Have you met Margot at Joyfully Retired? She says that since she and her husband have retired she now has “the time to indulge myself in books, family, travel, food, travel or whatever.” I have to smile because even though books come first in the list, it’s clear from her blog that family is first in her life! Check out her book reviews, recipes, and household tips. Each Monday she posts a beautiful photo of one of the Favorite Places she and her husband have visited. This week she shares the Spotlight on Bookstores about Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol, California. I asked Margot’s permission to put one sentence in bold – it really sums up the symbiotic relationships between local independent bookstores and their communities.
When my husband and I decided that retirement for us would mean selling the house, buying an RV and traveling North America, we knew there would be one big problem: books. We both love to read and we were not going to give that up. The question was how to find the books we love in places where we’ve never been. As it turns out, it’s actually easy, fun and part of the great adventure. And occasionally we run into a little serendipity.
Many of our fellow RV-ers are also book-a-holics so trading books with them is as easy as going to the laundry room at most campgrounds. But there comes a time when you need a good cozy bookstore. Usually we just ask a “local” to give us a recommendation. Or we go online and check out Map Muse or Indie Bound.
This has led us to some wonderful bookshops. The last few months we have been in Northern California. If you ask a local reader here, they will tell you – Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol. Located about 50 miles north of San Francisco, this charming small town is an eclectic mix of California cultures. And that is also what we found at Copperfield’s Books.
The bookstore is actually divided into two stores. First we went in what I will call the new-books store. When we walked in it was immediately welcoming with a light airy feeling with colorful books everywhere and mellow music playing quietly. The big table right inside the door had a wide assortment of local tastes – everything from wine books to Tao to organic gardening to poetry and more. Past that table we found an excellent section of new and classic literature, all sorts of non-fiction, a nice nook with travel literature and a small selection of magazines and journals.
What really excited me at this store was a superb section in the back devoted to children’s books. It was extensive for a small sized store and organized beautifully. I usually don’t have trouble finding something for our preschool granddaughter. But when it comes to the fourth-grade granddaughter, I find most stores only carry the minimum number of books. Here in the small town of Sebastopol I found all sorts of options divided by pre-readers, lower and upper elementary and even middle school. To me this is good. It says there are enough book buyers in the Sepastopol area who believe in raising children surrounded by good books and a bookstore owner willing to lend the space.
While I buried myself in the children’s section my husband was checking out the rest of the street. He found a nice place two stores away to eat lunch. It’s called the East West Cafe and has a very diverse menu. I won’t do a restaurant review here but just let me suggest, if you stop in, that you try the garlic fries. Mmmm. Coincidently, we met the owner at a dinner party a few weeks later and discovered he was born in Damascus and has devoted his life to good food and travel. It shows in his cafe.
After lunch we walked up the street to the other Copperfield’s Books. This one is devoted to rare and used books. Right inside the door we found the oldie-but-goodies, some locked in glass cases. Beyond that are thousands and thousands of used books, most of them fiction. My husband found some very good home design and landscaping books for our son’s new fixer-upper. There was a nice section on history (California and other) as well as poetry, philosophy, gardening and so on.
In this store we found lots of mysteries and thrillers and other genres that weren’t available at the new-books store. Here there were also lots of chairs. The other store only had two or three. I could have used one in the children’s section. The rare and used store also had that same nice mix of music as the other store. I asked one of the staff where the music came from and she said, “Oh, it’s just our personal cd’s.” The staff has nice, mellow taste.
You will find Copperfield’s Books in nearby Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Napa and Calistoga. These are also nice, charming towns north of San Francisco. We visited the Calistoga store and found the drive getting there as beautiful as the little two-block downtown area. The store was very nice, although you could tell they stocked it to appeal to the Napa Valley Wine Country tourists that frequent the area. All of the stores sponsor additional events: author book readings, literary luncheons, speaker series, etc.
For us the stores in Sebastopol made for a nice destination experience. Not your pop-in-and-buy-a-book kind of place. It’s one you can just take your time and enjoy. If you buy something to take home, your enjoyment can last even longer.