Spotlight on Bookstores: *Book Passage* in Corte Madera, California


I almost want to ask you to skip this intro, read the guest post, then guess which blogger wrote it.  If you want to try, skip down, now!!  Her personality shines right thru the words, as if she’s talking to you.  Yes, it’s Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?  Her blog is full of humor, great conversation and debate, and a strange obsession with the Slanket.  Read more about her quirks (I can say that; Trish claims we’re all quirky!) and her most recent blog posts.  Trish is also one half of the TLC Book Tour management team; I’ve had a great time working with her and Lisa!


I’d seen this series Dawn has been doing, the Spotlight on Bookstores, but seeing as how my favorite local bookstore is Borders, I didn’t think I had anything to offer.

But in December 2008, I started going to this bookstore about 40 minutes away that I ended up really liking. These days I don’t do much shopping in bookstores, but poking around on the bookstore’s website, I was blown away by the things they offer. Let me show you.

The bookstore is Book Passagein Corte Madera, California. I went there for the first time to meet Wally Lamb. It didn’t even occur to me that a bookstore so close would be getting such fantastic authors until I started wondering if Wally Lamb would be touring and whether he might appear at a bookstore close enough for me to drive to. I’m glad I caught Wally Lamb, but I’ve also seen Kelly Corrigan (The Middle Place) and Kathryn Stockett (The Help), both in the month of March. Michelle Richmond is one of the authors coming to Book Passage in upcoming months, meaning I need to get to reading No One You Know. I regret not knowing about Book Passage when these authors came through: Azar Nafisi (okay, I did know she was coming but couldn’t make it), Quincy Jones, Amitav Ghosh, David Liss, Marilynne Robinson, Philippa Gregory, and John Shors are just a few who caught my eye. David Sedaris is coming to Book Passage, but as I’ve already seen him, I’ll probably skip that. All that to say, there’s a buttload of fabulous authors who stop by Book Passage while on book tour. That’s the first reason Book Passage rocks.

Book Passage also has a program called the Aunt Lydia Book Club. For the Aunt Lydia Book Club, you sign someone else up to receive a new book each month, which is handpicked by Book Passage. You tell them what types of books the recipient enjoys, and each month Book Passage sends the lucky duck a book. I may not need more books in my house, but I think this would be so cool!

Something else! They have a First Editions Book Club, where “members receive a signed first edition each month of a book that we have selected by an emerging author who shows exceptional talent and promise.” They’ve picked books from then-unknown authors such as Khaled Hosseini, Jacqueline Winspear, Kiran Desai, Sara Gruen, Junot Diaz, Lauren Groff, Abraham Verghese, and Chris Cleave. Even though I’ve got books coming out of my ears, I think I might just sign up for this program.

As if all this isn’t enough, Book Passage has four different writing groups/salons, plenty of book clubs, and will even deliver books you buy if you purchase them before noon.

And don’t even think that going to the bathroom isn’t totally fun. Because in the hallway to the bathroom are a bunch of poster-sized book covers, all of them signed by the authors. Don’t even think I wouldn’t hang one of those up in my house, because I totally would. It’s a book lover’s version of a Van Halen poster.

I’m not even done! When I used to listen to talk radio, I would eagerly anticipate when the owner of Book Passage, Elaine Petrocelli, would be on the Ronn Owensshow. You could call into the show, ask about a genre of book, and Elaine would have excellent recommendations. Your kid enjoyed Lemony Snicket but needs something new to read? Elaine knows what to recommend! You’ve read all of Harlan Coben’s books and need a new author to dig in to? Elaine knows what to recommend! Elaine is on the Ronn Owens show two to three times per year, which was two to three times too many for me, since almost every book Elaine talked about sounded fantastic. ;-)

Finally, I’ll tell you about the actual bookstore. First, when you approach the bookstore, you’ll see that there’s actually TWO bookstores: the main one, and “Book Passage Part 2″, which is a separate store that has only mysteries. Both stores are nice and spacious. I particularly like that the stores have books sitting on tables, so I can see books the store thinks are worth featuring. One of the things I like the most, though, is that the main store has pictures (wherever there’s blank space!) of authors who’ve come through. Most of the pictures are of very famous authors, but it’s a lot of fun to look at the pictures and see who you recognize.

This is what I love about Book Passage: they obviously love books. It’s not just a book store; it’s a place to meet your favorite author, a place you can evolve as a writer, but most of all, a place where you can love books.

(For anyone who skipped the intro, did you guess?!  Yes, it’s Trish from Hey Lady!  Whatcha Readin’?)

18 comments to Spotlight on Bookstores: *Book Passage* in Corte Madera, California

  • [...] I’m also at She’s Too Fond of Books in the Spotlight on Bookstores feature. I wax rhapsodic about Book Passage. [...]

  • I really like this bookstore…If I’m ever in the area, I will have to pop in! My favorite bookstores have books on tables as well and I love bookstores that have author readings on a regular basis.

  • Ti

    Nice post Trish. I am going to check this place out during my Frisco vacation this July!

  • @ Serena – Aren’t books on tables just so inviting?? And you should definitely pop in if you’re in the area. The bookstore always has so much going on…I love it!

    @ Ti – Definitely check it out in July! It’s not far from San Francisco…less than 20 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll have to tell me what you think!

  • Ooh, I’m so jealous! I wish I lived close to a bookstore like this. Great post, Trish!

  • She’s awesome! Lol, she’s being featured at Kittling today too. Wow she’s really lucky to have such an amazing bookstore so close!

  • @ avisannschild – I wish the bookstore that was closest to me was as cool as this one, which is 40 minutes away! Fortunately, 40 minutes in California is nothing…totally doable.

    @ Ladytink_534 – You’ve got me blushing and you’ve totally made my day! :-)

  • I’ll probably end up emailing you trish, if I find myself in California, since that will probably be years down the road…since I live on the other coast now. :) But we had a great bookshop here, Olsson’s that did similar things with books….but now I have Politics & Prose to haunt!

  • Visiting the Bay Area and my sister isn’t complete without brunch at the DipSea and a trip to Book Passage. I dream of doing an author’s reading there…

  • I wish we had a bookstore like that here.

  • What an amazing place! I want to go to this bookstore! I don’t think any authors meander down here to Orlando…

  • I’m so jealous of anyone having such a great bookstore so close to home. Looks like she covered everything a booklover would want to know. Pics make a real difference too in a post like this too, really makes it professional looking. Great post and a great feature, congratulations to both of you.

  • You truly captured the treasure that is the indie bookstore, and all that they do for book lovers and their communities. I feel fortunate that I got to experience a little of Book Passage myself the last time I was in the Bay Area. What a warm, welcoming, beautiful bookstore. Thanks for a great post!

  • How I wish I could visit in person! What a lovely book store. Thank you for transporting me there.

  • Thank you for such a well written post about what has to be an amazing book store. I looked up their web site and then the google map and have figured that it’s probably quite a ways away from our son’s place in Windsor. But for some of their special events, it would be worth the drive. Thanks Dawn and Trish.

  • I think I’m going to have to relocate to Corte Madera, California!

  • This place sounds like the bookstore of my dreams! Great post!

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