So, you’ve just finished Héctor Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries and you’d like to keep it, but your bookshelf simply refuses to accept any new neighbors. You have a new option: The Battery Books & Music store in South Pasadena. Though it is primarily a used book store, if you’ve bought a book new and read it, then they’ll consider it used and either buy it, or allow you to trade it for something else.
If you arrive on a Thursday evening you could stay and listen to some jazz or avant-garde music, maybe with co-owner Richard West in the lead. While listening, check out the art work atop the bookshelves lining the walls; David Lether’s paintings are prominently displayed, as are Andrea Russel’s. Local artists’ works are welcome and shown on consignment.
When describing what sort of store she wanted to create, co-owner Laurie Lai looked to the book The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg. It extols the cafès, coffee shops, bars, hair salons and bookstores that are “hangouts at the heart of a community.” Lai would like to emulate that notion. Responding to a request for clarification of their hours of operation, Lai said that they were flexible—depending on whether or not a customer came in and wanted to browse for a while, maybe chat a bit, and hang out.
The bookstore is small and cozy, like someone’s personal library—someone who can’t find enough hours in the day in which to consume all the books they’d like. Shelves are filled and piles of books await placement. Towards the back is an eclectic collection of vinyl records, the top album depicting “the last man alive” Charlton Heston in the Omega Man (we didn’t even know they made a recording of that). Display cases, shelf edges, and walls are intermittently decorated with seasonal creations by Lai and West’s two young children.
BB&M has a large inventory of books about the creative arts, history and the humanities; fiction and letters; and a large children’s section. It also has, and is increasing, a rare books collection. The owners welcome you to come browse and hang out—for as long as you want. And the Gold Line stop is in front, so you might not even have to drive there!
The Battery Books & Music
1005B Mission St., South Pasadena
Mon-Fri. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., though on Thursday jazz nights, it might stay open until 11 p.m., and some mornings, Laurie may come in as early as 7 a.m. “We’re pretty flexible,” she says.