Sunday, 10 November 2013

Penguins and Sandcastles

As readers of this blog will know I am visiting family in the USA.  For some reason I have not had much jet lag, must have been all the drinking of water and the lovely flight I had on Virgin Airlines even if the food wasn't that great. 
Urban Ore- Novato CA
 I am visiting my sister who lives just north of San Francisco.  Yesterday she took me to a second hand bookshop in quite a posh suburb and it was the most sanitized shop I have ever seen. Books weren't very old and in excellent to mint condition. Lots of beautiful novels by great authors but I couldn't get in the mood. It was too clean.

I really like a bookshop that puts dust in my nose and dirt on my hands.  The kind where you find wonderful old quirky and out of print books and sneeze the whole time you're looking at them.

I thought this was quite touching.
Today we found such a place. My sister has taken me to it before when I have visited. It is called Urban Ore and is in the Novato area north of San Francisco. Any local would be familiar with it because it is like the largest tip shop known to man. There are old pianos, doors, window frames, dishes, clutter and you name it you will find some version of it.

My sister was looking at old doors with glass panels in it. I went straight to the books and records. I listened to the Beatles 65 LP album as I rummaged through shelves of books. Good condition? Most of them. Dusty? Absolutely. Fun? Yes

Now, my friends know I collect vintage Penguin books and I have never found a vintage English published Penguin book in the USA in my life.  But this area has lots of universities and lots of readers and they read Penguins at one time.  I found one vintaged numbered Penguin from the main series. I didn't have my  list with me and I probably already have it. It does look familiar but it was the only Penguin in the place and the book area is very large. 


Of course I bonded with the little fella and thought, "Right. Now you will live in a large colony of Penguin books in Tasmania for many years to come."  So into the bag he went.  I also found another Penguin book that is part of the Penguins 70 anniversary series which is newer but they are lovely little books. These seemed to be the only two Penguins in the place so thought they'd travel back to Australia better together than alone. After all it is a long flight.

The other books looked interesting as reading books so I picked them up as well.

Books bought included: Vintage Penguin No. 1922, Henry James, Spoils of Poynton; Melissa Bank's The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine (Penguin 70's series); Circuit by F. Jimenez, Story of a Migrant and A Signature On A Portrait- Highlight's of Tolstoy's Thoughts. This little book is also signed by the author. He evidently lives in California so must have been locally published.

The rest of the day was spent at Ocean Beach in San Francisco attending a sand castle competition near the Cliff House.  We walked several miles down the beach and back and by the end of the day I was happy to get back to my sister's place to now collapse into bed.  Funny how jet lag starts to catch up about 2 or 3 days later.
This book is Moby Dick. There was a large whale nearby but the book caught my attention.

The Sydney Opera House. It was next to the Great Wall of China exhibit.

The Statue of Liberty
So American Penguin hunting has begun and so far it is going okay.  But lots of fun is being had along the way. We still have several weeks to go.


  1. I live in the Bay Area myself and can attest to the fact that our second hand book shops are quite posh places for the most part. I've always doubted accounts of badly damaged books in second hand stores that I read about on websites from the U.K.

    Urban Ore is over in Berkeley, though, yes. You may want to check out Black Oak Books also in Berkeley or Green Apple Books in San Francisco. They are really clean, but they have a huge selection of second hand and discounted books.

  2. Thanks James, we might get to those bookstores yet. I appreciate your suggestions and also the geography lesson. This area all looks so large to me considering the size of Tasmania where we live.

  3. I'm glad to hear you arrived safely, and it sounds like your trip is off to a great start!

  4. I'm catching up (again), and responding to several posts!
    1. The shop where you bought books sounds amazing - I can't resist places like that - and I love those sand sculptures. People are so clever.
    2. What a lovely choice of teapot and cups for you. Just the thing to enjoy a drink from while you read a Penguin.
    3. The century of books list is interesting, and I may steal it though, like you, I am trying very hard to only read books I own, or books from the library. I'm on an economy drive...

    1. Thanks Christine, it is always lovely to hear from you.


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