Reading transcends time and space, as we are now, literally, doing. Reading allows us to momentarily stop living our lives in this world, and move into an alternate world. Whether you are reading an adventure, biography, novel, some myth or mystery, all books inevitably take us on a journey. The journey takes us outside of ourselves to the destination that the book reveals to us.
It’s no surprise then, that as readers we find ourselves instinctively drawn to bookstores. Readers—real readers—don’t merely walk into a bookstore. We walk into a bookstore and enjoy the literary ambience of crowded shelves and great minds and authors beckoning us to join their world and journeys, imaginative and literal.
There is a new destination for the reader in our neck of the woods, Blackhawk Plaza, to be specific. This classic, new independent bookstore—Read— just across the paseo from Draeger’s, nestled in the former Ann Taylor location, is a paragon of what the browsing experience should be, and I absolutely love it! Probably because it is run by readers like me, and precisely because it is the antithesis of the superchain store we have been forced—no, resigned—to accept.
Read is, first and foremost, an independent bookstore dedicated to the democratic principle of offering access to information to the community at large. This means that if you are looking for a book, and if it is still in print, the well-read staff there will find it for you. Anywhere, with top-drawer customer service. This is the vision that Read’s owners, Jean Paul Wardy and Fred Bruning, who also own Blackhawk Plaza, had in mind when they developed the concept.
A perfect mix of an unhurried browsing experience, new and classic books and unusual non-book merchandise make for a counterpoint to the chain-store harried shopping misery.
The staff at Read. has a strong foundation in the book world. The managers, Vicky Panzich and John Hamilton, and bookseller Anthony Smith, have a combined 55 years of owning their own book shops and being involved in the independent bookseller world at every level. Bookseller, Sherry Ghambari, comes from a library background, specializing in children’s books.
The entire staff is amazingly qualified and extremely helpful. Although brand new, Read‘s inventory is already extensive and eclectic, with over a quarter of the space dedicated to kid’s books. The surprisingly deep art, architecture, photography and interior design section is also impressive. Magazine racks are filling up and will, eventually, top out above 500 publications.
The non-book items focus on the writing arts, with a varied and wide selection of pens, along with the journals, sketchbooks, and cards that beautifully complement them.
Read has a series of special and regular events such as a writing workshop on Feb. 13 with Lynn Hazen on “How to Write a Children’s Book.”
The first meeting of the store’s bookclub took place on Jan. 28th, when local author, Mahbad Seraji, discussed his novel, Rooftops of Tehran. The bookclub will meet every fourth Thursday of the month.
A delightful children’s Storytime with Sherry and musical Singalongs with Carolline Harrison alternate every Tuesday morning at 10a.m.. Also, in February, Read will sponsor the San Ramon Valley Educational Foundation’s Read-a-thon, a fun program for kids which brings books to schools, that includes prizes, gift certificates, raffles, and pizza parties.
Read is in the early, formative stages. Don’t get me wrong, it is chockfull of books. I say in formative stages, because it all depends on how many of us get up to Blackhawk Plaza and allow the literary effect to set in, making it our local independent bookstore, that will no doubt take on some of our collective community character, becoming a reflection of us and our neighborhood; our mirror inner psyches, our metaphysical beings, our will and wonder, represented in the physical form of this beautiful new bookstore. If you’ll permit me to make a pun, you’ve got to come over to Blackhawk Plaza and, literally, Read the experience!
See you there! I’ll either be in the spy novel section, or trying to find out of Tom Robbins’ is really insane or a mad genius, or traveling once more to Italy. Who knows, I may just decide to join Hemingway in the Spanish-American War instead. From Read we can set out on countless journeys. Won’t you join me on the road?
For more information, please call the bookstore at 925 736-9090.
Reads hours are:
Monday – Thursday: 9am to 8pm
Fridays & Saturdays: 9am to 9pm
Sundays: 9am to 6pm