09 Aug National Book Lovers Day
On National Book Lovers Day, we want to highlight some of our favorite book spots. Started in 1988 by James Fugate and Tom Hamilton, Eso Won Bookstore has supported black literature and luminaries like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Muhammad Ali for three decades. A revered and reverent space for black bibliophiles and African American authors alike, those in South Los Angeles were heartbroken when Fugate announced recently that Eso Won would be closing at the end of the year.
“I’m just tired,” Fugate said in early July to the New York Times’s Livia Albeck-Ripka, while sitting in his office with a stack of “Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition” by Cedric J. Robinson beside him and a box of Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Raise an Antiracist” beneath his desk.
At almost 70, James has brought his passion for the written word to a community that was at the time bereft of booksellers. He leaves as his legacy a new generation of black and brown bookstores that can continue to uplift the black literary canon and provide access to our unique narratives. Here are just a few:
Why Eso Won is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s favorite bookstore
- La Libreria a unique bookshop offering children’s literature in Spanish imported from Latin America & Spain.
- Libros Schmibros Lending Library is a bilingual lending library in Boyle Heights.
- Malik Books was opened in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. Now currently in the Westfield Mall (Fox Hills Mall to all of us of a certain age).
- Mija Books is a wonderful Black, Latinx and woman-owned online children’s bookstore. They primarily offer picture books and board books, many of which are geared toward people of color and written and/or illustrated by people of color. Mija Books also hosts a YouTube storytime and can make customized recommendations for all of your children’s book needs.
- Miss Read Books is a virtual bookstore run by Black women and nonbinary femmes. It provides an online safe space for young adult fiction lovers seeking representation and reflection in the narratives they read. Most of the novels feature women of color and nonbinary characters.
- Other Books has an emphasis on literature in translation, POC creators in both literature and art, alternative comics, international comics and art books, independent presses, POC history, and the Other in related contexts.
- The Reparations Club is a cultural hub for Black Los Angeles residents who want to consume Black-owned products and educational materials in the Mid-City area.
- The Salt Eaters Bookshop is another independent bookstore in Inglewood, Ca prioritizing books, comics, and ‘zines by and about Black women, girls, femmes, and gender expansive people. Inspired by The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara, the shop works to create a “place to call home.”
- The Shades Of Afrika bookstores are located in the cities of Corona and Long Beach, right on the edge of Los Angeles County.
A day for all those who love to read, National Book Lovers Day encourages us to find our favorite reading place and a good book (fiction or non-fiction) to read the day away. Want to know what CoCo staffers think are some great reads?
- Kirk Samuels, Community Coalition’s Director of Civic Engagement says pick up a copy of James Foremen Jr.’s, “Locking Up Our Own”.
- Jesse Maeshiro, CoCo Grant Writer had three on her list: “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde, “All About Love” by bell hooks.
- Our Office Administrator Renee Henderson says, “The Half That’s Never Been Told” by Edward E. Baptist “The Color Of Law” by Richard Rothstein and “The Debt” by Randell Robertson are all bomb reads.