Since I went to LA last week to visit my sister, I thought I would start the blog’s virtual summer road trip there. You might think Los Angeles is all about the movies, but there is plenty of literary culture and history to experience. Many novelists like Raymond Chandler, Bret Easton Ellis, Evelyn Waugh, Bukowski, and Ray Bradbury lived and/or set novels in LA. And many literary greats like Fitzgerald, Huxley, Tennessee Williams, and Faulkner moved to the city to work for Hollywood later in their careers. Also there isn’t a better place to buy a fish taco … which can be a nice snack when you need a reading break.
Best Ways to Get to LA: There are lots of ways to get to LA: planes, trains, busses, cars, etc. My favorite way to get to LA is on a train called the Coast Starlight 11. Aside from having a beautiful name, it goes right along the coast from Northern California and has big tables that make it easy to write on. This trip, I flew into LAX and that worked out well too! Although for a true road trip experience driving makes the most sense, which works out well because having a car in LA is helpful to get around.
Recommended Sight #1 – Los Angeles Central Library: The Central Library is located downtown and is one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen. There are murals depicting the history of California in one room and a series of friezes telling the story of Ivanhoe in another. There is also a beautiful collection of atrium chandeliers in the Tom Bradley Wing, along with lots of cozy spots to read and pretty much every book you can imagine wanting. This is not to be missed!
Recommended Sight #2 – The Last Book Store: The Last Book Store is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the library and probably the coolest bookstore I’ve ever been in. It mixes together new and used books and wandering around I saw so many books that looked interesting. The first floor is very well organized (it is actually one of the easiest used bookstores I’ve ever browsed through) and then upstairs is kind of a free for all with books organized by color, size, or sometimes just in boxes (the plus side of the hunt is that they are much cheaper!). Upstairs also features some beautiful book art installations.
Other Recommended Sights – Stories and Skylight Books: I also went to Stories and Skylight Books, and really enjoyed both bookstores. Skylight sells new books and had fantastic employee recommendations. This book – described as part J.K. Rowling and part Alice Munro – looked particularly interesting. Stories was smaller with used books and a great cafe. Right next to stories is The Time Travel Mart, partly founded by author Dave Eggers, which sells novelty items from the past and future.
Sights I missed, but hope to visit someday: With so little time and so much sister-cuddling to do I couldn’t visit ever literary landmark in LA. Some things I hope to do on future visits include:
- Going to the Musso and Frank Grill, where Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald liked to hang out in the 1950s.
- Visiting the graves of Truman Capote and Ray Bradbury at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
- Seeing the room where Ray Bradbury first wrote the story that would become Fahrenheit 451 in the UCLA Powell Library.
Would you like to visit any of these spots in LA? Let me know in the comments!
And if you are interested in writing a guest post featuring another stop on the virtual road trip please read this post and/or contact me. We’ve got some fun guest bloggers signed up already, but more posts = more road stops = more fun!