"Bookworms seeking local indie reads will feel at home at STORIES BOOKS & CAFÉ. Flip through Roy Choi’s L.A. Son in the cooking section, or plan a workout with Charles Fleming’s Secret Stairs. The store offers sales and trades, meaning the stacks are consistently well stocked with community favorites. Grab a book, some granola, and a cup of Bicycle coffee before hunkering down on the patio, where succulents and colorful murals create an easy ambience."
Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones star in "Celeste and Jesse Forever." (Sony Pictures Classics)
In the new romantic comedy "Celeste and Jesse Forever," Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg play a young Los Angeles couple who attempt to remain best friends as they go through a divorce.
Written by Jones and Will McCormack, the film, opening Friday, takes the pair through a cityscape that will seem very familiar to many professional, thirtysomething Angelenos: Up-and-coming marketer Celeste and unemployed artist Jesse traverse an L.A. of canyon hikes, frozen yogurt shops and funky bars.
Because of the independent production's storytelling aims and its $1-million budget, director Lee Toland Krieger shot the Sony Pictures Classics film mostly in and around Hollywood, Echo Park and Silver Lake, where locations and permits are cheaper and easier to procure than in West Hollywood or on the Westside.
And unlike many studio romantic comedies that place young strivers in luxe surroundings they could never afford, the settings in "Celeste and Jesse Forever" are meant to reflect the lifestyle of Generation Xers who are financially comfortable but not wealthy — people residing somewhere at the nexus of Prius and IKEA.
"We wanted to give it the feeling of the L.A. we all know," said producer Jennifer Todd. "And one that felt appropriate to where they are in their lives."
Here's a look at some of the key locations:
Stories Books and Cafe
1716 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
In one of the movie's many awkward moments, a separated Celeste and Jesse are browsing the stacks at this homey bookstore when they run into a woman Jesse recently dated.
A configuration that is shelved, tiered and stepped might spell claustrophobia in any other setting, but at Stories, the amassed collection of books is less unsightly and even less underwhelming. The combination of select new and used books panders to Echo Park’s bohemian literati, which is itself provided with the opportunity to consign their work onto the shelves. Stories indulges local storied souls and further cultivates an all-inclusive literary culture by opening its space to readings as well. What could possibly complete the package? Caffeine of course, and Stories is equipped with a coffee shop and charming reading/sipping patio area.
Stories Books & Cafe has it all: a terrific selection of new and used books, a cafe that features delicious and locally sourced baked goods and organic coffee, and a busy schedule of readings and events. 1716 West Sunset Boulevard, storiesla.com
Bookstore of the Week: Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park
January 20, 2011 | 3:56 pm
Stories Books and Cafe is located on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Echo Park. Right next door is the literary nonprofit 826LA, with its retail storefront Time Travel Mart. Nearby are shops selling vintage and designer clothes and records. And bars. And The Echo.
Co-owners Claudia Colodro and Liz Garo opened the store in November 2008, when the economy was at its lowest. They'd been planning and getting the space ready for so long, they saw little to do but go forward. "It was probably the worst time to open a business," Colodro says, "but it's only been up from there."
Although the cafe is in the rear of the shop, people take advantage of the space in front -- and the free Wi-Fi -- to come to Stories to work. Or at the very least, to sit with their laptops open.
The store's business is about half cafe, half books, Colodro says. Fiction is one of the genres popular with customers. "People love Bukowski, Fante -- that underworld life of the bohemian that is maybe no longer around," Colodro says. "Or maybe it is in Echo Park."
Colodro worked at Dutton's in North Hollywood from 1997 to 2003; inspired by that store's mix, Stories also sells both new and used books. Some of Stories’ infrastructure -- the shelves and coffee equipment -- came from Dutton’s Brentwood, which closed in 2008, not long before Stories opened.
Stories has a flavor that's particularly geared toward the tastes of the neighborhood: books about film, the arts, music, entertainment. It's the kind of place where you're equally likely to find a book on "Caddyshack" as one on Luis Bunuel -- and where both are equally likely to be snapped up.
The paintings high on the west wall are by co-owner Liz Garo's father. Garo is well known in the music world -- she's the booker for the Echo and Echoplex clubs and was Spaceland's booker before that. She has an undying enthusiasm for music and somehow has energy left over for Stories.
Colodro had a few surprises -- children's books do well in the store, but hardcovers are not as popular as she'd thought they might be. "When you're a new business owner, the first year is just crazy," she says. "The second year, you start to have a groove."
Despite abutting an alley, the back patio at Stories is pleasant for breakfast coffee or lunch from the cafe. It's where the store holds readings, too, except on the coldest winter days. From the store, a decorated hallway leads out to the patio.
The Stories event for the magazine Slake went exceedingly well. "It was amazing how many people came. I think they really filled a hole," Colodro says. "It just goes to show: People really want local literature." Slake's first issue continued to sell well in the months after the event, eventually becoming the store's top seller for 2010.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photos: Stories Books & Cafe. Credit: Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times
BUY • SELL • TRADE
1716 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026-3225
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