Los Angeles is home to a multitude of specialized bookstores, from those oriented towards horror and mystery to others with more practical focuses – like cookbooks. Follow columnist Clea Wurster as she explores the many niche literary interests the city accommodates.
I didn’t quite know what to expect when I heard about a bookstore that guides metaphysical introspection along the posh streets of Venice.
Yet there it was, Mystic Journey Bookstore – undeniably real and tucked between what looked like an upscale condominium and a classic beachy seafood restaurant.
The storefront features a vibrant orange that fades into beige toward the roof of the building. Thin script, reminiscent of a calligrapher’s penmanship, lays out the shop name below symbols of various religious origins, and announces the store’s presence to busy shoppers that stroll the streets with their expensive dogs. Mystic Journey proved a welcome departure from the rigid normalcy of Abbot Kinney Boulevard, though emanating a similar stiff feel.
The ambience of the store was much less homey than expected for a business that intends to be a “metaphysical portal,” as its website advertises. Though the shelves were lined with a variety of more down-to-earth self-help titles than one might find in a Barnes & Noble, something about the environment of the store felt fabricated, with crystals placed just so to create cultivated clutter.
Among books on subjects such as geodes and spiritual healing, the store also boasts workshops on unorthodox topics like “goddess empowerment” and “animal communication.” Although I didn’t partake in any of the store’s programs, I did note many similar titles on the shelves and questioned if they actually did as promised. Could I, too, become an empowered goddess? Possibly, but for now I’ll stick to reviewing bookstores.
Since all bookstores tend to stock kitschy items like clever greeting cards, mugs and notebooks, I was not surprised to find similar items here. However, the selection was a bit different and much more inspirational than I’ve seen elsewhere at other places like BookMonster or The Last Bookstore, with cards sporting quotes such as, “What would you do today if you could not fail?” A hefty selection of incense and candles near the cash register also filled the store with heavy scents of sandalwood and ocean air.
The titles occupying the deep wooden shelves looked intriguing and covered a number of different topics, ranging from yoga and self-improvement to intuitive eating and relationships.
The design of the store was clearly angled towards its typical clientele – wealthy Angelenos – and fell in line with the environment of its locale. The books available for purchase were predictable and the clerks manning the cashiers seemed to truly believe in the mission of the store, helping some customers find just the right book and urging others to attend its various workshops.
Overall, the store is a welcome oasis from the Instagram-worthy shops that line the street. Though the high prices reflect its affluent environment, the heavy scents and almost cluttered appearance of the shelving lead a pseudo-rebellion against the order of Abbot Kinney and the beachy elite of Los Angeles.
Despite walking out without any purchases, I will definitely be returning to peruse the pages of yoga books and mindfulness guides. Something about the crystals and the cheesy greeting cards make me think I might be able to learn a little something about myself.