Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Nerd on Vacation: Los Angeles

I'm spending the weekend in Los Angeles, visiting book nerd friends. What do book nerds do on vacation? Sure it's LA, but I've taken four trips over the years to visit this particular friend, and we've never once ventured near Hollywood. Instead we've spent quality time at art museums and, of course, book stores. Today we drove downtown to check out The Last Bookstore, a mostly used store that's been in its current building for a couple of years. If you've read Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind and fell in love with the idea of the Cemetery of Lost Books, you will absolutely love this store.

The ground floor of the building features a nice assortment of used books--lots of literary fiction and space given to film, photography, art, design, etc--as well as a coffee shop and CD section. What makes the store special, though, are the details. In the nooks there are book sculptures and cool industrial touches; the light fixtures are bulbs hanging on bicycle rims, for example.

Looking down at the main floor. It's a mix of industrial touches, book art, and books.

Flying books decorating a window, and quirky found objects scattered around.
And then there's the space upstairs. Some of the upstairs features working artist studios, and there are interesting art pieces scattered around.

Book sculpture leading into the Labyrinth.
I think the artist is David Lovejoy.

And then there's the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore. All of the books upstairs sell for $1, and there isn't a whole lot of traditional organization beyond some general thematic groupings. The science fiction novels are hiding in an antique vault, for example. And there are book sculptures, and books shelved by color, and crazy crannies everywhere.

Book tunnel? Hell yes.
You get the feeling that there are treasures lurking for the adventurer with time to search.

The blue and green books on in the Labyrinth.

Color coding can be fun.

Really, though, for those of us who dream of living in an actual Book Land, The Last Bookstore comes pretty close to making it a reality. You don't go to The Last Bookstore with a specific title in mind and only five minutes to dart in and out. You go there to explore, play Indiana Jones among the stacks, and delight in the written word. That's a glorious feeling.

When you walk in and see the check-out desk, you know you're in for a treat.

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