My Adventure to Skylight Books: Exploring LA

 

Yesterday, I took myself on a bit of an adventure. I took myself on a date, per se. From the second I set foot in LA, my life has been pure chaos. From trying to settle my first apartment to adjusting to long days spent walking around campus to the actual workload that comes with university, I realized two things. 1) I was exhausted, constantly anxious, and feeling extremely stuck, and 2) I'd hardly seen any of the city that I'd recently moved to. This weekend, I decided to remedy both issues by imposing a single day ban on all school related thoughts and heading to one of the places on the top of my To See list in LA- Skylight Books

While I was much more familiar with the other prominent LA bookstore (which I will visit at some point!), The Ripped Bodice, because of the YA world's close proximity to romance, I was immediately intrigued by the tree growing up in the middle of Skylight. I'd first seen it featured in Claudia Sulewski's vlogs. Located on a street with cute cafes and tons of vintage stores, I decided I could make a day of getting to know this bookstore and a bit of the Los Feliz neighborhood it's situated in. 

I put on a cute outfit and called an Uber to venture out on my own for the first time. Stepping inside Skylight, it immediately felt homey and airy at the same time. There was something about it that just felt particularly inviting and comforting. 

The store itself isn't particularly large, and the arts books are even located in a separate building next-door, but they make an impact with the small space they do have. Besides books, they have an adorable collection of sarcastically cute cards, pins, and stickers which I always have a hard time resisting. 

And, as promised in the videos I'd seen, there was a giant tree sprouting up from the middle of the store, creating an earthy canopy overhead. As strange as it seems, there's something that just feels right about having a tree presiding over a bookstore. Right by the tree was a shelf of astrology and tarot books that I spent a minute thumbing through. It held an interesting assortment of thoughtfully chosen books. The selection felt carefully and attentively chosen. Behind those shelves was the children's section. There weren't many YA books, but I did appreciate the shelf talker pointing out Mary H.K. Choi's new book, Yolk. It reminded me of the shelf talker I left behind at the bookstore I used to work at back home. 

It was an interesting experience to go into a bookstore simply as a customer again after so longer. Having seen how it all works and developed my own mixed feelings about the job, I wondered if I'd ever get to enjoy bookstores in the same pure, blissful way I did before, and I was happy to realize that I did find bliss again among the stacks. It was funny, though, to recognize the extra overstock shelves, stocking cart, and the exposed gears of how bookshops work that I would've never noticed in the same way before. I paid extra attention to the staff picks suggestions, thankful for the ideas since I've been so utterly lost in my book finding pursuits lately. 

Since the fiction section was by far the largest, I found myself wandering through those shelves. They were incredibly well stocked with new releases and favorites I'd been hearing about for years and meaning to pick up. The modern classics, I guess, shelved away from a spinner of well placed Penguin classics. I'd really been missing the chance to run my fingers along the book spines and feel inspired by covers and fonts and random suggestions for what to read next. It reminded me of the summer I spent practically living at the library, letting the towering shelves dictate my next read. I've struggled with not being able to physically survey all my options, and I still haven't managed to find a great online substitute for browsing. 

Though I was definitely tempted to grab a copy of Malibu Rising, I restricted myself to paperbacks only for the sake of my poor back carrying books with me to and from school. I eventually settled on a copy of My Year of Rest and Relaxation. I'd always been intrigued by the cover when I worked at the store, and it had been recommended to me tons of times. Since I've been number 1,000 in line at the virtual library for a copy forever, I decided to take it home as a souvenir. The bookseller at the counter even mentioned how good it was as I checked out. I also got one of the aforementioned perfectly sarcastic pins that reads "Everything is fine" over the arc of a rainbow. 

After a little vintage browsing up and down the street, I remembered that I'd forgotten to pop over to the arts annex. This second branch of the store is across an alley and houses the pick ups for online orders which tower high in one corner wrapped in paper and all the arts books. There's manga, comics, and drawing books in one corner along with mildliners, pens, and other bobbles I find hard to resist. Around the perimeter, there are large photography books, a wall of specialty arts magazines like Wonderland, which I'd never seen sold in person before, and books focused on film and music. I was a bit awestruck by the expansive collection of music books, and I instantly wanted them all. I ended up leaving with The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic (the updated version) to further my personal deep dive into music criticism (and also met my paperback requirement). The arts annex had its own distinct feeling and struck a wonderful balance between serene and electric.

Speaking of my new obsession with paperbacks, when I pulled out one of the Skylight bookmarks this morning, I noticed that they offer a book subscription entirely based around paperbacks called the Imaginary Friends Book Club where they send you a brand new paperback each month. I've definitely made a mental note to look into that further in the future. 

My adventure to Skylight proved to be a much needed mental vacation from my normal life, much like reading is on a daily basis. If you live in LA and you've never been to Skylight, you need to get over there immediately! And if you ever come here on vacation, it's definitely worth adding to your list of attractions or trying out the subscriptions they offer. I love finding new indie bookstores that I feel excited about supporting, and Skylight has definitely earned a position among my favorite spots in LA as I've struggled to figure out where I belong here. 


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