Last weekend I went down to Southern California to visit my friends. On the way to Palm Springs I spent a day in Los Angeles. Even on a tight schedule—between a hike up to the Hollywood sign, happy hour in West Hollywood, and Korean BBQ in Koreatown, I managed to pay Book Soup a visit.
In the fold of LA’s gay neighborhood, on Sunset Boulevard, Book Soup is probably the best bookstore on the west coast. Upon entry, you’re greeted by tall, teetering stacks and mazes of shelves crammed with titles that attracted book lovers, entertainment and tourist industry clientele. The vertiginous shelves remind me of those from City Lights Bookshop in San Francisco but this bookstore is free of all those tourists (who are not readers) who just come into City Lights to check off their list. All the new hardback fiction are grouped together in one section. The mystery and paperback fiction are on opposite sides of an aisle. I could literally spend all day browsing just this area alone. I like their staff recommendation cards which come in handy when I am pressed for time.
Vroman’s in Pasadena now owns Book Soup but thank God Vroman’s preserves Book Soup’s chic, stylish, and creative setup around the store. The store was founded in 1975 by Glenn Goldman. Goldman and David Mackler (both in graduate school at UCLA at the time) raised $50,000 and, after doing extensive research on where to locate their store, opened Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard. The rationale for the location, as Goldman explained, was that there “had been a period of upheaval here in the ’60s—of thought and ideas—and I felt that the people who lived in the neighborhood would and could really support a bookstore.” Goldman announced he was selling Book Soup on just before he died of pancreatic cancer in Jan 2009. Vroman’s Bookstore and Book Soup signed an agreement October 9, 2009, to purchase Book Soup.