The Iliad

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One of my favorite places to go shopping is … no, not Bloomingdales … not the mall … it’s used book stores. And a very good one in my part of town is The Iliad.

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The Iliad is located on the corner of Chandler and Cahuenga Blvd in North Hollywood. It has been in this location for about 8 years, but has been around for over 20 years. The collection at the Iliad is fairly robust and the organization and cleanliness of the store is superb. In addition, the book lovers who work there are very knowledgeable about their collection and helpful. I went to the Iliad last week to get some Brodart book covers for my cookbooks (plastic protection sheets like they use for library books) and on my way out I decided to just peek in the cookbook section for a minute or two. Ninety minutes later I was dragging myself out of the Iliad with almost 10 books in tow!

My daughter and I became interested in used bookstores while in the small town of Julian, CA on a weekend trip to Anza Borrego State Park. As we were wandering around, we came upon an intriguing used bookstore in an old cottage and experienced so much joy poking through the eclectic collection. My daughter discovered the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series here and became a collector.

From that point on (well over 10 years), we take advantage of walking into just about every used bookstore we come across. For us it’s like a treasure hunt, probably similar to how some people scour for antiques. Unfortunately, used bookstores are becoming fewer and far between as are bookstores in general. Sad but true. But some still exist if you are willing to look.

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In downtown Los Angeles, a uniquely decorated used bookstore in an old bank building is The Last Bookstore. A fairly new and large store with a growing collection, I found it to be interesting however not nearly as well organized or specialized as The Iliad. There is also Skylight Books in Los Feliz and several stores on Brand Blvd in Glendale. If you’re interested in cookbooks like myself, there is a used bookstore that specializes only in cookbooks – Janis Jarvit’s in Pasadena, CA. Her collection of cookbooks is enormous.

Another good resource for used books is your local library. Many branches hold used book sales at least monthly to raise funds for their foundations. We also donate our used books to libraries that we have become affiliated with.

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In addition to all of the reasons I’ve alluded to already, another benefit to buying used books is that they can be a great deal. Here’s one of the books I purchased on my most recent visit to The Iliad, “Ekiben, The Art of the Japanese Box Lunch.” After having recently visited Japan, I fell in love with this beautiful picture book of the artistically beautiful bento box lunches that are represented by region in the train stations throughout Japan. I received hours of joy viewing the beautiful pictures and reading about the regional food specialties. All for $5.95 – a steal!

I’ve purchased hard-to-find or out-of-print collections of books as gifts for family and friends. Books are my favorite gifts to give for all occasions. If you’re a book lover like me, I highly recommend you search for used book sales in your area. You will not be disappointed!

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