Los Angeles’ bookshops: {Pages} A bookstore.

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As much as I love bookshops, I’m really embarrassed to admit that I rarely shop in them anymore. When I was younger, I remember  spending all of my allowance money in one afternoon at Barnes and Nobles. However,  I work in a library now, a library which has  a well curated print and digital collection.  I rarely have problems finding what I want. If my specific branch doesn’t have it, I ‘ll order it from the main one, read it, and and return it. It’s lovely really. I get all the joy of reading without the overcrowding.

But, I do  miss the rush of buying books. I miss the newly minted scent, the  uncracked spines, the feel of smooth and unblemished covers… I can’t be the only one drooling here.  Most importantly,  I also miss   adding to my own collection, to not have a deadline to finish a book,  and to support bookstores and the owners who run them with dedication and love. With all that in mind,  I’m starting a new series here that will showcase L.A.’s awesome bookshops. I’ll be focusing on independent, second hand, and even institutional shops. Basically, any cool bookish shops in L.A., which we have  quite a few I’m happy to report. 🙂

First up: {Pages} a bookstore.
Directions: 904 Manhattan Beach Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Pages is located in downtown Manhattan Beach, and it has a cute little beach front set up. It’s a stone throws away from the actual boardwalk and pier, so a trip here makes a nice day of both books and beach fun.

The store is everything you would expect from a beach bookstore:laid back, open, and vibrant. They have quotes lined on the walls e.g, the above William Faulkner quote. I also loved the  bookish designed t-shirts hanging on clothes lines.   Outside its door, there is a chalkboard that  boast new releases and the store’s calendar of events..

 

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It’s an intimate space (which made taking pictures awkward, but I tried). The staff is very friendly and not overbearing at all.  Their space is small, but they’ve made good use of it.  Their collection ranges from, new releases, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, children, YA, travel, and bibliophilic parphernalia. I spent quite a bit of time in their poetry collection.

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Pages is one of those bookshops that aren’t just in the business to sell books. You get a comfortable homey vibe from the store. They produce a lot of events in and out of their store. A quick peek at their calendar of events will show that  they try to bring in a  little bit of everything, with a focus on local authors and artist. The day I stopped by, they were getting ready for their Blended-Writers on the Stepfamily Experience event.

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Chairs at the ready for event.

 

I ended up walking way with Troika by debut author, Adam Peleman.

 

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The cover caught my eye, but the staff -pick tag  is what sold me. I’ll be sure to let you all know what I thought of it. One of my goals in this new series is to buy books I’ve never heard of, with an emphasis on debut authors.

Pages is probably the closest bookstore to me, and one of the very few indies in the South Bay area of L.A.  I always feel like coming here, but the one thing that always stops me is the parking. I just happen to be in the area this particular day and luckily on foot. It’s to be expected, however, with it being the beach and summer and all. Don’t let that deter you, though. Pages is a great little store with lots to offer. Stop in and buy some books, stay for an event, and end your day with a relaxing stroll along the boardwalk with Palos Verdes to your left, Malibu to your right, and  your lovely new books in your hands.

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Lesser Known Reads: Jennifer Clement

This is the start of a new series called: Lesser Known Reads. I will highlight lesser known books by either well known authors, or by lesser known authors and their books.

First up, Jennifer Clement.
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I was introduced to the lovely Jennifer Clement during my time at ALOUD. I picked up a copy of Prayers for the Stolen on a Thursday before I left the office, and I promptly had it finished by the end of the weekend. I could have probably finished in one day, but I stretched it out. Jennifer Clement writes so beautifully that her books are like treats. Bittersweet yet satisfying treats.

She is most widely known internationally, unfortunately, less so in the United States.I had the pleasure of meeting her when she came to ALOUD earlier this year to discuss Prayers for the Stolen. She is every bit as lovely as her novels. She has such an artistic soul, and listening to her talk was much like reading her novels. (Link to the ALOUD podcast if you’re interested.)

Clement is a journalist, writer, and poet.  She’s traveled the world, was the former president of PEN Mexico,  and has been awarded numerous awards for her work. She currently lives in Mexico City.

Books:

Prayers   Prayers for the Stolen tells the story of the voiceless women of Mexico. Women who are forced to dig holes in their yards to avoid detection, of young girls who dress like boys and blacken their teeth to hide their beauty, and of mothers who have also become fathers in their quest to protect their girls. This novel is truly terrifying because it’s rooted so deeply in reality. Jennifer Clement’s inspiration for this novel was the real life story of women in the rural regions of Mexico who dig holes in the ground to avoid kidnappings by the drug cartels. She wanted to write a nonfiction piece on this issue, but fear of retaliation stopped her. The novel centers around Ladydi and her friends’ lives  Guerrero. The jungle’s stifling heat acts as an appropriate backdrop for this tale.  Ladydi’s life is filled with suffocation, from her mother- a drunk kleptomaniac- and her surroundings.  She rarely leaves her hill for anything but school and errands. She and her friends live in constant danger and fear, and all they really know of the outside world is known through rumors and whispers from passing foreigners. It’s a truly unique tale, and Clement takes you on an unexpected journey. You will fall in love with Ladydi’s spirit and her resilience, even as her story breaks your heart.

Widow Widow Basquiat is part memoir part biography.Jennifer Clement is good friends with Suzanne Mallouk, Jean-Michele Basquiat’s long time girlfriend. The book chronicles Suzanne and Jean-Michele’s tumultuous relationship, and their lives in New York’s 1970’s and 80’s art scene. It’s a very short read, but again I found myself not wanting to let it go. It’s a very intimate look at Basquiat’s early life, his rise to fame, and ultimately his death.We are also privy to Suzanne’s life, and she is much more than a famous man’s girlfriend. Her life was insane and incredible. She did what she wanted and how she wanted it.  If tragic love stories are your thing,  ( for someone reason they are mine) then you will gobble this one up. You’ll be completely entranced by Clement’s poetic prose, and by an intimate glimpse into one of the  most celebrated and enigmatic artist of our time.

She has also published poetry collection in both Spanish and English, but they have been really difficult to track.  I’m hopeful I’ll stumble on copies eventually!

If you do pick up any of Jennifer Clement’s work, let me know what you thought of it.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

A Day In Santa Barbara

Unbook related post coming. For the record, I did warn you that these might creep in.  As I mentioned a few post ago, I’m going stir-crazy. I really really want to go somewhere and I’m becoming cranky and obsessive about it. With a free Sunday, and nothing to do, I decided to do something about it. I went a few hours north to a place I’ve always wanted to go but never have. A place that has been hyped and raved about by nearly all of my friends,  and let me tell you, Santa Barbara, you did not disappoint.

Needless to say, I did not plan this out. We left around noon which even for a Sunday is doomsday on the 405. We made it to the Santa Barbara mission just shy of an hour before closing.

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I immediately felt like I was back in a small Spanish village, or my dad’s hometown in Nicaragua.The streets were small, the houses showcased history, and everything had an authentic  old world feel to it.

Remember those mission projects we did back in elementary? (Cali education) mine was Santa Barbara, and no my replica did not come out like this,

 

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I nerded out while taking pics of it.  My favorite part of the mission is the  garden.

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The weather was also perfect. I think I jinxed us with my last post because the heat is back and with a vengeance. At least in L.A. it is. This Sunday, however,  it held up nicely, which I was ever grateful for.  The mission’s size is quite small, and we managed to see all of  it in good time. Unfortunately, it being a Sunday and early evening, most institutions closed  which is a shame. I’d have liked to see some galleries or museums.

I did plan to hit up one of the bookshops that popped up on google,  but my non bookish comrades were not down with the plan, and we ended up relaxing in this snazzy little garden instead.

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I did manage to finish a book, though. Oh well, I guess I have to come back now! With a final walk through downtown  which involved much ohing and ahing over adorable shops, we trekked back to L.A.. Back to the traffic, honking and wide open streets, but with the memories of a sweet little getaway just a few hours away.

We can I say, I am completely enamored  and I just had to tell someone about it. Not a lot of places temp me to leave L.A., but Santa Barbara certainly has. I feel so blessed to live in this gorgeous state. The entire drive up the coast I fell a little more in love with my  home state. And although I’m always tempted to leave it for foreign lands,  I shouldn’t be so hasty, there is so much to explore right here and right now.

What is your favorite place near home to explore? For my fellow Californians, any recommendations?

July Gloom

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“…It’s only natural. I suppose I’m a rare case, but I believe that rain has a bad reputation it doesn’t deserve. As for the sun…I don’t know. With the sun, everything seems too easy. Like in what’s his name’s movies…you know, the singer…Palito Ortega. It’s that fake innocence-I always find it exasperating. I think the sun gets too much good press. And that’s why it irritates me when it barges in on rainy days. It’s as though the damned thing just can’t stand to let those of us who don’t worship it like idolaters enjoy an entire day without sunshine.

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“I’ll tell you what I think is a perfect day…”An early morning sky covered with storm clouds certain number of thunderclaps, and a good steady rain all day long. I’m not talking about a heavy downpour, because the idiots who love the sun complain twice as much if the city fills up with water. No, I’m satisfied with continuous, even rain that lasts into the night. Well into the night, in fact, so I can go to sleep to the sound of the drops coming down. And if we can get a few additional thunderclaps, so much the better.”

Keep up the gloom, July.
Excerpts from my current read: The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri.