Traveler's Journal

At the Equator

My personal growth, such as it is, can be traced through the things I have collected over the years: baseball cards and Hot Wheels, tropical fish, and now books.

The best part about collecting stuff is that you end up spending a lot of time in places where said stuff can be found. And so when I heard about the opening of Equator Books on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, I was doubly thrilled. Here was a brand-new, independent bookstore where I could hang out on what was already one of my favorite hangout streets. The store opens wide to Abbot Kinney, and passersby stop, look, and then wander in as if hypnotized. Bicyclists pull over, and people walking their dogs come right in.

On a recent visit, a black French bulldog and a Jack Russell terrier canoodled while their human companions perused the store's collection, which you're not likely to find just anywhere. I surfed the surfing books, then cruised over to the architecture books, before kicking out in the literature section, where I coveted some signed Michael Chabon and vintage Ernest Hemingway.

I didn't actually buy anything, but I hardly left empty-handed. Because when you collect books, you collect bookstores too. And this one's a keeper. Equator Books (1103 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; www.equatorbooks.com or 310/399-5544). —MATTHEW JAFFE