversation around me. I've bought some of my favorite books there and sold some not so fabulous ones for store credit (wheee!). I've discovered strange networks with the friendly people behind the register who on more than one occasion told me where to get the book I was about to buy cheaper in another section. I was one of the first people in line the day they opened their warehouse section, I've found great reads in the 'free for all bins', I've listened to the always eclectic (sometimes scary) music in the annexe, I've taken countless identical pictures of friends in front of the elf...I've loved every moment.
When friends came to San Francisco, showing them Green Apple was right up there with the Golden Gate and Chinatown...and everyone felt the magic.
My parents leave SF tomorrow and so I won't have a home there anymore. There are so many things I'll miss about my favorite city but walking to green apple on a foggy afternoon and whiling away hours there will be one of my favorite memories. I'll be back soon Green Apple...stay cool.