A Literary Guide to Los Angeles
Los Angeles is the city that taught me that our lives are our own to design. It’s where I found the courage to break away from my 9-to-5. It turned a rule-follower into a dreamer. Consider this literary guide to Los Angeles my love letter to the place that I’ve called home for one of the most defining years of my life.
Many people think of Los Angeles as a place for aspiring actors, instagram influencers, and struggling side hustlers. It is all of that, but LA is also a city of people pursuing their dreams despite all odds. Seeing as a lot of those dreamers have bookish ambitions, this city is a bookworm’s wonderland. Let this literary guide to Los Angeles help you find a bookish corner of LA to call your own.
A Literary Guide to Los Angeles: A Destination Guide for Bookworms
Best Coffee Shops in Los Angeles
At the risk of this post being incredibly outdated and so over in about a month, I’m going to share a few of my favorite places to grab a cup. They’re trendy. They’re minimalist. They serve 10 different types of milk. I still love them anyway.
Pages to Passport was started at the Redondo Beach location of The Boy in the Bear. A lot of trip planning for my long-term travel journey happened while sipping one of their legendary salted caramel lattes. With it’s minimalist design, friendly staff, great workstations and comfy leather couches, it’s the coffee shop in LA that I’ll miss the most.
On a trendy street in Venice Beach, Tom’s flagship store serves up great coffee in a half store, half coffee shop environment. Perfect for refueling before checking out Venice boardwalk if you’re brave.
Visit LA for long enough and Urth Caffe will draw you in with their all organic coffee and tea selection. Don’t let the long lines deter you. That’s the universal LA sign for “something great is in there.”
With locations around the city, Blue Bottle Coffee Co. is a staple of coffee culture in LA. It’s simplistic, hipster, and wonderful. Get the New Orleans iced with oat milk. You won’t regret it. Your bank account might.
Best Bookstores in Los Angeles
Give a bookworm an hour to wander and they’ll likely find themselves at the nearest independent bookstore. I have willingly traveled for more than an hour in LA traffic to visit them. They are worth every honk and every bead of stress sweat. This literary guide to Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without a section on the best independent bookstores in Los Angeles and these are the best of the best.
It’s large. It’s busy. It’s in the heart of LA’s less-than-desirable downtown, but I can and have spent hours in The Last Bookstore. Featuring installations to make a bookworm’s heart swell like a book tunnel and a labyrinth of bookshelves, The Last Bookstore is a must for any literary lovers.
This indie bookstore in West Hollywood offers a great selection of books and music, helpful staff, and many bookish events.
Skylight books is what a neighborhood bookstore should be. It’s personal. They have a resident store cat. Authors love to have events there. It feels like home but offers all of the selection of a larger store.
There are no guilty pleasure books for Small World Books. Their motto is “the book you want is the book you should have” If you’re near the Venice boardwalk (and if you’re visiting LA, you probably will be), head here.
Best Literary Locations in Los Angeles
Not all bookish locations in LA are bookstores. This city has been home (or temporary home) to many writers throughout the years who have left their mark in obscure places around the city. These are a few of the best.
Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and Scott Fitzgerald, among many others, were known to have relaxed in the back room of this restaurant back in the day. Today, the walls are decorated with memorabilia of the good ol’ days.
The LAPL was my happy place here in LA. Getting my library card was the first order of business on my first day off here in Los Angeles, and for good reason. There are so many beautiful branches of the LAPL that Time Out wrote an entire article on which ones are the most beautiful.
William Faulkner was known to have a sip or two at the Hollywood Roosevelt. It still has a retro feel today, but you’re more likely to see a few low level celebrities sipping on the rooftop cabanas than the writer of the next great American novel.
What to Do in Los Angeles for Book Lovers
Even if you’ve exhausted everything on this literary guide to Los Angeles so far, I still have a few ideas for you.
Explore the Literary LA Map
For an overwhelming assortment of places mentioned in literature, visit the interactive map to literary LA developed by the L.A. Times.
Pose with a Mural
I told you that Los Angeles was more than just insta-famous models and it is, but there is a side of LA that embraces it all. Posing in front of one of the city’s many murals is more than a hobby around here. Boost your #bookstagram and get your model on.
Read a Book
You don’t need me to tell you twice. Find a nice park bench, a towel on the beach, a cozy coffee shop or the passenger seat of a car stuck in traffic and read a book from my list of Best Books to Read Before Traveling to Los Angeles.
Join a Literary Crawl
If you time your visit right, join Book Quake’s literary crawl around LA. They also do literary crawls in 13 other cities are the US and counting!