Friday, August 29, 2014

The Last Bookstore: (Happy Sigh) Diva in Book Heaven

When one is living or visiting Los Angeles, do not miss visiting this visually stunning shop called The Last Bookstore. It is a sight to remember as well as a great hideout for any book-lover!

The Last Bookstore is housed in what was used to be the Citizens National Bank, in a 100-year-old building at historic Spring Street, Downtown LA. The space is large - about 10,000 square foot of book heaven!

Upon entering the main wooden doors, Red Dot Diva felt that immediate familiar wave of swhoosh! when something wonderful and magikal is about to happen.

The ground floor of the bookstore opened up into a large airy hall with a very tall ceiling where an art installation consisting of streams of books was displayed.

Large hanging installation of lots and lots of books!

Just a few steps from the entrance was a cash counter built with stacks and stacks of books! How ingenious!

Pay for your books here!

Scattered around the bookshelves on the ground level were cozy sofas and armchairs, simulating the feel of a giant living room which invites readers to just curl themselves up with a book, or have a lively discussion with friends.


There was even a corner called "Secret Headquarters - Dungeon Dungeon" where graphic novels were displayed and sold. This was actually a mini shop within a shop set up by comic retailer Secret Headquarters. It was a nice little niche with well-catalogued graphic novels. Red Dot Diva just wished it was little more mysteriously located, like really dungeon-y.

Now, the ground level was nothing compared to what was discovered one floor up. Another different kind of world appears when one steps onto the first floor landing. For starters, a Harry Potter-like art installation greets every visitor with a vision of hyper-energetic books poised to take flight with a flying typewriter.

Installation by Jena Priebe and David Lovejoy

Looking down from the railing, Red Dot Diva had a better "birds-eye" perspective of the cavernous ground floor hall.


From there, and immediately to one's right was.... dun dun dun..... "The Labyrinth". It is most aptly named for within the large room was a dizzying maze of bookshelves! Thankfully, Red Dot Diva did not spot a Minotaur while wandering through the rows and rows of second-hand books. But there were other kinds of mystical sightings in "The Labyrinth". Some were on top of tall shelves....



.... and some were in very small nooks and crannies between the wooden bookshelves, like this one!

Sticks, twine and travel pics between bookshelves
The familiar musty smell of books wafts through the walkways, bringing Red Dot Diva back to lovely childhood memories where she spent half her time after school and on weekends at the old National Library. (Sadly, that red bricked building is now gone.)

Halfway within "The Labyrinth" is a very special room. Like a time portal ready to take readers to another universe, there is an old bank vault. Instead of gold and money, there was now a different kind of treasure inside - More BOOKS!


Step into the Book Vault!
These were mainly of the Scifi and Fantasy/ Horror genre, ranging from Anne Rice to Dean Koontz, sitting side by side with other dystopian styled art installations of old motherboards, transistors, wires and lightbulbs.


Near the Vault, and on the left and right were two Middle-Earthy arrangement of books. There is the what Red Dot Diva calls the Tunnel of Hobbiton:




And the other is Bilbo's Porthole, or that is what Diva has named it anyway :)


As Red Dot Diva cruises along the bookshelves, she could feel as if there was a living, breathing Book Beast seeping within the dusty pages.

Manuscripts curl and doodles peek out as they attempt to escape from the book binds....


... and in the Mystery/ Thriller section are accompanying hanging dart targets and magnifying glasses as well as an odd lighting sculpture or two!
 

Before one leaves "The Labyrinth", remember to hunt down the Rainbow Bookshelves, and take in the visual genius of the colour-coded books. That is certainly one way to categorize one's book collection!

Click pic above for larger version

The Last Bookstore is indeed an all-encompassing sensory experience made perfect for the bookworm. When Red Dot Diva headed reluctantly down the stairs to exit this fantasy realm, and turned her head back for a final glance, an odd-looking book creature offers a kind-of whimsical farewell from above the stairwell.   



If The Last Bookstore was indeed the last bookstore on earth, Red Dot Diva the Nerdy Bookworm would die very very happily there!


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