Recently, a French Morning reporter, Alexis Chenu, scoured the shelves of Los Angeles bookstores looking for books in French. In searching for him, he found the great classics, from Honoré de Balzac to Flaubert, and even a bit of Johnny Hallyday.
Here is your pick for reading French in Tinseltown.
In the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood, this independent bookstore (close in geography to the Lycée International de Los Angeles) has a great selection of novels, essays, travel guides, and children’s books. Hidden away are two shelves dedicated exclusively to French literature. Many of the classics can be found there, from Flaubert to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Jean-Paul Sartre to Marguerite Duras, and also a new generation of writers. Some of the most intriguing: sweet song by Leila Slimani, 2016 Goncourt Prize; It does not mean anything by Virginie Despentes; Little Pays by Gael Faye and The elegance of the Hérisson by Muriel Barbery.
Skylight Books, 1818 North Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. Open from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Counterpoint records and books
This Franklin Village address is close to Hollywood and has been recycling philosophy, literature, architecture and film books since 1979. It also has about 50 vinyl bins and a CD and cassette tape department. Tucked away, the “Foreign Languages” section has a good handful of books, most of them in French and Spanish. They mostly sell the great classics of French literature with Balzac, Flaubert and Colette as protagonists. Also some Aragon, Apollinaire, Feydeau, various copies of Bescherelles and dog-eared French translations of Jane Austen populating the shelves.
Counterpoint Records and Books, 5911 Franklin Avenue. Open from 12pm to 7pm, Friday and Saturday until 8pm. Closed on Monday.
Alliance Française of Los Angeles
The Alliance Française of Los Angeles has its own bookstore. More than 70 books are available on the site (you can order by email). There are the great banners of French literature (Colette, Daudet, Proust, Maupassant, Pagnol…) but also some more contemporary bestsellers such as those by Edouard Louis (En Finir Avec Eddy Belle Gueule)Cristina Angot (incest) or Amélie Nothomb (Neither d’Eve nor d’Adam) and, for children (or the perennial adolescent), The adventures of Asterix and Obelix. The library also offers 3,000 books on loan, including 1,000 books reserved for children; all are free for members.
Alliance Française de Los Angeles, 10390 Santa Monica Boulevard. Open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Arcana: Books of the Arts
True to the Culver City vibe, this bookstore opened in an old mattress factory and has both an industrial and functional spirit where you can find books on art, photography, design or fashion in an airy space. The selection in French is small but includes some rare titles, mainly from museum catalogs and books. Choices of the moment: Symbolism of the Petit Palais either American artists at the 1900 World’s Fair.
Arcana: Books of the Arts, 8675 Washington Boulevard, Culver City. Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
the last bookstore
Downtown, this iconic Los Angeles address lends itself more to the air of an organized bazaar than a library. But nonetheless, dozens of patrons come to browse and read, some tucked away in a “Foreign Language” section deep in the maze on the first floor (just past the designer boutiques and showroom spaces). These four shelves are very difficult to find, but they are where novels and essays of all genres, languages and eras are mixed. But if yours is the substitute and esoteric, you can find a selection of “the best” diets according to Karl Lagerfeld; nadja by André Breton, The history of the theater What do you know about? Serie; or the tribute to Johnny Hallyday, rebel loverof the biographer of the French stars, Bernard Violet.
The Last Bookstore, 453 South Spring Street, Downtown. Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
This iconic hipster West Hollywood bookstore has a spare French-language section “to be enriched in the coming months,” whatever that means. We will be attentive to this address. But in the meantime, you can always leave with some French magazines like point of view, elle, mister either Marie Claire House.
Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. Open from 10am to 7pm, Sunday from 11am to 7pm.
Translated from the original French Morning article for Frenchly.