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Taken for Granted: Throw the books at me

July 14, 2010|Pat Grant

In his bestselling book of the same name, Nicholas Basbanes describes the malady as "A Gentle Madness." And I have a bad case of it.

A floor-to-ceiling library, cabinets in the garage stuffed to the gills, numerous bookcases and random stacks in several rooms of our house bear witness to my passion for books. It's an addiction supported by frequent visits to used bookstores, thrift stores and I reluctantly admit the big chain bookstores, which in conjunction with the Kindle, iPad and Nook have set out to destroy one of the joys of my life: used bookstores.

Perhaps it is an overstatement, but to my mind a good used bookstore is a little haven that offers a unique sampling of the knowledge and creativity of the ages. Within its walls are the basic ingredients for a liberal education far superior to what most universities offer. It is also the ultimate "green" activity, recycling a product that can be used again and again, and that, with a little care, will last and never be "used up." A great, old book can provide insight into an age gone by and offers the gift of continuity from one generation to another.

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So need I say it, I'm a happy camper because Montrose now has that seeming contradiction in terms: a new, used bookstore. Ocean View Books Etc. is on Ocean View, just off Honolulu, about a half-block south of the Coffee Bean. Previously in a remote nook of a La Cañada mall, the new store offers a more spacious setting and a substantially expanded selection of books for virtually every taste.

One of the major attributes of a good used bookstore is a staff that is thoroughly acquainted with literature and displays a genuine love of books. Ocean View Books offers just that, in contrast to the many well-meaning clerks at the large, impersonal chain bookstores, whose knowledge is limited to the graphic novel (we used to call them comic books when we were kids) and the astrology sections.

The store readily lends itself to browsing for a gem or two; be it an old history book, mystery or a 75-year-old illustrated copy of a classic. Well organized by topic and reasonably priced, the store offers the additional convenience of not having to fight the downtown traffic.

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