A Book Lover's Guide to Telegraph Avenue

Photo of Chelsa Lauderdale
11 December 2015

Enjoying a good book relies on way more than just the book itself. Sometimes the right setting, ambience, or even food and drink can elevate a book to another level and make reading it that much more enjoyable. Since summer is just about coming to a close, what a better way is there to make the most of the weather than by enjoying your favorite book in an environment that also offers so much inspiration?

Book + Coffee | © Unsplash

9:00 a.m. – Grab a Book

Whether rereading an old favorite or starting on something new, Telegraph will have everything necessary to create the perfect reading environment. So bring a book from your own collection, or stop by one of Berkeley’s many great indie bookstores to get the day started. Consider bringing some books up to the avenue for trade. Turning them in at one of the used bookstores can lead to a new book or even two, practically for free. Fans of architecture may want to pick up a book on the Arts and Crafts style, as many of the buildings in Berkeley are stunning examples of this technique, or perhaps a book of beat poetry to get into the spirit and vibe of Telegraph in its heyday.

10:00 a.m. – Coffee Time!

Nothing pairs better with a good book in the morning than a cup of coffee or tea. The best place to go for either is Caffe Mediterraneum, right across the street from Moe’s books. They offer a menu of delicious breakfast and lunch options and make the best latte on the street. There’s also plenty of seating available, and many corners to hide away in to get fully immersed in a book. Take a break from reading to play a game of chess, or enjoy the company of the breakout poet or street preacher sitting nearby that frequents Cafe Med.

Mars Vintage | © Chelsa Lauderdale

11:00 a.m. – Dress to Impress

Telegraph Ave is also home to some of the quirkiest clothing shops in Berkeley. Ever wanted a pair of socks or hat that screams of a love for Dr. Seuss? Sockshop and Berkeley Hat Company are located directly across the street from each other and have styles for every fandom. At Mars Mercantile, create an outfit head to toe from the racks and racks of vintage clothing. A pair of aviators and a cigarette holder make an easy Hunter S. Thompson look, or grab a pre-worn blazer and red plaid hunting hat for that Holden Caulfield not-a-phony-esque appearance.

12:00 p.m. – Create A Soundtrack

© Eco 84/Wikicommons

While record stores are a dying breed throughout most of the country, music is alive and well in Berkeley. Amoeba and Rasputin are the two biggest record store chains still left standing in California, and they are both conveniently located across the street from each other on the Ave. The days of cassette tapes and compact discs are long past, which just means that they are super cheap now. Dig out big sister’s CD player from the garage and create a perfect sunny day reading soundtrack! Between the massive selection of the two stores, it’s practically impossible not to find the CD you want – even that one hit wonder group from the 90’s.

1:00 p.m. – Lunchtime!

Telegraph has a massive variety of foods for any palate. For a sunny afternoon, though, there’s nothing better than a bite thats cold and refreshing. Montague’s Gourmet Sandwiches on Channing is always fresh, filling, and customizable, as all great sandwiches are. For dessert, CREAM, which is practically next door, can cool the heat off any day with their cookie and ice cream combinations that cost only a couple of bucks. Summer also means hot dogs, and there’s no better place for a tasty dog than Top Dog. Try the chicken apple sausage for a delicious dog with a tasty twist!

CREAM | © Chelsa Lauderdale

2:00 p.m. – Find a Reading Nook

Truthfully, Telegraph Ave itself may be the worst place to sit outside and read a book. With college students and tourists constantly flooding the streets and the – for lack of a better word – vibrant Berkeley street residents shouting from every corner, there is never a lull in activity. However, there are plenty of surrounding places to take in the scenery and enjoy a good read. There are numerous hiking trails in the surrounding area, including Tilden Regional Park. The trek gives ample opportunity to appreciate city landmarks on the way, like People’s Park and the abundant Arts and Crafts style buildings that surround this part of the city. UC Berkeley’s campus has plenty of great places to sit and read when classes aren’t in session. Try the lawns near the library or at the far edge of campus by the journalism department, or sit next to the small stream that runs through the campus.

Remy’s Mexican Restaurant | © Chelsa Lauderdale

5:00 p.m. – Cool Off With a Drink

Spending all day outside can really build up a thirst. While Shattuck Ave is where most of the area’s bars are, there are a few good places to stop in and wet your whistle on Telegraph. Pappy’s Grill and Sports Bar has a full bar and a variety of seating, whether your preference is outside, facing the street for people watching, or you can sit right in front of the big screen. Down the street, Remy’s Mexican Restaurant does margaritas like they were born with cocktail shakers in their hands, and they come in just about every flavor under the sun!

Berkeley Haste St. Mural | © Chelsa Lauderdale

6:00 – Don’t forget the swag

Before heading home for the day, make sure to visit some of the Berkeley street vendors. Most of the vendors on Telegraph sell handmade originals and make their living by coming to the Ave everyday and hoping someone wants to buy. Give back to the thriving community or at the very least check out their wares. It’s not hard to find something extraordinary and one of a kind, from hand-knit scarves and sweaters to handmade jewelry and Berkeley inspired tie-dye shirts. It’s all on the Ave!

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