Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Read Books (Bookstore) in Eagle Rock
In future trademark litigation, the owners of Read Books (Eagle Rock Blvd. & Chickasaw Ave.) will argue that the name of their store is not simply descriptive of their products and therefore unworthy of trademark protection. Instead, they will surely argue that the name of their store is in fact an exhortation, a command, a mandate.
For a long time, I would moan that Eagle Rock lacked two things: (1) a movie theater (any movie theater would do, even a tiny one like the Los Feliz 3), and (2) a bookstore. We had Imix Bookstore (which isn't so much a dedicated bookstore as much as a bookstore/t-shirt, handbag, and stationery shop/performance space) and the Occidental College bookstore, which is kind of collegey, but features an excellent sales shelf), but no dedicated, general bookstore, new or used. Read Books arrived on Eagle Rock Boulevard a few years ago. I remember telling the owners of the store, with real emotion in my voice, how happy I was that they had opened their store in Eagle Rock: I meant it.
Read Books is a tiny little used bookstore. It would take up just one small room in one of the larger used bookstores in nearby neighborhoods (e.g., Brand Bookstore in Glendale, or Book Alley or Cliff's Books in Pasadena). The store has a wonderful, cozy family feel to it. It's run by a husband and wife team, and occasionally, their kids, who seem to often be hanging around the store after school or on the weekends, doing their homework, talking to their parents, helping out, or just reading quietly on the couch at the front of the store. The store's owners seem to have a goofy, maybe black sense of humor: the store's blog features, in addition to a Literary Fight League, a literary Death Watch, and there are a few shelves reserved for the work of the Recently Deceased. I've noted in the past that the owners are very nice and fun to interact with about books, book buying, and putting potentially embarrassing books into inconspicuous brown bags.
Read Books has a wealth of options for such a small place: a decent collection of first editions (in the glass shelf), good selections of mystery and sci-fi on top of a wide range of standard fiction and classics (why is MATING always prominently featured in used bookstores? and why does no one ever seem to be reading it?), a respectable drama section, a rotating rack of old and recent literary journals, the NYT and the LA Times, and a surprisingly extensive array of current magazines.
On my frequent visits, I tend to browse through Read Book's two shelves of foreign-language materials. A foreign dictionary or textbook, to me, is never a bad deal. I bought a German self-study book at Read Books a few months ago for three dollars or so and have been studying it for a few weeks now: I've definitely gleaned more than three dollars' worth out of the book so far -- Das Buch war preiswert. This is why used bookstores are so fantastic: you spend two, three, or five dollars, and it's almost always well worth it. But it's also this kind of thinking that gets me into trouble. For a long time, I was going to Read Books every week, buying several books -- partly because it always seemed like a good idea, and partly because I wanted so badly for Read Books to survive and stay in our neighborhood.
Sometimes I worry that Read Books does not get the attention it deserves, given its relatively anonymous location on Eagle Rock Boulevard, a little bit away from all the action on the Swork-Imix block up near Colorado. I would exhort you to go to Read Books, and to heed the store's admonition (preferably after you've made some purchases). Please tell them that the Octopus sent you and that he enjoyed his brown-bagged book.