Janet Jarvits' bookstore is more like a casual museum than an ordinary bookstore: a dusty, cluttered, literally voluminous space, vertically loaded with rows and rows of cookbooks, all of them used, many of them published long before most of us picked up our first whisk. It is the kind of store where you will want to spend hours, perhaps sitting on the floor, a cat in your lap, the stack of future purchases growing incrementally by your side.

Jarvitz – a triathlete, a vegetarian and an Occidental alum who started collecting books shortly after she learned how to read – has more than 30,000 titles, which she finds at thrift stores, from private clients, or at estate sales, where she might buy one book or 1,000. She's had books that date back to the 1820s, signed first editions of Julia Child's cookbooks (Child, a native of Pasadena, had her first book signing at Vroman's), and “an awful lot of Betty Crockers.” Jarvits' bookstore may have only been open since 2001 (when it relocated from Burbank), but it looks like it's been there for half a century. As a proper bookstore should.

Cook Books: 1388 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 296-1638.

Look for more “Best of L.A.” pieces in our annual Best of L.A. issue, coming Oct. 7th.

LA Weekly