September 17, 2013

The Last Bookstore

 Way back in another lifetime, I taught a couple of English & writing classes to college students. I was freshly out of grad school myself, and though I was near 30, the fact that I was newly married, immersed in college life, and without any kids made me feel like I was still fairly close in age to the incoming generation of students.

That all abruptly changed when one of my students, a confident young guy, asked as I stood in front of the class what I liked to do in my free time. Or maybe he asked what my husband and I liked to do together. So I told him, and the class, about our favorite kind of date night. (But since we didn't have kids back then, it wasn't "date night." It was just "Friday night.")  I told him that we liked to first go out to dinner, and then while away several hours at our local Borders bookstore, often hanging out until closing time. (Remember Borders?)

The student, and the class in general, was horrified at our idea of "fun." (Although I recall a couple of females defending me, saying that it was "cute.")

Anyway. Maybe you'll think the same about our sole family outing over the 3-day Labor Day weekend. It was crazy-hot out, and humid, and I could not think of anything to do. The beach sounded good, but too adventurous. Our local pool was just too damn hot.  I had a craving to look at some books.  We don't have an independent bookstore here, which is unfortunate, and a true lack. We do have a Barnes & Noble, but I wasn't in the mood to browse in that sort of corporate, pre-selected atmosphere. I could already guess what they would and wouldn't have.

I remembered seeing some photos of The Last Bookstore, and got it in my head to check it out. The Last Bookstore is in downtown Los Angeles, located in an old bank.  It's also about 80 miles from my front door, which is a long way to drive to casually browse through the stacks.   On the other hand, downtown L.A. is only about 20 minutes east of my mom's house, so I was able to bundle in a "trip to grandma's" at the end of our bookstore jaunt.

It was worth the drive. There were books everywhere. Used and new books live happily together on the sorted shelves downstairs.
Books are art, and decoration, and functional: the front cash register is housed behind a counter area made of stacked books. 
As you head upstairs, you pass through a tunnel of books:
Upstairs are used books, and most are only $1.  They're sorted loosely by genre, and also by color:
The old bank vault houses true crime & horror:
The only negative is that it was still crazy-hot and humid in L.A., and the store didn't have air-conditioning. Yikes. Most any other day, that wouldn't be such an issue, but on one of the hottest weekends of the year, it was awfully stuffy and close, and I felt pretty uh, "glowing" by the time we were done. But it was still fun, and we still stayed for a couple of hours, checking everything out, including the artist studios and shops, also on the 2nd floor.

In the end, I bought an armful of books: four for me, three for the kids, and one for the husband, an oldie but goodie from his childhood:
My grand total was less than $25.00. 

I wish that we lived closer, so that The Last Bookstore could be a frequent stop for us, and not a special event.  In any case, I know I'll be back someday, hopefully on a cooler day when I can wear boots and a sweater and feel all cozy surrounded by books and other kindred souls like me, who think whiling away a few hours in a bookstore is a perfect way to spend their day (or date night). 

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