The Last Bookstore: Downtown L.A.

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I have not posted in quite awhile due to work and health issues, but I also just recently got back from an AMAZING trip to California!

We went to visit some friends (my friends since middle school) and we cram-packed everything we could into one week. They live about an hour from downtown L.A. so one of our stops was to The Last Bookstore. Now, I’m a born-and-bred Barnes and Noble freak myself but when it comes down to it, B&N can get boring, predictable, and expensive. And Half-Price Books is always a hit-or-miss on finding what you want. But this place, was a book-lover’s dream come true (and yes, we went to Disneyland 3 times!!)

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This bookstore gets it’s name from the idea that books, unfortunately, are fading out and iPads, e-readers, and Amazon are taking over the book industry. So, it is mainly a used bookstore, but they also sell new books. The prices are great!

I went in just mouth-agape staring from floor to ceiling at the artsy decor and angled rows of books. I walked down a couple of aisles aimlessly, trying to think of what books were on my Goodreads list. My friend and my husband both told me I had to buy something. I hit the YA section, and remembered I had been looking for the Oz books.

Frank L. Baum wrote several books before and after The Wizard of Oz, and I had read one about the Tinman when I was younger and it totally freaked me out. The tinman basically became made of tin because every time he missed a log and hacked off a body part, it was replaced with tin–even his head. Creepy for a 10 year old, right?

I had already purchased one of those enormous books from B&N back home that is the first 5 books in the Oz collection, but I needed to see if they had more. The organization of the store is a little sketchy, so I asked one of the salesmen if he knew where they were. Took him 30 seconds to find them. There they were. About 6 of them were on the shelf and I bought 4. I could NEVER find them at Half-Price Books, and they were only 5 bucks a pop, so I had a STEAL!

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The store is arranged kind of haphazardly but still has a definite pattern. This picture was taken from the 2nd floor looking down at the 1st floor. The bottom left corner is where the stage is located, probably for local bands. The shelves have small signs dividing the genres, but it was still kind of hard to distinguish what section you’re in.

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This is my husband and I inside this little room that used to be a vault (I believe the building used to be an old bank). My friend was trying to get Zach to smile so she said “Andrew Luck is naked!” It obviously worked 🙂iPhone 7_29_15 158

This picture is from the “Rare Books Collection”. Most of them were just books to me because I don’t know what is “rare” and what’s not. Some books were locked up in glass cases. Some where on shelves. But you had to pay for those books before you left the room. I found a ‘making of Star Wars‘ book I liked but it was $35. I like Star Wars, but not that much.

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This display reminded me of Harry Potter for some reason. I thought it was a good “introduction” to the second floor. Upstairs, the books are a lot less organized but still cool to look through. There is a small, overpriced knit shop, an art gallery, and the Labyrinth, which is a collection of used books all for $1. Most of those books are ones they are trying to get rid of, (Windows 99 manuals, Al Gore global warming, Shakespeare Cliff Notes).

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This was a piece of art in the hallway upstairs. There were several images of hearts, but this on stood out to me. As if California is a part of the artist’s very soul.

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This was a “book tunnel” upstairs. Everyone must take an obligatory tourist photo.

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I hope you all enjoyed this post, and keep an eye out for more in the near future! PS) If you’re ever in L.A., check this place out.

Tuesday’s with Morrie

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 This book has been a classic for many years. I myself had never heard of it until I was in college. I put it on my “book bucket list” and decided to ask for it for Christmas. Now, 6 months later, I’ve finally read it.

Tuesdays was a pretty quick read and an easy one at that. I really didn’t know what to expect going into it, but here’s a quick summary:

“An old man” befriends and mentors a “young man” aka Mitch Albom in college when he takes Morrie Schwartz’s  class. Morrie is diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). (Yes the same disease that Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with, which you can read about in one of my previous posts here.) So anyway, Morrie goes into teaching this class with a death sentence, about which he is very blunt and real. He starts having special Tuesday meetings with Mitch in his office. These meetings are mostly about life lessons, things Mitch should know about life after college. The meetings end when Mitch graduates.

Twenty years later, Mitch hears that Morrie is dying and decides to go visit him. Morrie welcomes him with frail arms. As Morrie’s physique deteriorates, his life lessons with Mitch increase. They talk about love, careers, wisdom, and the raw feelings Morrie has about his disease. As you guessed it, Morrie dies at the end, but not without leaving Mitch with a book full of wisdom to publish.

I thought this was a good book, one that definitely should be studied in classes (high school). Yes, it was very depressing, and made me feel sad while reading it. The dude is DYING. The whole book is about him passing his wisdom onto his student. Mitch himself seems to have a pretty obligatory life. He’s got a great career as a sports journalist, he has a beautiful wife, he’s got his health, but he’s drifting through life with little purpose. I think Morrie sort of gives him purpose. Every Tuesday, he drives/flies to meet with Morrie, bring him food he can no longer chew, and sit with him, helping him use the bathroom, rubbing his sore muscles, holding him while he cries unabashedly. That right there builds character. Seeing a grown, dying man cry.

From a Christian’s perspective, this book also made me sad, because Morrie doesn’t seem to have anything to look forward to. Mitch describes Morrie as “agnostic” several times in the book. Their discussions are all about life and how to live it to the fullest. But they seldom mention religion or an afterlife. That’s why this book makes me sad, because Morrie could have been, not looking forward to death, but maybe not dreading it so much. Of course, I’ve never been dying myself, and we’re so attached to this world that we would be scared to leave it no matter what lies ahead after death.

I give this book a 3/5.

Whiplash

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To view the trailer, click here.

Whiplash is a story about perseverance, coaching, music, and stamina. It’s essentially a classic sports movie where the coach has to raise a player to his highest potential through any means possible; in this case, the teacher inflicts emotional abuse to produce the next Buddy Rich.

Miles Teller plays Andrew, a 19 year old prodigy drummer attending Schaffer Conservatory in New York. His goal is to get into a prestigious jazz band led by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher notices Teller and gives him a chance to sit 2nd chair drummer. Soon, he proves himself worthy to play core.

Fletcher torments Andrew constantly, to the point of mentally and sometimes physically abusing him. Andrew practices and practices, to where his hands are bleeding profusely. Andrew pushes on, until the band has a performance, and he has to play core drummer. However, this is the breaking point for Andrew. Fletcher threatens Andrew that if he does not retrieve his sticks in time for the performance, he will forfeit his chair, and possibly, his seat in the band. On the way back from the rental car place, Andrew gets into a nasty car accident. He is so out of it (possibly from a concussion) that he runs back to the music hall. Bleeding from his head and arms, he attempts to play, but fails, as he can barely hold the sticks. Fletcher tells Andrew he is done, but Andrew is so furious and distraught that he attacks Fletcher on stage.

Andrew meets with a lawyer per his worried dad’s request, and they eventually de-throne Fletcher from his jazz kingdom at Shaffer. Andrew wanders aimlessly, dismissed from the university and seemingly has no drive left. Fletcher and Andrew are reunited in a jazz club where Fletcher is performing. He invites Andrew to play at a festival concert he is conducting.

I won’t give the ending away, although I will say, it was very abrupt and VERY disappointing. The audience is left hanging, with no real conclusion. I know this is probably just director’s vision, but it’s still annoying. I will say, the cinematography was EXCELLENT. I loved the close-up shots and details of the drums, the blood on Andrew’s sticks, the sweat trickling down his head and face. It was all very raw, like you could feel the pain Andrew was feeling while he was playing.

I thought Miles Teller did a great job of performing in this film. I could tell he really had to practice hard for it, and probably was feeling all the same pain and torment that Andrew was feeling at times. J.K. Simmons really blew his part out of the water. He had my husband and I yelling at the TV, “WHAT A D*CK!” a few times! Simmons really had a way of digging deep to find his inner coach/douche-bag for this part. I believe he won an Academy Award for this picture.

Although I’m not personally a fan of jazz, any fan of concert music would enjoy this film. Actually, anyone a fan of a Rudy story would like this film.

I give this movie a 3/5, mostly because it was a great film, but not one I’d watch over and over again.

The Theory of Everything

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This movie was excellent. It wasn’t quite the tear-jerker I thought it would be, but still tugs at the heart-strings. The basic premise is about the great physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, played by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

The movie begins with Stephen finishing his doctorate at Cambridge University. He meets Jane and they become friends and then more than friends. Stephen’s crippling ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) has already begun to corrode his hand and legs muscles. He is given the deadly diagnosis and told he has a mere 2 years to live. Shutting himself off from everyone, Stephen goes into a depression and distances himself from Jane. She refuses to allow Stephen to push her away, and so, they get married.

Several years go by and 2 children are produced. Stephen has exceeded his age limit, but his body deteriorates even further. Jane meets a choir director at church named Jonathan. They become friends, and Jonathan helps take care of the children and Stephen; however, Jane and Jonathan begin to fall in love.

Jane and Stephen have one more child together, but everyone suspects Jonathan is the father. This leads Jonathan to cut Jane and his friendship off, for a little while. Soon, Jane is forced to make the decision to cut off his last mode of communication-his vocal cords. He is given a tracheotomy to save his life, and he has to learn how to communicate all over again.

Stephen becomes even more famous with his book A Brief History of Time, which he writes with the help of a computer that allows him to talk. He begins falling for his in-home nurse, and Jane and Stephen finally separate and divorce. The movie ends with the pair meeting the Queen of England.

Even though I don’t personally believe in science as the end-all be-all, I feel Stephen Hawking is a great man, and his story is very inspiring. I knew he was a famous scientist, and that he talked with a funny-sounding robot computer, but that was it. This movie tells a great story and many who suffer from or have dealt with people who suffer from ALS/Lou Gehrig’s can relate. This story also evokes great empathy from people like me who have never experienced such a crippling disease.

Question for Thought:

I was under the impression that during the scene in which Jonathan and Jane are camping with the children, Jane asks to come inside Jonathan’s tent so that they may have relations. Others I have talked to say that she did not cheat on Stephen and that it was not even implied. I was under the impression that they did, and after she found out that Stephen was in a coma, they decided it was best to cut their relationship off. Thoughts? Just something I was wondering.

Overall, I’d rate this movie a 4/5.

If you would like to view the trailer, click here.

Favorite Books

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If you need something new to read, just check out this list!