Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SideShow Books - A Little Bookstore With Big Style

The next time you catch a film at the Nuart Theater, be sure to make the time to stroll around the corner and pay a visit to SideShow Books.

If you blink, you might miss the tiny box of a building with its crisp green awning. But once you step inside you'll discover a book lover's paradise, a used bookstore full of mystery and surprises, an Aladdin's cave packed with treasures and curiosities (not to mention the world's smallest movie theater). Inch for inch it's the most comprehensive bookstore in town. The tiny space is packed with books: books stacked floor-to-ceiling, books laid wall-to-wall, books resting on benches and chairs, books arranged in neat piles on the floor, books scattered across counters, and books nestled neatly on shelves.

You'll be sure to find something you always wanted or didn't even realize you needed. The only problem is deciding where to look first. My advice is to dive right in. On closer inspection, you'll discover that the store is parceled into well-marked sections, making browsing easy. Categories include the cinema, the theater, biographies, collectible magazines, vintage comic books, children's books, entertainment and publishing ephemera, pulp fiction, trashy paperbacks, literature, mysteries, art, and science fiction. The whole place is chock-a-block with posters and kitschy art, antique cameras, old board games, dolls, toys, and incredible amounts of stuff, all artfully arranged with a kind of kooky logic and a quirky sense of style.

It's plain to see that a book lover runs this store. The owner sits like a sultan among his treasures, where he's happy just to chat or answer any questions you might have. He plays great music, too. The last time I stopped by the sweet, soulful voice of Gram Parsons was drifting from the stereo.

The big box bookstores are all packing up and moving out, leaving Westside book lovers with very few choices. The Westwood Borders shut their doors last year and Barnes and Noble in the Westside Pavilion will close at the end of this year. If you're looking for a cool place to hang out, just browse, or to pick up a unique or hard-to-find book, I suggest you head straight to SideShow Books. You can find them at 11323 Idaho Avenue in West LA.

And don't forget to check out the world's smallest movie theater tucked away back in the cinema section. It's a great place to catch a classic film, but you might have to bring your own tiny box of popcorn.