There is nothing quite as enjoyable than whiling away the hours of a rainy afternoon by wandering through a bookstore.
My love affair with reading goes back to my early childhood. My mom read to me constantly. A favorite of mine back then was, “This is a bear. This is a chair. The bear sits on the chair.” She read it so frequently that one evening before bed time, she found me propped up in bed reading the words aloud. Too bad my book was upside down, and I was on the wrong page but my recitation was spot on. I’ve always been a reader. Usually reading multiple books at once on varying subjects. My first job upon moving to LA for school was at Barnes & Noble. It still breaks my heart that it was turned into a CVS.
My book collection is vast and contains a bit of everything. Historical biographies, graphic novels, classic literature, thrilling mysteries, poetry and so much more. At first I abhorred the idea of a kindle. How could you give up the tactile love of turning pages. But I soon realized that the kindle was the cure for my mass market paperback obsession. If it’s a fluff book I know I will love reading once and then shove on a shelf to be forgotten about, I purchase it on my kindle. If it’s a beloved classic or special edition I buy it in hardback for my library. I dream of one day having a huge library with big leather chairs and ladders on wheels. Right now I have so many books that each room in my house has it’s own set of shelves dedicated to a genre. Someday they will all live together.
I’ve slowly started replacing my worn out paperbacks (especially those with notes scribbled in the margins from my school days) with hardback editions. Used bookstores are the best places to find them. I adore used books. It’s a real thrill to crack open a used book, and see a copyright from years passed. Or a special illustrated edition, no longer in print. I even like seeing the inscriptions of whom the book originally belonged to. It gives the story it’s own story, it’s own history. When my Grandmother passed she left me her amazing collection of poetry books. All hardbacks curated over her lifetime from various used book stores. Many are over 100 years old. I cherish every tome.
The Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood is my favorite used bookstore. It contains approximately 125,000 used books at any given time. When the rain started falling I knew it was the perfect opportunity to grab the stack of books I’ve set aside for trade in and add something special and new to my collection. I’ve been a loyal visitor for many years. There is so much to see. Shelf after shelf, after row after row of books. They specialize in fiction and literature but also have many selections on history, art, poetry, science and basically anything you want to read. Located just east of the NoHo Arts district, they have a convenient parking lot and well educated staff. They are always happy to help you. When I have books I no longer want to read again, or books that were donated to me, I take them to The Iliad. They have a wonderful trade-in program. You can get cash if you prefer, but you always get more money in store credit. Besides what’s better than using old books to buy new, old books? They are selective about which titles they will accept. You can read more about their trade-in policy on their website. So, you can either take the rest home or donate them to the FREE BOOKS bin at the front of the store. Which I do.
The kid in me always finds excuses to climb the tall ladders and reach for some hidden delight at the top of the huge bookcases. On this latest climbing adventure I found an illustrated special edition of Ken Kesey’s, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The gorgeous black and gold bound hardback was in pristine condition and also $50. So I passed. I did find a first edition of “Interview with the Vampire” by Anne Rice. Hard to believe that book was first published in 1976. The dust jacket was missing but the book was in great condition and for $20, totally worth it. Most of my Anne Rice books are well worn mass market paperbacks, so I’m slowly trying to upgrade my collection. The other book I purchased was a 1973 Heritage Press edition of “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Complete with the original pamphlet issued to Heritage Club members. It was one of those books we were required to read in high school and I filled my margins with scribbly notes on romance, guilt, religion, and fanaticism. It was time to replace this classic. Every time I visit I find something extraordinary. On a previous trip I found a 1940 Heritage Press reprint of Huckleberry Finn with illustrations by Norman Rockwell. Last year on a trip around my birthday I found a collection of my favorite short stories by Franz Kafka published in 1952 with the name Meredith (my name) written on the inside cover in red ink. It was a startling find to say the least, but obviously this book was meant for me.
I highly recommend getting lost in The Iliad Bookshop. They have so many wonderful books to choose from. Don’t forget to stop by the New Arrivals section on the way to the cashier, you just may snag something perfect before it even hits the shelves. That’s how I found my original uncut version of Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” If you find yourself with too many options, grab the stack of maybes and head to the small comfy lounge at the back of the store. Where you can sit and casually peruse your choices before making a final decision. My decision is usually, all of them.
For hours and store information visit their website: The Iliad Bookshop.