A&M is a family-run, friendly, poor man’s reading paradise featuring a vast selection of cheap used paperbacks for voracious readers of thrillers, mysteries, adventures and romance novels. Bring a friend, get a free book. Trade in books you bought last month, get credit on your next bunch. 19801 Vanowen St., Canoga Park, (818) 716-6259.—Jill StewartTucked behind the Nuart movie theater in West L.A. sits a low, shabby building — a shack, for all practical purposes — badly in need of a paint job and stacked to the gills with dog-eared books of all stripes. Alias is especially notable for its won­derfully idiosyncratic and unapologetically highbrow (but modestly priced) collection of fiction. Owner Brian Paeper, who is Dutch and lurks in a back office, emerges to shoot the literary breeze with avid readers or writers or both. He buys and sells, but be warned — he’s a man of taste. 1650 Sawtelle Blvd., W.L.A., (310) 473-4442.—Ella TaylorA trading center for CDs, vinyl, tapes and collectibles, Counterpoint features an eclectic mix of used hardcovers and paperbacks on topics ranging from the arts to the sciences. Compensating for its sometimes slipshod organization is the sense of discovery you get from browsing through the largest vinyl LP collection I’ve seen. What more can you say about a store in which you can find the soundtrack from What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? Except this: It’s best to drop in with no particular aim in mind. 5911 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, (323) 957-7965.—Steven Leigh Morris If you have your heart set on a hardcover edition of a certain Julio Cortázar and can settle for nothing less, the Daily Planet will not prove worth the parking drama. But if you have some vague sense that you want some poetry, any poetry — especially about love, food or dogs — the tiny card and candle store’s pre-culled collection might just be what you need. Beat authors, animal paeans and love poetry abound on its eccentric little shelves. Shop without prejudice. 5931 Franklin Ave., L.A., (323) 957-0061. —Judith LewisBesides rare editions, this tiny and cozy longtime shop specializes in military, true-crime and show-biz books as well as first-edition mysteries, celebrity autographs and biographies. And it’s conveniently located next to Pickwick Pub, a popular Brit bar with amazing fish and chips. 21014 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 888-9065.—Jill StewartThree years ago Venice finally got its own swanky new independent bookshop — art-heavy with rare editions, and the largest collection of out-of-print surfing titles around. Now comes Equator Vinyl, which will take up one third of the bookshop with more than 1,500 classic, collectible, rare and forgotten records in genres from blues and jazz to hip-hop and R&B. Take that, Santa Monica. 1103 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 399-5544.—Linda ImmediatoAlmost 20 years old, and having moved a year ago from its hideaway next to Odyssey Video, the Iliad doubles as a cat-rescue station and features old paperbacks with an aesthetic tilt toward the likes of Burroughs, Bukowski and Kerouac. The theater and film sections are more comprehensive than those in any bookstore outside of Samuel French, and larger than what you’d find in most public libraries, making this a must-drop-in for any thespian. 5400 Cahuenga Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 509-2665. —Steven Leigh MorrisYes, people who live east of Alvarado Street deserve a good bookstore, the kind that has new titles and frequent author signings. Finally they have one, thanks to the opening last year of Metropolis, a modest-sized shop that has a good collection of books on Los Angeles and occasional displays on L.A. authors — including the one currently in the window on John Fante. Metropolis is located in the Old Bank District a few paces from Blossom restaurant, Pete’s Cafe and Old Bank DVD, a walkable stretch of big-city pleasures. 440 S. Main St., downtown, (213) 612-0174. —David ZahniserIt’s probably the last place you’d expect to find a gem of a bookshop — among the sideshow circus acts and tourist trappings of the Venice Boardwalk — but Small World is a great escape from the general freak-show vibe. The tiny shop is jam-packed with fiction, nonfiction, children’s classics, sci-fi and poetry, not to mention a helpful staff and thorough displays that make searching so easy. And you’re right near a perfect reading spot — the beach. 1407 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, (310) 399-2360.—Linda ImmediatoFounded by celebrated author Luis J. Rodriguez and his wife, Trini, at a strip mall in Sylmar in 2001, Tia Chucha’s became an instant community center. Told earlier this year that they had to move out to make room for a laundry, the Rodriguezes found a temporary second home not far from their original location. The bookstore specializes in Chicano literature, nonfiction and children’s books. Plans are now in the works for a July concert to raise funding for a permanent space, but in the meantime, the smaller Tia Chucha’s is staying faithful to the bookstore’s spirit. Trini Rodriguez: “We still offer our free workshops, and open mike on Fridays, noches bohemias on Thursdays. People keep calling and swinging by.” 10258 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace, (818) 896-1479. —Daniel Hernandez

LA Weekly