Photo courtesy of University Press Books

By Katherine Pisarro-Grant

University Press Books, on 2430 Bancroft Way (just east of Dana), may be the best bookstore you haven’t yet seen. In contrast to the narrow, high-stretching expanse of Moe’s, on Telegraph, University Press looks small from the outside, but seems to wind back endlessly toward Durant, daring any bibliophile to venture further in its depths. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, you look up and realize there’s an entire mezzanine level, half-filled with books on sale. University Press, founded in 1974 by the same couple who still own it, is well-stocked with all genres, literary magazines, and UC Berkeley course books, not to mention an extensive collection of old and rare books. Its dark wood and carpets and winding aisles render it cozy and timeless (sometimes literally; I whiled away an hour there last week before even realizing how much time had elapsed). Registering your name with the store means that you earn $20 credit once you’ve racked up $200 there (a dangerously tempting offer). Their owners are not just proprietors, but booksellers who really know and love books, and are eager to direct customers, whether you just can’t remember the name of that one book your friend told you about, or whether you’re looking for that out-of-print classic you thought might have evaporated.

Best of all, it hosts a litany of unique reading-related events. There are the monthly Slow Reading Dinners, where wine and food from the Musical Offering’s chef is served, and participants are asked to bring a paragraph or passage to dissect with relish; there is a generous student and “starving artists” discount that brings the cost down to $15. For the ambitious or adventurous reader, there is Madeleines, Tea, and Conversation, a series of interconnected, yet self-contained discussions of sensory-rich passages in Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” that happen almost every Sunday, accompanied (of course) by tea and pastries. In 2009, the East Bay Express named the store “Best Bookstore for Really Smart People.” We all know the pleasure of getting lost in a good book; come to UPB next time you want to get lost in a good bookstore.

For author readings and talks, see For more about Slow Reading Dinners and Madeleines, Tea, and Conversation, see

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