5 Questions for Christopher’s Books

Every neighborhood deserves at least one good bookstore. For Potrero Hill, a desirable residential area with commanding views of nearby downtown San Francisco, that store is Christopher’s Books. The small street corner shop has been in business since 1991. Jackson Tejeda is its assistant manager.

ZYZZYVA: What’s the coziest spot in your store for reading?

JACKSON TEJEDA: My favorite spot is in this comfy old wooden chair that we set outside the door on sunny days. Customers sometimes buy books and then sit in the chair in the sun and start reading. This is particularly enjoyable for me as a bookseller when they’ve just bought a children’s book and are reading it aloud to their little one. 

Z: What’s a little-known fact about your store?

JT: One thing that sometimes surprises people is our participation in some movies. Most people know that Marvel’s Ant-Man lives in the apartment of the bookstore. Fewer know that in the early 2000s, this same apartment was the filming location for Sweet November, a Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron rom-com in which the two spend November in the apartment and neighborhood. Last year, a super fan of this movie sent us copies of the DVDs. This fan lived in Texas, but they wanted to come to the store, pretend to find it on the shelf, and then buy it from us. They never ended up coming, but I took one of the DVDs home one night to watch it. It was awful. 

Z: How would you describe the smell of your shop?

JT: Christopher’s smells like paper, plastic, and coffee. Often a customer will walk in and say, “It smells so good in here!” Sometimes we get whiffs of the French food from the restaurant across the street. 

Z: Which new book would you recommend most to readers?

JT: My number one recommendation for a new book is Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Seamas O’Reilly. In Derry, Northern Ireland, O’Reilly is the second youngest of eleven children whose mom has just died of cancer. This retelling of his upbringing is a hilarious, brash, and deeply moving portrait of a family in grief. He traces the evolution of his grief and the absurdities of life in rural Northern Ireland with a refined, dark, and dry humor.

Z: Aside from your own, what’s your favorite bookstore?

JT: I adore the vibe of used bookstores, particularly Dog Eared Books in San Francisco and Lamplight Books in Seattle. I’m very impressed with their curation of books and the neat and tidy vibe.

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