Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Welcome to The Last Bookstore (and more) in Los Angeles!

My friend and I planned an outing to downtown Los Angeles yesterday.  Our main goal was to visit "The Last Bookstore" on the corner of 5th and Spring Streets.  What a find!

We decided to take the train to avoid all the traffic and parking challenges.  And it was so much fun to arrive at Historic Union Station.  It feels like you've just stepped out of a time machine.

The Last Bookstore was a pretty long walk from the train station, so we hopped on the Metro and got off at Pershing Square.  We quickly found the bookshop,  just a couple of blocks away, and squealed with delight at the first thing we saw upon entering:  a checkout counter constructed of old books!

The cavernous inside of building, which originally housed a bank, is quite grand - complete with columns and gorgeous painted high ceilings. We explored the main floor a little bit on our way to the back staircase. I'd read that the upper mezzanine level is literally a labyrinth of used books, with many priced at just $1.00!   This is what greeted us going up the stairway...

There were crazy paper sculptures and artwork everywhere, but the best part of the whole place was a tunnel made of books, leading to the rooms with all the $1.00 books!  We found thousands of books, organized loosely into sections - but not alphabetically by author - so be ready for a search. In some areas we had to navigate around boxes of books (the owner buys books from local non-profit organizations who've had them donated). 

Meandering our way past the shelves and shelves of books, we found a fun area full of hardbacks organized by color. I bought several children's books, including  Dogger, by Shirley Hughes, as well as a book - Film Music, A Neglected Art: "The History and techniques of a new art form, from silent films to the present day" - for my son who has a degree in film animation.  He's going to love it!

My treasure find was a hardback copy of Caldecott & Co. (1988), by Maurice Sendak.  I got if for just $6.00 in the lower level of the store. The book is an anthology of Sendak's essays on writing and illustrating for children. The ''Caldecott'' of the title is the Victorian illustrator Randolph Caldecott, one of Sendak's great heroes.  He also highlights Beatrix Potter, Walt Disney, Maxfield Parrish, George MacDonald, Jean de Brunhoff, and Mother Goose (to name a few).

Our next stop was Grand Central Market for a quick lunch.  Right around the corner was a building I'd been wanting to see ever since watching the movie "The Artist".  I loved the stairway scene, and I was so pleased to discover that it was shot on location in a building in Los Angeles: The Bradbury Building.  It was pretty plain looking on the outside, but walking in the door, I gasped and smiled at the same time as the lobby opened up before me into a space that I wished I could enter everyday!
Why can't we design places like this anymore???  Think how happy people would be to walk into a workplace such as this every morning, as opposed to the stale, municipal structures of today!  Seeing old buildings makes me SO nostalgic for the past (more on that in my next post).

My friend had never been to the Los Angeles Public Library, so we walked there next.  If you saw my blog post from two years ago, you'll remember that I had a fun jaunt there with my daughter and her friend (who happens to be the daughter of my fellow sight-seer on this trip!)
The outside of the Los Angeles Public Library is surrounded
by an iron gate full of book quotes.
This is the breathtaking ceiling in the rotunda where the children's library is located.
We had one more interesting historic place to see before heading home.  More about that in my next post...


  1. Thanks for sharing! Next time I'm in L.A., I've got to check out these places downtown!