Trending Topics
The Open Ocean: Life at Sea 
The open ocean is a strange place, always shifting, always changing. It begins where coastal waters end, and it covers most of the planet—300 million...
The Hotel Arcadia 
It loomed above the beach like Count Dracula’s beach residence: stark, turreted, treeless, and not exactly inviting, but Dracula wasn’t written yet when the imposing...
PINNIPED PARTY! California Sea Lions 
They are fast and powerful swimmers and divers who love to hang out with their friends at the beach. When things are good, it’s a...
OVERBOARD! Yacht Harbor Mania 
“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” —Kenneth Grahame, The Wind...
PLACES. A Bookstore+
Karolina Palmer founder of PLACES books photographed at the opening of her new book shop over the holidays. Follow the shop on Instagram @places_books_ Photos by Saori Wall

PLACES. A Bookstore+ 

Karolina Palmer founder of PLACES books photographed at the opening of her new book shop over the holidays. Follow the shop on Instagram @places_books_ Photos by Saori Wall

PLACES bookshop opened in a studio at Rosewood in Topanga this past December. There was a fine mist of rain that morning, the soft opening for the imminent sky river. I could take a breath and drink the air, taste geranium, pine and rosewood. 

I was the first to arrive at Karolina’s opening and appreciate how tucked away it is. On one side, Rosewood, with an exterior reminiscent of the sultry corridors of Marrakech; on the other, Froggy’s—the historic hall, restaurant and watering hole that is now only open a handful times a year. Turning down the driveway next to Froggy’s, I realized I took for granted the sake margaritas and surprisingly vibrant fish tacos you could once get there.

Karolina Palmer, the founder of PLACES, had never lived in a town without a bookshop. Other than the library, and a couple of gift shops carrying some books, there hadn’t been a book shop in Topanga for several years. Having one again adds to the cadence of life here.

On a table outside, beside a warming spread of food, was a collage and menu Karolina made. It described the cozy offerings for the opening: spiced carrot, ginger, and black sesame loaf; lemon, plum, olive oil cake;  leek, red cabbage, feta frittata; toor dal with charred broccolini and pink radish. Also thoughtfully included was a brown rice garlic congee with ginger, cilantro and chili, and a gluten free pear skillet cake. People sipped on hot drinks and mulled wine. 

To take away there was fresh roasted masala spice and buckwheat teff seed loaf made by hand. A table of delights, surrounded by chatter. Quite suddenly, I was in the mood to celebrate.

On the shelves of the bookshop I found familiar covers. It was like seeing old friends — Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, a personal favorite, as well as On Beauty.

“I would happily read Zadie Smith’s grocery list. I love the way she dissects culture,” Karolina shared. 

Nearby was The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag. A torn page with a portrait of Elbert Hubbard, American writer, and artist rested on a shelf, its edges seemingly crisped by candle flame. Elbert, a philosopher who famously shared his view that all good men were really anarchists, had a difficult life as a publisher and thought leader in the early 1900’s. My favorite line of his: “The love we give away is the only love we keep.”

I feel safe in a room full of stacks of books. And safer yet in the company of cookbooks. I think it could be true that nothing horrible has ever happened while reading a cookbook.

A week or so after the opening, I found myself anticipating the next happening at PLACES and joined in the holiday shopping there. Folks with a cafe called Sightglass on Seventh Street in San Francisco were there to serve coffee, and I could almost hear Divisadero Street sipping it. 

The event coincided with the  anniversary of the death of  thirteenth century Persian mystic and poet Rumi. To honor him, my neighbor invited a handful of us over to an acoustic set by Tim O’Gara, and to share a vibrant Persian spread. We broke some uuof Blake’s Topanga Mother bread, along with a traditional sangak we picked up on Ventura Blvd. It was  large enough to nap in. I also couldn’t resist picking up Persian saffron and pistachio ice creams. Another thing that could be true; you don’t need to get on a plane to explore another country, a  community bookstore opens a window on the world.

“I fell in love with Topanga the moment I landed here,” says Karolina. “I love how simple my life feels. Meeting friends at TLC and Endless Color for a bite or heading to Space art + supply for a beautiful experience are so much of what anchors our community. Book shops have been a touchpoint for me in every place I’ve lived and spent time in. I seek them out when I travel so I can anchor myself into the place I’m visiting. I have spent countless hours in them pursuing comfort, relief, and wisdom.”

PLACES is located at 1111 N Topanga Canyon Blvd

You may be interested in PLACES’ book club currently visiting The Agony of Eros by South Korean-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han.

To order bundles of books to gift

To order eats by Karolina @saladdaysmeals 

Topanga Mother loafs @TopangaMother

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *