Let’s keep this short. Go and visit 453 South Spring Street in the downtown LA area. You’re welcome.
Curious about the address? It is the home of The Last Bookstore, described aptly by one source as “a literary treasure trove in downtown LA”. This place, started in 2005, is one of the few independent bookstores left near you. In the age of e-readers, digital content, and entities such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, The last Bookstore is proudly keeping alive the tradition of independent bookstores where people can go, immerse themselves, browse, and buy and sell print books. They themselves recognize that their days might be numbered, as evidenced by the proclamation on their webpage: “What are you waiting for? We won’t be here forever.” While it’s still there, I would urge you to go and check it out. Even if you are not a fan of reading, the place itself has a wonderfully quaint feel about it which even the most book-averse person will find hard to not enjoy. Additionally, The Last Bookstore also sells magazines, graphic novels, records, and art.
The first floor at street level has a main room crammed full of books on everything you can think of. There are bestsellers near the entrance, close to the sales counter where you can also buy shirts and mugs. There are additional rooms for books on various topics, such as cookery, geography and manga. The back of the main room is the place to sell books. There are also chairs conveniently located for you to sit down and immerse yourself in your read. While all this is fairly standard fare in a bookstore, it is the second floor where The Last Bookstore really starts to feel special.
The second floor contains a labyrinth – a maze of book shelves mostly containing secondhand treasures. I am personally a fan of science fiction and I found rare gems hidden among these shelves. There is a room off to the side for books on crime and horror – another genre which I find interesting. You will find a window flanked by books which will give a nice picture perfect moment for those Instagram-ically inclined. But wait, we haven’t reached the best part yet. It’s a tunnel formed by books! It really gives the place a special feel, to walk through a tunnel knowing that you are surrounded by books, of all things.
On the other side of the tunnel is a larger labyrinthine room with thousands of books, and couches to sit and relax. The collections here are very extensive, from sports to world history, travel to self-help. All these books are for sale, and are fairly reasonably priced, mostly within $10. But prices aside, it is the richness of the collections which draws me every single time. There are books on topics I didn’t know could have a whole book written on them. Not for nothing does The Last Bookstore contain almost 300,000 works for you to browse through and marvel at. Had this place been closer to my house, I might have visited it every week.
There are also other aspects to The Last Bookstore apart from just books. As already mentioned, they have a good collection of periodicals and graphic novels. They also have an art gallery on the second floor. While nothing spectacular, it adds to the overall charm and quaint feel-good vibes of the place. The Last Bookstore feels likes a place where you can forget your worries, forget the outside world, the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, the mental demands of modern life, the invasion of technology, and instead settle down and let its old-worldly, almost surreal, charm take over you. Here’s hoping that it continues to thrive for many years to come.