Best Place to Rent a Book: And be reminded of the Beat Generation

Book Zoo

About a block from Telegraph Avenue’s Caffe Mediterraneum, where Allen Ginsberg allegedly wrote a bit of his epic “Howl,” this little slip of a secondhand bookstore hardly gives you room to turn around. On the other hand, you get old-fashioned attention, conversation, cups of freshly brewed tea, and occasional impromptu poetry readings from owners and operators Nick Raymond and Erik Lyngen (whose horn-rim glasses and thick dark curls eerily evoke the young Ginsberg). The inventory ranges from antiquarian art books and Japanalia to recent releases to lurid-jacketed collectible pulp fiction to potboilers of assorted vintage. By way of a mini-library arrangement, a selection of best-sellers and the like can be “rented” from the store for a small fee. Having opened just a few months ago at the tail end of Berkeley’s legendary Bookshop Row, this place has already become a hangout for those who believe buying books isn’t just a simple matter of choosing and checking out.

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