recycle bookstore

recyclebooksBobCatWas I crazy?  Spending a recent Monday holiday driving back over my commute with three young children so we could pass the gray day in a recently opened independent bookstore I longed to support?  Littlest received a gift card for her birthday a few months ago, and I secretly harbored this fear the adorable little shop in downtown Los Gatos would be shuttered by Christmas.  It’s really tucked away, you see, and when we made our way through a parking lot and down the little lane it rests on, what disappointment to find the door locked and the sign Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  All those books just sitting there in plain sight, visible from the black paned cottage windows we pressed our noses to.  The extra set of kids with me had bills burning in their pockets.  My own little love with two week’s worth of menagerie keep allowance stuffed in her coin purse, in no need of convincing she could use that instead of the gift card to buy her books if only we could find another store.  Please! We MUST. FIND. BOOKS!  Thank God for Siri and Recycle Bookstore in downtown Campbell.

I’ve never spent any time in downtown Campbell, and if you are familiar with the greater San Jose Bay Area, you’d know Campbell is really just a blink of an eye if you blink at just the right time.  If you gave the town any thought, which I doubt, you’d imagine it must have some idyllic agrarian historical past because of its most famous landmark The Pruneyard Shopping Center.  But for most locals, “The Pruneyard” is known more for its two high rises and their illuminated PEACE sign lit up during the Christmas season than for any prunes or yards.  Most of us whiz past this landmark on our way somewhere else.  The orchards are long gone, the city a suburban smattering of post war strip malls.  Blip.  That’s Campbell.  Oh, but it isn’t.

Take a turn off of Winchester Boulevard and suddenly you are swept twenty years back in time into a three to five block thriving little downtown that still has plenty of free parking.  Boutiques, vintage clothing stores, trendy al fresco eateries with outdoor fire pits and teak lounge furniture.  Starbucks.  check.  Cupcake shop.  check.  Independent bookstore.  CHECK!  No sooner than we heard Your destination is on your left did I turn the corner and glide right into a curbside parking space with no meter to feed.  It really was like a dream.

And so, of course, was the bookstore.  It was larger than I expected and full of new and used titles.  Lined on two sides by windows flooded with filtering light and arranged around neatly organized shelves, the kids could set off on their own and still be within earshot.  We noticed about a half dozen well-worn cat beds tucked away here and there along the window displays and presumed that in some patch of sun we would find the store watchman snoozing among a stack of books.

On this particular day there was one clerk at the ready to help us find our titles. I had one kid looking for Geronimo Stilton, another on a quest for the second Harry Potter and my own vying for more Warriors and dragon books.  I brought along my copy of Anthony Marra and sat in a chair as these three ran around like they were set loose in a toy store on the day some new action figures came out.  They began calculating the cost of their books, and the sister of the extra set — who has some compulsive book obsessions and insists on new with no creased corners — who won’t lend her books to my oldest love because she can’t adhere to her stringent expectations and return them in pristine condition — was scheming to get her brother to give her his extra money so she could get the new Potter she coveted.  She carried it under her arm with an elder sister’s certain knowledge she could eventually cajole a few dollars out of her little brother, clutching it tighter and shaking her head at me when I pointed her in the direction of all sorts of fabulous books at used prices she could afford.  A determined girl after a good book is not to be tampered with.  She means business, and with expert unspoken finesse — or more like sweet generosity on her brother’s part– or perhaps his accepted futility — she got her pristine Potter and we headed off to plop down in one of the nearby sweet shops to enjoy our stories.

Recycle Bookstore sits on a corner of E. Campbell Avenue across from the Starbuck’s, but if you head away and up one more block you can experience local independent brewer Orchard Valley Coffee,  a bustling roastery with a well-worn wood floor and plenty of tables and leather seating.  We settled into some club chairs encircling a low table and littlest love dove right into her new book.

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Are you someone who likes to pop into bookstores during your travels?  Have you got an especially sacred independent bookstore tucked away in your hometown?  Two or Three Little Birds welcomes readers to submit their reviews via the contact form available on this website.  Happy reading!

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