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BLOG: Have a Literary Day in Downtown LA

When John Fante wrote Ask the Dust, a Depression-era story about a young man moving to LA to become a writer, climbing in and out of his hotel window, spending his first writer’s paycheck on linen suits and LA candy, and falling in love with a local waitress, he composed both one of the greatest comedic novels of the 20th century and a foundation myth for every young writer in Hollywood. As it should be, the book is featured on the Los Angeles Central Library’s LA Stories book list, and there is no better way to spend a day reading and writing in LA than in the architectural masterpiece that is the central library building, where you can get your hands on Fante’s book and find plenty of space and beauty to inspire your imagination. The massive collection will encourage you to immerse yourself in any other writer or topic that might interest you, too, as far as the written word can take you.

Here, you can bask in a physical space made majestic for the act of reading, as well as go deeper into your curiosities, and find literary criticism, biographies, and the collected works of Fante, on the spot— all for free, and all just a short walk from the Downtown LA apartments for rent at 888 Hope.

The art-deco building was designed by Bertram Goodhue in the 1920s and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The Tom Bradley Wing, which was added in the 1980s, now houses most of the collection, saving interiors in the Goodhue building for exhibition space, where you can find displays of vintage movie posters and Los Angeles memorabilia, not to mention the artistic features of the building itself, like the main rotunda, and the coffered ceilings of the children’s reading room, a place so enchanted that adults would be hard-pressed to resist the pleasure of whiling away an afternoon reading there. Of course, in the indoor-outdoor spirit of the city, the library is surrounded by a garden that is the perfect place to take your book on a sunny afternoon. The Maguire Gardens are heavily influenced by Islamic design and feature rows of cypress trees and working water features. More than a nice place to read, the gardens are a kind of reader’s idyll.

Another reader’s paradise, and a DTLA favorite, is The Last Bookstore, a sprawling stalwart of a brick-and-mortar bookstore whose massive collection of new and used books and records invites the type of browsing that is truly a form of reading, and one of the best ways to discover books and writers you haven’t encountered yet, and to stay up to date with who is writing, publishing, and reading right now in LA.

Once you’ve experienced the breadth of the library’s collection, picked out a stack of books for yourself at The Last Bookstore, and experienced the reader’s bliss of reading in the landscaped California light, you will also want to visit the Blue Ribbon Garden, a rooftop sanctuary built as part of the complex of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. The garden combines the tranquility of a blooming garden with opportunities at every angle to appreciate one of the most striking architectural works in the country.

Another LA-perfect reading spot happens to be Grand Hope Park, the very park overlooked by the DTLA rentals at 888 Hope. Another outdoor space designed to give the visitor a feeling of enclosure, as if sitting inside a “room” while enjoying all the beauty of the outdoors, this park will become an extension of your home, and possibly of your literary imagination.

Of course, whether you’re reading or writing, you’ll need to refuel. Thankfully, nearby Blue Bottle Coffee provides the choicest brews in a carefully designed environment that gives you just the right levels of calm and stimulus. After all, daydreaming and people watching are two of the greatest avenues toward inspiration, enabling you to take a guilt-free and replenishing break from writing your own book or screenplay about our always-evocative city.

Choosing the perfect reading nook in DTLA can be hard, but we saved the best for last-- your very own home at 888 Hope.