A Trip to The Last Bookstore

If you live in the Los Angeles area and haven't made a trip downtown to The Last Bookstore, you must, especially if you call yourself a book lover. 

I love this counter where you pay for your purchases.  Yes, it is made from books.

The second floor of The Last Bookstore is called the Labyrinth.  I loved the book window, and the arch made from books, and the small rooms filled with books.

There are also other great features that decorate the space.  Everywhere you turn, there seemed to be something else to look at.

I took the two pictures (above) from the second floor looking down onto the main level.

Some great wall art/collages.

Everywhere you look there are books, some are shelved by author's last name, others by color, and even more just find their way onto any shelf.  It is truly a magical place.  The books upstairs in the Labyrinth cost $1 - and there are signs to grab a box and fill it up.  On the main floor, books range in price from $2/book to full price for new books.  And there is definitely something for everyone.

I visited The Last Bookstore with my book club.  We found a corner to hang out in and discussed Three Times Lucky and ate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and drank Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola.  A good time was definitely had by all.

Bookstore Touring in Connecticut: Final Post

Over the past few days, I have gotten to visit some bookstore gems in Connecticut.  (For a complete list of Bookstores listed with the New England Independent Booksellers Association, click here.) Here are the final two stores that I had the pleasure to stop by while visiting my parents.  First up, Elm Street Books in New Canaan, Connecticut:

For all the years that I had lived in Connecticut and on the east coast, I never drove down to New Canaan, Connecticut.  This gave me a perfect excuse to go visit.  My sister and I headed down for brunch at Le Pain Quotidien. After a yummy meal, we walked a half a block to Elm Street Books.  For a small store, it has a wonderful selection of both children and adult books.  On this particular weekend morning, it was quite busy with customers browsing for books, and children searching for books for their summer reading list.

When we finished our visit to New Canaan, we headed east to visit Breakwater Books in Guilford.  

This tiny bookstore was quiet on an overcast Sunday afternoon.  The store carries both adult and children's books.  And, I was pleased to see that they had quite a few titles in their children's section including many recent releases. 

I also loved the picture book corner with it's fun steps to climb or sit on to share stories.

Hope you have enjoyed this little series on independent bookstores in Connecticut.  I know I had fun visiting all of these great places.

Bookstore Touring in Connecticut, Part 4

Today, my tour of Independent Connecticut Bookstores continued.  I actually made it out to Madison, Connecticut which is the home of RJ Julia Bookstore. I had heard about RJ Julia on twitter and knew I wanted to make this a priority in places to visit.  Several authors have tweeted about book signings at the store.  Most recently, Stephen Savage - creator of Where's Walrus? - signed there on July 16, 2011.

There was signed stock!  WooHoo!
RJ Julia is a great place to visit.  And people obviously know this because the store had a great crowd milling about flipping through books and hanging around.  In one corner, a teen was intently reading a book.  The children's section was busy with parents and children searching out their favorite books with enthusiasm.  In another room, which appeared to be filled with travel books, customers sat in great big chairs reading. I loved all the various rooms in this store.  Oh, and if you want to grab a coffee or a quick bite to eat don't forget to stop by the café.
Children's Section - Upstairs
Really, this room had been busy seconds before.

I wish my trip would have allowed for a longer visit at this great store.  I could have hung out here for hours and plan on scheduling a longer visit when I return to Connecticut in December.  I also had a lovely chat with Liz - an employee at the store -  who chatted with me about Stephen Savage's visit, book blogging, and more.  I love friendly staff.

Next time you are traveling through Connecticut, if your trip takes you near Madison take a moment to stop in and visit RJ Julia. 

Bookstore Touring in Connecticut, Part 3

After my original plans for Saturday (July 23rd) changed, I decided to go bookstore hunting in Western Connecticut.   With my sister and aunt as travel partners, we took the scenic route as we found various bookstores listed on the New England Independent Booksellers Association website.   Stops 2 & 3 found us in Kent, CT at the House of Books and Ridgefield, CT at Books on the Common.  Both have a definite  quintessential New England charm and are set in these picture perfect little towns.

House of Books, Kent, CT -

Any bookstore that is located next to a coffee shop/chocolate store definitely makes may list.  When we arrived at House of Books, there was jazz music playing down the alley on one side and the aroma of chocolate wafting from the other side.  The store was apparently once a house and there are various rooms filled with books, games, office supplies, and art supplies.  In the back, there were a couple of rooms designated for children's books.  I found some of my favorite picture books on display.

 His Shoes Were Far Too Tight: Poems of Edward Leer
Little Chicken's Big Day by Jerry & Katie Davis
Punk Farm by Jarrett Krosoczka

As we headed back home, we figured we had just enough time to swing by Books on the Commons in Ridgefield, CT.  This charming store sits on the corner of the main common area of Ridgefield.  If I tried to explain a "commons" to Californians, I am not sure they would know what I mean.  However, practically every little New England town has a main street and a commons.  This definitely added to the charm of this store along with the hardwood floors. 

I really like stores with big comfy chairs.  But I sat on a stool to look through books.  Better to 
avoid the temptation to stay forever.  

I found some friends at the store too!!!

Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger
Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
And lots and lots of YA friends

In driving back home, our GPS decided to take us on the scenic route (I think we found every unused back road possible).  I had forgotten just how gorgeous the back roads, wooded area, and hills of Connecticut can be.  Maybe it is true - "you can take the girl out of New England, but you can't take New England out of the girl".  Definitely fun to be reminded of how fond I am of this part of the world.

Bookstore Touring in Connecticut, Part 2 - The Hickory Stick Bookshop

My original plans for today include a train ride from Connecticut to New York to visit Books of Wonder and to stop by Bergen Street Comics for George O'Connor's book release party.  Let's just say 100+ degree heat and humidity and some other issues cropped up causing a change in plans.  As a consolation trip, my sister and aunt agreed to travel around northwest Connecticut searching for independent bookstores with me.  We managed to make it to three shops in one afternoon.

Our first stop was in Washington Depot, CT.  Yep, never heard of it before either and I grew up in Connecticut.  However, if you are coming through the Connecticut/New York area you might want to get to know The Hickory Stick Bookshop.  It is probably my favorite of the three stores that I stopped in today.  And author friends - I understand that they have quite a number of book signings.  I know I will certainly be recommending this off-the-beaten-track hidden jewel to everyone I know.

This place was a great find.  Friendly staff and a well stocked children's section were noticeable from the beginning.  There was even a shelf with autographed books including a whole collection of books by Wendell Minor and several by Lane Smith.
It's A Book signed by Lane Smith
I also found Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter already out in the wild.  I was so excited that I had to pick up a copy right then and there.
apologies for the poor lighting

After visiting with the store, my sister and aunt and I headed over to The Pantry for lunch.  This was not your typical New England restaurant or menu.  Aside from a full range of gourmet packaged foods available for sale, there were creative entrees and sandwiches on the menu along with some fabulous desserts.  I tried the Apricot Chicken Almond Salad Wrap which was quite delish.

On our way out, I noticed this great sign for an after school art program right next to the bookstore.

If you are in the area and looking for a somewhat cooler place to spend some time and love books and food, I would suggest placing The Hickory Stick Bookshop on your places to visit list.