A Different Light Bookstore (8853 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-854-6601) is indisputably the number-one gay-and-lesbian bookstore in WeHo. From travel to foreign language, plays and screenplays to cooking, queer theory to fitness, 95 percent of its books are written by or for, or are mindful of, the gay community. It also has a formidable magazine stand and a section devoted to coming-out literature.
Arundel Books (8380 Beverly Blvd.; 323-852-9852) specializes in books on fine art, architecture, decorative arts and photography. Ideal for both the seeker of coffee-table amusement and the no-nonsense grad student, it also has a small stock of lithographs and monographs, as well as signed editions and special collections.
The Audubon Society (7377 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-876-0202) is a birder’s book heaven. Every tome on every aspect of bird watching is found here — what to bring to bird-watch, where to go to see certain types of birds, how to bird-watch. It is a comprehensive and fastidious collection. The society also houses a general collection of nature books.
The Bodhi Tree Bookstore (8585 Melrose Ave.; 310-659-1733) has been providing the WeHo community with spiritual inspiration and guidance since 1970, the beginning of L.A.’s New Age renaissance. Charming and inviting, its shelves are committed to metaphysics and religion, while the store itself hosts readings and talks by spiritual leaders from around the world. Sip tea, browse, or meditate in the back yard, beneath the bodhi tree.
Book Soup (8818 W. Sunset Blvd.; 310-659-3110) is the most comprehensive book shop in West Hollywood, and one of the biggest independents in L.A. In addition to large and eclectic fiction and nonfiction sections, it houses innumerable books on film, biography, art, architecture, history, gay literature, and travel, to name a few. Grab some gazpacho at the café as you browse through the Annex (Soup’s adjacent sale-price bookstore) or the remarkably international newsstand.
Circus of Books (8230 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-656-6533) is a carnival of adult paraphernalia (toys, novelty items, gifts), books and magazines, most of which cater to the gay community. It stocks a broad range of gay and lesbian literature, and its magazine collection — from gay and lesbian pornography to fetish, bondage and transsexual publications — is truly extraordinary.
The Cook’s Library (8373 W. Third St.; 323-655-3141) is a culinary wet dream, with titles on every genre of cooking known to humankind, conscious or subconscious. Its cluster of volumes on wine and wine tasting is stunning.
William Dailey Rare Books (8216 Melrose Ave.; 323-658-8515) is a haughty little bookstore that specializes in first and rare editions, with depth in the literature of the 18th and 19th centuries. Its earliest volume purports to have been printed only 20 years after the Gutenberg, circa 1478. A shop for collectors of fine bindings, not collectors of fine phrasings.
Elliot Katt — Books on the Performing Arts (8568 Melrose Ave.; 310-652-5178) has been selling books on the history, technique and glitz of the performing arts in America for over 20 years. Boasting the world’s largest collection of out-of-print works on cinema, theater, music, dance, costume, movement and mime, Katt’s quaint corner store is a true landmark.
Heritage Book Shop & Bindery (8540 Melrose Ave.; 310-659-5738) is the largest rare/collector’s bookstore in the country, quite possibly the world. With an exceptional collection of first and rare editions that spans the centuries since the invention of the press, it also restores and binds old books.
Hustler Hollywood (8920 Sunset Blvd.; 310-860-9009) is an emporium of pornographic and erotic merchandise, gay and straight alike, with a small but savory library dealing primarily with (I know, shocking) sex. The collection ranges from social studies of pornography to the history of homosexuality. Stop in sometime for a porn-star autographing, or simply to sample the scholarly, albeit sleazy, dynamic.
Interbook (7513 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-882-6160) houses a fine collection of classic and contemporary Russian-language books. Settle into a cozy armchair and refresh your Slavic vocabulary with some Dostoyevsky or Sorokin.
Mysterious Bookshop (8763 Beverly Blvd.; 310-659-2959) is a treasure chest of crime and mystery fiction and nonfiction from all eras. Not only is its collection of new literature staggering, but it also boasts many rare, early, out-of-print and signed volumes.
Mystery Pier Books (8826 Sunset Blvd.; 310-657-5557) crouches timidly beneath the sprawl of Book Soup on Sunset, but is the only store in WeHo devoted solely to first editions of predominantly 20th-century literature. This cozy scholar’s hideaway has your ever-coveted Ulysses first edition, or your intimately inscribed Catch-22; even a few first-edition Dickenses grace the shelves, not to mention a plethora of mystery and crime novels.
Traveler’s Bookcase (8375 W. Third St.; 323-655-0575) proudly stocks over 11,000 books on travel in all parts of the world, from the obscure to the obvious. In addition to guides and informative texts, it carries maps and a slew of travel accessories such as air pillows and currency converters. Peruse its 300 titles on France alone.
Unicorn Bookstore (8940 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-652-6253) specializes in gay and lesbian erotica, with volumes on fetishism and bondage, a sizable stash of toys, instruments and videos, and many rare and obscure porn magazines.