Wednesday, July 27, 2011

San Francisco Bookstores — Browser Books, Cozy Spot on Upper Fillmore

This is the fifth in a series of short articles on independent San Francisco bookstores. While their numbers are dwindling, there are still many colorful, one-of-a-kind bookstores in various colorful, one-of-a-kind San Francisco neighborhoods.

I remember slipping into Browser Books on foggy nights in the late ‘70s. In the early ‘80s, the Elite Café was born. Between the bookstore and the sour cream pecan pie at the café, there was good reason to visit this stretch of Fillmore. Both the restaurant and the bookstore are still there. The pie, unfortunately, is nowhere to be found.

Pie or no pie, it’s still a great neighborhood. Restaurants of all varieties have blossomed — fine Indian, Italian, French, Vietnamese, Japanese and Mediterranean among them. There are plenty of stores that cater to the style-oriented, whether that’s to freshen your image or spice up your living room. The street hosts bakeries, a legendary hat shop and a wonderful, kindly place up the street to adopt a pet.

There is also, of course, Browser Books. Don’t let the size of the store fool you. While they carry books in all the standard categories, what you’ll find here is a selection that focuses on the quality of the books rather than the quantity. Plenty of great fiction here as well, books that range from contemporary and classic literary works to a big selection of retro pulp Hard Case Crime paperbacks. However, Browser Books has an especially expansive collection of books that appeal to our spiritual nature — a large number of books related to Buddhism, for example.

The next time you’re on Fillmore to catch a movie at the Clay, stop in at Browser Books. You will be surprised by all you can find in this compact, neighborhood bookstore.

2195 Fillmore Street, (415) 242-6194,

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