In 2009 I moved to San Francisco for college, not to be confused with my move across the Bay Bridge (the old one) in 2013 to Berkeley. I picked up my keys on Telegraph Ave after spending about 12 minutes in all of the East Bay in total, a stroke of luck for the optimist in me. I had never even heard of Michael Chabon and off I went.
This past weekend however, I moved way way across the US to Brooklyn! I started a new position back in September with my company and the job was moving to our headquarters, so my long time dream of NYC-wanderin' came true!
I really loved living in the Bay Area and so much of my bookish interests were rooted there. I initially started a book blog because I was so inspired by the therapy of going to the amazing bookstores in the East Bay as well a way to connect with people from all over the world with similar interests. While I have been a big reader since I was a kid, it was really reborn once I moved to Berkeley/Oakland. I think I really discovered the importance of being alone during these few years and so many of my favorite solo memories were weaved in with the bookish world.
I lived less than block away from Moe's, a multi-floor used bookstore that was featured in The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman and I gazed at the same storefront. I had so many serendipitous book hunt moments there and so often when I was sad or stressed, I headed to Moe's to roam the aisles with no intent. I had been searching for months for a specific edition of To Kill A Mockingbird and the night before Go Set A Watchman was released, I went on a final voyage to find it. I had no luck, until I pulled a stack of books off the top shelf with a ladder, AND FOUND IT THERE. The guy at the stand tried to charge me full price because he thought it was new, not used, but someone had already gently read it and sold it back to them! Perfect find.
I had kept seeing this really neat bookstore front that said 'wild vortex of books flying at you,' and weirdly stumbled upon it within my first few weeks of working in DT Oakland. I freaked out inside. The bookstore was even better in person, Wolfmans General Interest. The internet does it no justice, but I have this weird obsession with the store AND owner. I was so overwhelmed visiting for the first time, that when I got home, I wrote him a hand written letter about how special his shop was, how it felt like I was walking into his own personal reading den, and how the world needs more people like him. He recommended me The Dinner by Herman Koche, and he is this stranger in the world that has impacted me in such an anonymous way- very neat!
I went on a date with a guy where most of the night we debated books we loved and hated in a really general way. We went to Walden Books at 10pm before heading to a bar after dinner, and pulled our favorites from the shelf and showed each other, like some sappy Richard Gere movie. He didn't believe me that I didn't like On The Road by Jack Kerouac and then a week later he called Harry Potter, Harold Potter. But that was alot further than most of my other romances have gone, leading up to the point of why I think American Classics aren't classic. It was still really cool and funny, and while I am sure that could happen pretty much anywhere, I'd like to think it was 'very Oakland.' Something I cant articulate, but it feels appropriate.
My first book club and stranger meet-up was in the Bay at the bar Jupiter in DT Berkeley. I discovered my love for sour beer and thats how I also discovered one of my 2015 favorites, Station Eleven. Its funny how I called out sick that day to finish the book, but I showed up to the meeting and a girl in the 'club' didn't even start it, but thought 'it would be cool to come.' But I met someone else who convinced me to pick up the second book of Outlander, so it was a big win.
Rambling with personal memories, but all in all, the Bay Area spoiled me with fantastic second-hand book stores and $1 day at Fort Mason. And while I am very excited about all the books I will dive into in New York, people I will get to slur with about favorite reads, and bookshops I will stumble into while trying to avoid the (already) icky weather, the Bay will always be where my book love sprouted for the second time in my life and that will always be where it was the most important.