It was the last day of my friend Lisë’s visit to Los Angeles.
“I’m at Natalie’s store. Can you come meet us?” (They had met on a foodie/bookie press junket to Trinidad.)
Sure. She texted the navigational info:
Traveler’s Bookcase. 8375 West Third Street.
Betw Kings / Orlando. Parking in rear.
I was there in 15 minutes. And we spent the next hour chatting with the delightful Natalie Compagno, owner of this wonderful bookstore, and her colleague Victoria (who seems to be able to put her hands on any title in the store without a moment’s hesitation).
If you love to travel… or love to read about adventures in far-flung locales… or learn about the cuisines of different cultures… or you need a nice gift for a reader… or party favors for your book club… or a globe (and if you don’t have a globe, you need a globe)… or all sorts of reading paraphernalia… or maybe you enjoy the occasional evening-with-the-author… or you want to send a card that isn’t sold in every other card-selling-venue… or you’re just in the neighborhood (close by Beverly Center) and you are craving 15 minutes of soothing book-bound peace and quiet… then Traveler’s Bookcase is a destination you need to discover!
I was recalling my love of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, and suddenly Natalie was putting a volume in my hands. Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr. The author is the great-nephew of M.F.K. Fisher, and I quickly scanned the dust jacket notes:
Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, six iconic culinary figures, including Julia Child, James Beard, and M.F.K. Fisher, found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate and talked late into the night about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery…
Sold. And added to the queue on my nightstand, along with Armistead Maupin’s final novel in the Tales of the City series, The Days of Anna Madrigal – which I cannot bring myself to begin because I’m not ready for the whole Tales saga to end!… Two books by my greener-than-thou friend Fritzie von Jessen: I Killed A Penguin, An Ecological Memoir and Tough Plants In A Fragile Land: Saving Our Planet, One Garden At A Time… and News From Outer Space, a slim volume of poetry by another bizarrely talented friend, Christina Quinn. Pretty soon, I’m going to need a bigger nightstand.
Small, independent bookstores are gems in the urban landscape. Each one an improbable oasis, a place to slow down, maybe sit down, and hold something in your hand that will not blink, ring, vibrate or beep at you. Books, after all, are natural teleportation devices. They take us out of our landscapes, out of our heads, out of our ordinary everyday routines. They take us someplace… else. And travel bookstores take us everywhere else!
So here’s to the happy collision I had yesterday with Traveler’s Bookcase and Natalie. If you’re in LA, treat yourself to lunch or a snack at Joan’s On Third or Magnolia Bakery, and then meander over to this awesome bookstore. You’ll be hooked, too.
Day 071 #100happydays