Bookstore Tour–South Orange County, California

Along with finding the closest grocery store and ATM, moving to a new area also means finding all the bookstores. Shortly after my move to Orange County, I started making a list of bookstores to visit. I narrowed the list down to three and planned a small bookstore tour on a recent afternoon. Armed with a Joni Mitchell CD and an iced latte, I hit the road for San Clemente, and my first stop, Village Book Exchange.

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In the same way that the scent of warm bread can coax one into a bakery, the smell of old books drifting out to the sidewalk is something no reader can resist. Village Book Exchange offers both new and used books, and they even have a store cat to watch over all of it. Wander around shelves well stocked with a good selection of books, and then get comfy in one of the reading chairs scattered throughout the store.  This store is in a great location that is perfect for grabbing a book and heading to the nearby beach for a few hours of reading by the water. The staff are friendly too and ready to offer a recommendation. I ended up buying a nicely used copy of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. It’s a book that’s been on my to-read list for a long time.

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I then drove north along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to Laguna Beach Books. Even though this is a small store, they have a good selection of new books, notebooks and gifts for your favorite reader. With a location right on PCH and a quick walk to the ocean, it’s no surprise that the staff are happy and helpful. I bought Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. The bookseller told me she really enjoyed the book.

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I finished up my bookstore tour with a stop at The Book Corral in Laguna Hills. This place has great deals on used books. I walked out with a hardback copy of Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual for only $5. As someone who doesn’t own an ereader, I loved their “Books Without Batteries” sign in the window. I love used books because their worn covers and dog eared pages tell a story about their previous owner, and this store has plenty of good books like this.

In a time when small, independent bookstores are closing due to competition with online retailers and big box stores, it is nice to find some that are still surviving. Ordering online will never replace the experience of browsing the shelves and letting a book find you. These are not the only three bookstores in the Orange County area, and I plan to visit others in the near future. Feel free to leave recommendations of your favorite bookstores in the comments.

Click on book titles in this post to find these books at Laguna Beach Books, or visit your favorite bookstore or library.

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