5 South Bay Community-Centered Bookstores

May 20, 2013 5:00 AM

Even though many Bay Area bookstores have closed in recent years, some are still standing strong. Several of the remaining South Bay bookstores are not just book sources; they are hubs for the community and intellectual centers. Whether you want to attend a reading, get a book signed by the author, join a book group or simply browse books in a real store, these bookstores are local treasures.

East West Bookstore
324 Castro St.
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 988-9800

East West Bookstore is more than just a bookstore. It is a center for holistic health, Eastern traditions and metaphysics. Located in downtown Mountain View, East West regularly hosts a variety of talks given by yogis, meditation teachers, alternative health experts and many well-known spiritual leaders. Upcoming events include talks on enneagrams, spiritual healing, how to manifest your soulmate and instruction on using tarot decks. East West also hosts repeating events like a monthly Prosperity Book Club. East West sells a wide variety of books on almost any spiritual or metaphysical topic, including yoga, meditation, Buddhism, tantra, healthy living, vegetarianism and many more. In addition, the store sells items for use in these activities, like yoga mats and blocks, meditation pillows and stools, jewelry, personal care items and clothing.

Linden Tree Books
265 State St.
Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 949-3390

Linden Tree Books is a bookstore in downtown Los Altos that has been in business for over 30 years. Although its focus is children’s books and products, Linden Tree has a selection of items for all ages. There are events at Linden Tree nearly every day, including story times for different age groups, author readings, book launches and book groups for children and adults. This summer, Linden Tree will be sponsoring a series of musicians and performers for kids in its Summer Concert Series on Wednesday mornings.

Related: South Bay’s Best Independent Bookstores for Kids

Kepler’s Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 324-4321

For nearly 60 years, Kepler’s Books has been one of the Bay Area’s premiere bookstores. Recently retooled, the Menlo Park fixture has also become a community resource, sponsoring a wide variety of author events like readings and signings, lectures and a variety of monthly book clubs. Recent events have included an evening with Anthony Bourdain and talks by Amy Tan, Isabelle Allende and Mary Roach.

Hicklebee’s Books
1378 Lincoln Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125
(408) 292-8880

Hicklebee’s, located in the Willow Glen area of San Jose, specializes in children’s books. Its selection features a variety of books for all ages and even a few books for adults. Hicklebee’s happily gives advice on books for parents and teachers, and hosts a variety of events at the store. An “Adults Read Teen Lit” group and a “Teen Lit” group meet monthly. Hicklebee’s co-owner Valerie Lewis presents a preview of all the new books for children several times a year. The shop also offers a book of the month club for any age from preschool to adult. The staff will choose a unique book, wrap it up and send it to the recipient each month. If you are expecting a baby, you can put books and toys on a baby registry or create a wish list for your child, great for birthdays and holidays.

80 E. 2nd St.
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
(408) 778-6467

If you live south of San Jose, you probably already know about BookSmart. This bookstore – and more – in Morgan Hill provides south county folks with not just reading material, but a number of book groups, children’s classes and events, and author readings. In addition, the bookstore is next to a small cafe, ice cream parlor and coffee counter. BookSmart sells educational toys and homeschooling supplies. BookSmart currently has several programs for children and adults. The KinderClass program is held at BookSmart each Wednesday morning for preschoolers and their caregivers. Each second Saturday features an art class for children. And the BookSmart book club for adults meets monthly, talking about a new book each month.

Related: San Francisco’s Best Independent Bookstores

Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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