Bargain Books a Reader’s Haven

Young women enraptured by books.

Bargain Books in Van Nuys offers an amazing selection at reasonable prices. (Photo: Paula Parisi)

There are few places I enjoy spending time as much as a bookstore, and used bookstores are my favorite. New books are certainly fun, but I love thumbing through well-worn volumes that have a past. Bargain Books on Friar Street in Van Nuys lives up to its name — its prices are very reasonable, and there are a lot of rare finds

Whether I’m looking for a specific book, or just trying to research a topic, I’ve had great luck finding exactly what I need. And then there are the serendipitous acquisitions. One of my very favorite purchases: a $1 book that changed my life. It was an old library copy of the collected short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of my favorite authors. I was familiar with most of the┬ástories, but the astounding thing about it was the introduction, by the editor of the 1951 Charles Scribner volume, Malcolm Cowley.

Cowley was a contemporary of Fitzgerald, and had deep insight into his work. “The handle by which he took hold of his characters was their dreams,” was one of many lovely rays. Cowley was quite a writer himself. Of course, no Fitzgerald. He taught at Stanford, where his students included Ken Kesey and Larry McMurtry. This book was quite battered when I picked it up, but I admired it greatly simply for having survived.

Bargain Books sells $1 books in its parking lot every weekend. It’s brimming interior shelves are a pleasure to poke around in. This is a destination bookstore, well worth visiting for literary tourists.


Paula Parisi poses with Bargain Books owner/

The author (right) and the shop’s proprietor.