The Best Bookstores in L.A.

Here’s our list of the top places in the county

When you walk into The Last Bookstore, the air is heavy and the smell of books is everywhere and the wall art made from damaged books makes it feel like you’ve been transported.

Pillars reach through both floors giving the store a feeling mysticality. The book art, including a piece on the second floor where books are literally flying off the shelves, and the tunnel of books along a ramp add to the magical atmosphere  

The two story building used to be a bank but now the space is filled with books of every kind from classic fiction on the first floor to the horror vault on the second.

There is also a “rare annex” attached to the side of the building filled with rare books and art. Besides the abundance of books they also have a section for music, there is a small area near the front of the store devoted to records of every kind.

The Last bookstore also holds many events on their stage from author signings and book clubs, to poetry and live music. This magnificent bookstore can be found at 453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Another amazing bookstore is the Iliad and no I don’t mean by Homer (also author of the “Odyssey”) this one is right here in North Hollywood. The outside is painted with various scenes and characters from some of the most famous books including The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and a portrait of Shakespeare.  

The outside is also adorned with book spines that are larger than life, The inside is just as whimsical as the outside as books are crammed into every possible space on the shelves and the bookcases reach to the ceiling.   

Be warned though if you are allergic to cats this is not the store for you as the owners let their cats roam the store freely, and while the cats are extraordinarily friendly they are prone to jumping on people so they can be pet.

The Iliad is located at 5400 Cahuenga Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

Vroman’s bookstore has a bit more of a typical feel of a corporate bookstore however its uniqueness is there in its children section. The back wall of the children’s section has a mural of the Hundred Acre Wood from the classic children’s story, Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.

Besides being filled with books for kids the children’s area also holds story time readings as well as author events. Beyond the children’s events they also host book clubs, writing workshops, and art exhibits for the adults and teens.

Vroman’s sells a lot more than books. They sell stationary supplies, greeting cards, and childrens toys too. They even have their own “Home Emporium” where they sell anything from dishware to windchimes. Vroman’s Bookstore can be founds at 695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

Also in Pasadena is Century Books which has a much more mom and pop atmosphere as it’s a lot smaller and has christmas lights hanging outfront.

The small store has a balcony that hangs over the first floor where they have even more books but also a art gallery and a small exhibit on Jane Austen. A couch sits on the second floor where people can hang out and read for a bit.

The whole store is extraordinarily cozy. The owners are very friendly and usually offer a glass of water and a small tour when you first walk in. Century Books is located at  1039 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106.

Last but not least the Book Alley may seem small from the outside but don’t be fooled as the store stretches back quite a ways.

Book Alley sells much more than books though. They also sell records, art prints, cds, and movies alongside all the numerous books they have.

Book alley is only a few blocks away from Century books at 1252 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

Elena Jacobson can be reached at [email protected]