Wednesday, September 7, 2011

San Francisco Bookstores — Three Bookstores, All in the Family

Phoenix Books, Noe Valley — Though it recently changed storefronts, moving further into the Noe Valley shopping district on 24th. Phoenix is the oldest of three small, independent bookstores owned by Kate Rosenberger and George Kirby Desha. In the heart of the “baby district,” this one is the most family oriented of the three, though you’ll find an eclectic collection of books well suited to adults with discriminating tastes as well. The location is also great for wandering, shopping and eating. Great restaurants and bakeries add to an essentially full-service neighborhood, which serves increasingly young, affluent baby-bearing, child-rearing residents.

3957 24th Street, (415) 821-3477

Dog Eared Books, The Mission — Founded in 1992, the store at Valencia and 23rd Street has great windows and offers a range of books befitting the highly diverse neighborhood, which is often described as the epicenter for the city’s avant-garde. Despite all the emerging writers, artists and chefs, particularly on or near Valenica, the last few years have witnessed the closing of many of the neighborhood bookstores. Dog Eared dominates the English-language readers in the Mission. Great selection of magazines and don’t forget the boxes of cheap books out on the sidewalk.

900 Valencia Street, (415) 282-1901

Red Hill Books, Bernal Heights — Once a communist stronghold (thus Red Hill, suggests the bookstore’s web site), Bernal Heights is a pretty substantial little hill town within a hilly city. Like Potrero Hill, the remoteness of this neighborhood means we can go there and feel we’ve actually left town. Because many of the great restaurants there are only open for dinner, you might want to consider an evening visit to dine well, stroll the busy main street and browse through the cozy, warm and inviting bookstore at the western end of Cortland.

401 Cortland Avenue, (415) 648-5311

All three stores carry new books, but most of their books are used or are well-chosen remainders — meaning great bargains on great reads. Also check for author events. For more information go to:, where you can learn about all three stores.

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