Where are all the used bookstores, LA?

To me, there are very few things that are better than a cheap, charming used bookstore. When I was home in Bedford, Texas this last week, I was reminded of how, since I was a kid, I have always loved wandering around inside Half Price Books, looking for my next literary adventure. Every time I go home, I go to the local branch  and hit the clearance section to grab great books for $2 and $3. Even though it is now America’s largest used book store chain, it started in Dallas and the store around the corner from my parent’s house is the one that I’ve been going to since I was in the first grade.

It seems that stores like HPB are a rarity these days around here. In fact, in Los Angeles, there are not many notable cheap used bookstores that I can think of. The only one I frequent are the $1 Book Heaven in Burbank, which is currently operating a Halloween store at the moment and I’m told will be turned back into a bookstore soon. And I’ve heard Ilyad Books up in North Hollywood is good, though I try not to venture into the valley anymore unless I really have to.

I’ve been wondering why this is, and I’m guessing it is due to lack of demand and expensive real estate prices. There are a lot of small independent shops that are great – Book Soup in my neighborhood is awesome – but I don’t get the lack of used bookstores. Why are Los Angelenos so anti-used books?

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Books On Writing – What To Read Next?

My designated shelf for books on writing – everything is there except the Writer’s Market guides which are too big and have to go on a different shelf!

Is there such a thing as having too many books on the subject of writing?

For me, the answer is no, but only as long as you don’t spend all your time reading them and no time putting in to practice what they teach.That is definitely something that, up until now, I’ve been guilty of.

I was looking through the titles on my special writing shelf today and was trying to decide which book to dive in to next. I’m trying to pick one that will keep me motivated, both to keep writing for this blog and also to work on my novel-in-progress. Typically, I concurrently read a writing book while also reading another fiction (and sometimes non-fiction) title. That way I can just grab whichever book I’m in the mood for at the moment.

The books on my shelf range from old college textbooks to old favorites to reference books to several titles that were gifts that I haven’t read yet. Here is a list of what I have by author:

Any recommendations from this list on which book to grab first? Or any big ones I’m missing that I shouldn’t be without in my writing book library?

How I Stack Up As A ‘Serious’ Writer

My current "office" - my kitchen table.

As a first step in trying to get myself to write more, I started scouring my favorite writing blogs to find some inspiration on what it means to be a writer, and I came across a post over at Aliventures called 7 Habits of Serious Writers. When I read it, I started to think about how I stack up as a ‘serious’ writer, by her definition. Besides lacking the obvious number one habit – ahem, writing itself – I’m obviously missing a few of the other habits she lists as necessary.

#1: Writing – Obviously, I do not have this hurdle conquered, otherwise I wouldn’t have started a blog to complain about how I never write. But, I am taking the first steps towards getting serious about this writing business, even if it’s starting a blog about not writing. Hey, they say that if you aren’t sure where to begin, start by writing what you know. I’m certainly an expert on being a non-writing writer.

#2: Focus – This one I fail almost as miserably at as I do actually writing. I have always had issues focusing on things for an extended period of time. I struggle with wanting to plan everything out down to every last detail, but lacking the focus to follow through. But again, hopefully by making a habit of writing in a blog as often as I can will start a disciplined habit of focusing on ignoring distractions and – hold on, wait a second, Facebook did what? I’ll be right back.

#3: Reading – Ah, FINALLY a habit I can say that I have pretty much mastered. I love books, and I love reading. I read everything from non-fiction, literary fiction, YA titles, classics, and I even have an obsession with reading old college textbooks when I have 10 minutes to kill. I rarely get rid of a book after I’ve read it and I have a ridiculous number of books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet but am dying to tackle. I can’t help it, I love being surrounded by books. Ali recommends reading half an hour a day – that’s easy for me. So, I’ve got one down. 1 for 3 – that isn’t bad. I’ll take my little victories when I can get them.

#4: Learning – Ali means learning how to write by reading about writing and paying constant attention to improving your work. I don’t think I’m doing too badly at this, either. Granted, I haven’t been writing much the last few years but I’ve certainly been reading about writing and thinking about what makes writing better. Score another one for me.

#5: Redrafting – I’m going to go out on a limb and say that without writing something, you certainly can’t redraft something. So this one is another megafail on my part.

#6: Professionalism – I’m not going to even tackle this one. I’m a writer that has a blog about the fact that I don’t write. I don’t expect anyone to take me seriously.

#7: Reflection – I think she means looking at your goals as a writer and your work as a whole as you hone your craft and trudge away towards your ultimate goal. I’d say I’m an uber-reflective person, and I definitely have goals as far as my writing goes. In fact, I fear that I reflect too much, set too many goals and struggle with actually taking the steps it takes to get to where I want to be. What little writing I actually do I think I reflect on far too much, beating myself up over the details and the fact that it isn’t what I intended, until I scrap it. I could do with a little less reflection in my life. I want to replace it with more action.

I’d say I’m 3 for 7. That isn’t too bad of a place to start, right? Hopefully the rest will come with time. But then again, I’m feeling pretty damn optimistic today. Tomorrow I may want to toss this computer out the door and start looking into joining a cult.