The Bookstores of Berkeley: Moe’s

Berkeley has more bookstores than a lot of other places I’ve traveled to. While Taiwan had a pretty big bookstore in the densest part of Taipei, it seemed that every other corner of Berkeley had a hidden treasure trove of books waiting to be discovered. When we were heading to different conference activities like our tour of Stanford or our tour of the San Francisco Bay at night, I saw at least another half-dozen bookstores that I didn’t have time to visit.

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I would have been more heartbroken about these lost book-shopping activities, but the tour of the San Francisco Bay at night was gorgeous. I was able to make one more stop at a bookstore, called Moe’s, during a Sunday street fair right down the street from the Berkeley campus.

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While wandering past the street performers and admiring the chalk art random people were asked to leave on one section of road, I found a pile of poetry books that instantly attracted me to the front of Moe’s store.

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I walked past the smooth jazz sounds that had enchanted the two giant pink stilted ladies and the heavens opened up to reveal a four story bookstore for me to play in. My Sunday was going to be a fun-day.

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My journey through Moe’s began by looking through the contemporary book section. I found such treasures as Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever, a book that appeared to be about the lead singers of Black Flag and The Misfits being bros for life.

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Moe’s also had a large children and young adult literature section. I didn’t snap a picture, but it seemed that there were a few anime fans wandering through Moe’s that had settled in this section of literature as well and were all dressed up in their purple fairy outfits. I’m not sure what these young teens were imitating, but it made the children’s section feel even more enchanted than it would have otherwise.

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I was really impressed with the size of Moe’s poetry section. I know it may be a strange thing to be impressed by, but their poetry and poetic criticism section was almost as large as their children and young adult section. I thumbed through the poetry books for a while and found several I could fall in love with forever. Because I love books. Because I’m an English major. Or, more accurately, because I am a book nerd.

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Besides the poetry, Moe’s had a lot of books on my other favorite subject – Shakespeare. While I read a lot of research, commentary, criticisms, and Shakespeare’s plays themselves, I don’t generally read a lot of pop-culture Shakespeare books. The best one I saw in the store was one called How Shakespeare Changed Everything.

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Thumbing through the book, I noted it asserted things such as Shakespeare’s work changing American history through the Lincoln assassination. The book is right. John Wilkes Booth’s father came over to America from England to play several Shakespeare roles, and stayed because of his popularity in the theater. His three sons became actors as well. John Wilkes Booth was the middle son and, well, we all know what he did at one of his performances. While this book was playing six degrees of separation, its information was accurate and matched that of other research I had done on my own.

Overall, my trip to Berkeley was filled with good food, good people, and good books. I don’t think there’s a thing I would change about my visit, except maybe extending it a day or two to explore a few more bookstores.

Amanda Riggle

Amanda Riggle

Amanda is the Managing Editor at The Poetics Project and of The Socialist, the national magazine of The Socialist Party USA, as well as the Lead Editor of Pomona Valley Review's upcoming 11th issue. She graduated with a BA in English Education and a minor in Political Science. She is currently enrolled in an English MA program with an emphasis in Literature. During her free time, Amanda enjoys writing poetry, reading, traveling, crocheting, watching entire seasons of campy shows on Netflix, and, of course, writing blogs.
Amanda Riggle

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