South LA

Where to read in South L.A.

The Trojan’s guide to local bookstores.

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With the upcoming Los Angeles Festival of Books, here are some local bookstores around South L.A. to check out for your bookworm needs.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

The Salt Eaters Bookshop was founded in 2020, but because of the pandemic, doors did not open until the end of 2021.

The name of the store was inspired by a book by Toni Cade Bambara, titled The Salt Eaters.

Rather than acting as just a general bookstore, Salt Eaters has a very specific focus.

“The Salt Eaters is an independent bookstore that prioritizes books, comics and zines by and about black women, girls, femmes and gender expansive people,” said Asha Grant, the owner of the bookstore.

Grant wants her bookstore to have that focus so people like her will have an easier time finding stories that they have to usually search for outside of their own curated spaces.

“And so it was important for me to push the stories that I feel aren’t always represented in the mass, all in one place,” Grant said.

Grant began a GoFundme in 2020 to cover the startup costs for the store. She was joined by her neighbors and community members in building the shop.

“Every part of this store has been touched by someone in the community,” Grant said.

The store is located at 302 East Queen Street in Inglewood and is open Wednesday to Friday from 1-6 p.m. and Saturday 12-5 p.m.

Word of Life Christian Books

The oldest black-owned bookstore in Southern California, Word of Life was founded in 1961 by Joe and Evelyn Curtiss and is now managed and co-owned by their son, Jon.

“The way things started, my dad was a minister. He loved books. He got involved in the book club. And then he realized he had these books. His mom said, ‘Let’s start a bookstore.’ And so they started a bookstore,” Curtiss said.

They also have a strong focus — mainly selling Christian books, curriculum and attire.

“That was the demographic,” Curtiss said. “And so we began to go to national conventions and have book signings and just expand in the market of Christian retailing.”

The shop is located in the heart of South L.A., and the community is close to their soul.

“We bring in unique gifts,” Curtiss said. “We bring in books from different topics dealing with African-American families or just different health books, just meeting the needs of the community and listening to the community and finding what people need. And so people come in to just experience the walking environment and people come in to just connect.”

Word of Life Christian Books is located at 6321 West Blvd and is open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All Power Books

Volunteer-run, All Power Books opened in June 2021 after the co-founders met the year before.

“We all met protesting in 2020 and saw a really big need for a leftist space for other organizations and mutual aid groups to be able to use as either a meeting space, or a space for events, or just a community space,” co-founder Cat Quach said.

All Power is more than a bookstore. They consider themselves a “third space,” a meeting place for the community that’s separate from both home and work.

“They are pretty much all just political bigs,” Quach said. “A lot of political theory. A lot about anti-imperialism, anti-racism, anti-colonialism, things like that.”

But it is their status as a political hub that makes them so unique.

“I think that we are very outspoken in our politics and we don’t really shy away from that. And I don’t really know that there’s other really political stores,” Quach said. “I guess it would set us apart, we’re mostly focused on political education.”

All Power Books is located at 4874 W Adams Blvd. 2-7 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 12-7 p.m. on Saturdays.