San Jose Stories and Tips

Twice Read Books

Books, magazines, and more!! Photo, San Jose, California

Twice Read Books is a legend in Downtown San Jose. The shop has been in its location since 1928 and you can literally smell the books as you walk by. Out on the sidewalk, as soon as you get near the doorway of the place, a truly invigorating and repugnant odor of old books will come sauntering out.

Inside are millions--not exaggerating--millions of books and magazines. If you want to find the March 1956 issue of Ham Radio Guide, this is the place. Some of the books have been here for decades gathering dust, and there are also hiundreds of boxes of books that people have brought in recently. And of course, there's an entire wall of adult magazines. In fact, I used to come here to steal Playboys when I was a teenager.

Unfortunately, the place is run by the quintessential old crank who thinks that just because a book is old means that he can charge $15 for it. The prices are completely outrageous and you can't bargain with the guy because you're arguing with a crazy person. The LPs, for example, are all $2.75 except The Beatles or Beethoven, which are $4. So if even if you find a torn-up copy of Frampton Comes Alive and the record itself is broken in eight pieces, it'll still be $2.75. His copy of the Windows 3.0 manual was, I believe, $18.

The store is open Monday through Saturday, from 12:20 to 5:00. That's not a typo--he opens the place every day at 12:20.

The old crank's dad ran the place, and before that, the guy's granddad ran the place. He'll be there until he dies. He's got more than a few screws loose, but there is a literal treasure trove of things to find here. Somebody out there is looking for the April 1972 issue of Good Housekeeping. I know it.

In fact, the store itself could use some serious good housekeeping.

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