Yet Another Ojai Treasure


All photos by Slim Paley



Speaking of Summer Reading…(well,weren’t we??!)

(Look, it’s almost Summer. Lengthy segues are for Fall)


As I mentioned last week, I decided  to reread “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury so we stopped in to one of the true treasures of Ojai;

“Bart’s Books”

to see if they had a copy.



Just one block off the main street of Ojai, Bart’s is a sincerely NOVEL experience (:))



Passing through the  narrow entrance  one discovers  a  preposterous proposal-

a bookshop open almost entirely to the elements 24/7!

What of the rain? you may well ask, as I did.

Well, firstly, it hardly ever rains in Ojai, but when it does the overhang apparently provides just enough coverage to keep inventory dry.

Being on the inland side of the mountain range that separates Ojai from Ventura and Santa Barbara, the climate is much warmer (OK, it’s HOT) and therefore the books don’t suffer from damp in the way they would oceanside.




 How many bookshops do you frequent where enormous grapefruits come rolling off the roof  to land at your feet?? ( top right corner)




Or you’re offered a perch in your own little interrogation booth to peruse  ‘True Crime’ tomes?






A ginormous cat named “PYGMIE” presides, serving up more attitude than a French flight attendant.

This was the look she gave me when I asked how often they turn over the choices on their “Most Requested” shelf.




Grab a stick of hard candy or a Nespresso and stay for hours- as we did!



Cookery books are to be found, where else? in the kitchen of course.


Bart’s, not surprisingly,  had experienced a run on their Bradbury inventory over the last 48 hours so there were no more “Dandelion Wine”s

however we found many other fun treasures

including a copy (in one of their few glass book cases) of Charles Baker Jr.’s “The Gentleman’s Companion: Volume I & II” for a reasonable $100


Slim Paley photo

Featured in one of my past posts, The Gentleman’s Companion is THE ultimate book concerning the art of concocting cocktails.




as well as this fab Douglas Fairbanks biography with a most irresistible cover.

Eat your heart out Johnny Depp.



Lastly, not to be a rabble-rouser, but

know what I won’t be reading this summer?

“50 Shades of Grey”


I said it.

I feel like Meryl Streep in “Silkwood”





After all your hard work and heavy lifting at Bart’s, why not saunter up the road to the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and treat yourself to one of these;

(Vegetarians look away)


I cannot deny I was dreaming of this burger the entire drive over.

Great Burgers & Books.

Life is Good!




  1. Yum to both the books and the burger! Especially loved the cookbook section…… I want the whole room, books included!

  2. How have my husband and I missed this great find in Ojai????? Very unique and welcoming source of books. I also bought immediately after your post on The Gentleman’s Companion/ both volumes in great condition on Amazon. You will receive credit for the Bedt Father’s Day gift I have given my husband. Thank u. K

  3. What a lovely book shop! I have never ventured outside of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa to actually appreciate the wonderful town that Ojai is. Next time I must.

    I’m going to admit… I’m reading 50 Shades. I’m not sure I would recommend it, but embarrassingly, I can’t seem to put it down.

  4. This looks AMAZING! So sorry I missed the bookstore last weekend. Nuts. On our next visit for sure!!! Wait, but what else ARE you reading this summer? Oh, and I’m not a 50 Shades girl either. The writing is just, well…you know.
    Happy Summer!

  5. Ok, I was just there… I love Bart’s Books more than life itself. Almost. Anyway, I love the kitchen books in the KITCHEN! But then, you know ALL the secret hot spots…

  6. I love your bookstore find. Will have to visit next time I’m in the area. I second you on “50 Shades of Grey”.- seriously.
    I decided to be a part time veggie awhile back. I was starting to scare the neighbors, pacing the back fence like some sort of rabid wolf, when they fired up the grill. (my dear vegan friends, please forgive me). 75% vegan 25% other. Doing my best to do my part, but there is no way I could pass up that burger. great pictures.

      • Oh, I got more than glances through the fence (this is a tall fence, hedges and trees?? how did this happen). Apparently they heard me on my cell telling my best friend that I was ready to “take down” the neighbor for his steak (my only excuse -2 months no meat). 20 minutes later – wife from next door is standing on my door step we a perfectly cooked steak. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. And yes I wolfed it down.

  7. What a wonderful place! And that burger? Looks like it’s worth every bite.

    I’ll help you rabble-rouse. I won’t be reading “50 Shades” either and it has nothing to do with its BISAC code. I’m in publishing and it just really makes me sad when something so poorly written goes this nutty. I don’t get it. There’s so much out there in the same category that is well done. Weird to think about when there are so many beautiful books out there…

    Okay, so now I feel like the little kid in Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

  8. Oh my goodness. I want to take a sleeping bag and just live there. That is one crazy awesome bookstore.

    And ditto for me on ignoring “50 Shades,” too. I’ve heard around that the original Anne Rice “Sleeping Beauty” series is still way sexier and naughtier. Not to even mention the quality of the “prose.” A-hem.

  9. Oh, how nice to see so many real books! In the age of electronics, books have character and are like familiar, old companions. I will definitely be heading to Bart’s Books if I come to Ojai. And certainly Ojai Valley Inn for lunch. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Love this ‘book house’ that is Bart’s, wish I could jump in the car and be there in 10 mins! I’ll take the burger too. I’m with you on the 50 Shades of Grey, I don’t get it. Besides, it sounds like a description of my boyfriend’s t-shirt drawer.

  11. I’ve had that burger there, it is one of the bests for sure!

    Sadly, my nightstand still has the same stack of unread books on it for the past year. Although, I am happy to report that after spending a few days in Palm Springs recently on a lounge chair with a book, I am back in reading mode. It feels so good to be back! Goodbye mindless reality TV (except for those darn New York Housewives) and hello summer reading!!

  12. I’m so glad to read that you won’t be reading “Grey.” All my friends are so “into” it, and I feel like a geeky prude, but it is just not interesting to me. One friend bought the entire trilogy and graciously offered to loan them to me. I”m waiting an appropriate amount of time to return them to her, so she won’t think I didn’t like them!

  13. I love Independent booksellers. What a treat, I will go there on my next visit to your area, I thought the burger looked great. Thanks for helping me plan my dinner.

  14. love from Provence: google; Bastide de Marie. heaven ….but there’s always Ojai.

  15. I have had that burger and it tastes BETTER than it looks!!! Will have to stop in Bart’s on my next trip to Ojai…didn’t know about it….thanks Slim


  16. I love those independent booksellers. We still have quite a few in Melbourne. When not buying books on Kindle I always use them. I haven’t read 50 Shades although people are raving about it which kind of makes me curious. Is it because they really love it or because others do? There is definitely a place for trash. I am a Flaubert’n’Lee Child kind of person. A mixture is good. But there is bad writing and BAD writing.

  17. In complete agreement with you about the burgers, the books and 50 shades. Looks like it was a fun, relaxing trip! Thanks for sharing!

  18. S.P. I also will NOT be reading 50 Shades (this summer).

    I had to add, “this summer”, as I have recently picked up the irritating habit of Kardashian’s and now can not trust myself to keep my resolutions NOT to start something in which I have no interest.

    Sure would be fun to know how Mr. Jenner would have aged if not for his cosmetic facial flattening.

    Does everyone order the Barts Burger served on the counter? Those fries and that burger would get me to drive all the way from waaay down here in San Juan Capistrano! Thanks for the lead. 🙂


    • No, the burger is not at Bart’s. It’s at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. My husband actually commented as he looked around the ‘spa restaurant’ that practically everyone WAS ordering the burgers. Hard to have one of those pass by you and then order a salad!

  19. – Looks like a great place to lose yourself…and…based on your photo of the coffee table books…Kristen Scott Thomas needs to play Marlene Dietrich in a movie.

  20. I love used book stores. I have got to visit Ojai again. Thanks for giving us tips on worthwhile place in your neck of the woods.

  21. So much FABULOUS in one little ole post absolutely rocks my world!!!!! Thanks for sharing! And I want that Fairbanks book!!!

  22. I read so many rave reviews about Fifty Shades of Grey and saw it was top of the best seller charts, so thought I must be missing out on something fabulous.I downloaded the sample onto my kindle and couldn’t believe it – what a load of poorly written rubbish! Really amazed that these books are best sellers.

  23. oooh that store is sooooooo cool! how much would that NOT go over in Vancouver

    that is probably the best photograph ever taken of a burger, you should sell that to Getty Images!

  24. There is no place like Bart’s. I give them my books every few years when my shelves get too tight. In the 80’s I found a first edition ‘Catcher in the Rye’ there. Gave if to a teacher upon the occasion of her retirement. She had all 5 of our kids in her class at one time or another. It pained me so to part with it but as she wept after opening it I fully realized the joy of giving.
    Visit Bart’s … Really, just do it!

  25. My parents first took me to Bart’s Books when I was around 6, (Bart’s has been around forever!) Thanks for the beautiful photos reminding me of a delightful childhood and teen(hood) roaming the bookshelves of Bart’s!!!

  26. Ojai is my once year treat! The Oaks to eat healthy, visit the artists studios, shop
    at Barbara Bowmans and of course -Bart’s Books!

  27. Downloaded FiftyShades out of curiosity and because I had never read anything (really!) in this genre…….have slogged my way to Chapter 6 ( have read that the fun begins in
    Chapter 8) and can’t continue…….such poor writing I can’t believe it has swept the country……don’t get it…wish I’d saved my $9.99 for Bart’s.
    Ahh Ojai, the first place my husband and I ever shared a spa hot tub some 40 years ago…..time to go back!

  28. I live for bookstores and so few independent ones are left. This place looks amazing. Perfect post for summer and the beginning of summer reading time.
    Love that cat! French flight attendant couldn’t be more a more perfect description!


  29. A bookshop that doesn’t even need a roof and photogenic burgers ; I’ll repeat what I said in a previous comment : you live in Paradise ! Enjoy it for the rest of us !

  30. What a fun shop! I love places like this and love that they are still there despite all the big Barnes and Nobles type places popping up everywhere, I would much rather viist an interesting shop like this. (and the burger next door would be a strong reason to go too…lol)!

  31. I wish they had places like that here in the northeast….of course the weather would ruin any chance of that happening here. It looks like you know where different areas of paradise exist in this world.

    I wouldn’t be caught dead with that “Gray” book.

  32. O.M.G. I am drooling over this place! A good bookstore is hard to find. Here in scenic Denton, the one people rave about is called “Recycled Books” and it’s in an old Opera House. It’s crammed toe to ceiling with books, but…that’s it. It’s not very reader-friendly, just a pile of books you can sift through if you want a certain thing. Very creaky and rather creepy actually. And you’d never know it was an Opera house. :/

    And amen to not reading 50 shades of gray.

    I’m already google mapsing, trying to find a way to visit this little treasure sometime in my life. All this awesomeness, plus free grapefruits?? I’m in.

  33. Hi Slim, Just went to BookExpo in NY, the big trade show for publishing people. Lots of gorgeous new books coming out later this year: Diane Keaton’s new architecture one; Roman and Williams’ new monograph, La Perla’s new book; Kelly Wearstler’s next one (the woman needs to slow down, I think; she makes us all look bad!); a gorgeous one called ‘Gardenalia’, and a lovely book called ‘Paris by Hollywood’. And yet the one book they were all talking about was Grey! Ugh. What a hideous book. I did a full post on the show on my blog. You should attend next year. You’d love it! Janelle McCulloch
    PS Thanks for your lovely NY tips recently. I went to Eleven Madison Park and loved it.

  34. I love any climate where grapefruits grow that big. What an awesome place to be inspired for the next great read. And even a former vegetarian like me can appreciate that burger – wow! Now that we are back in the US, it’s time to explore the west coast again and Ojai is at the top of my list! So glad you left a comment today – thanks for stopping by!

  35. we were just at the most beautiful wedding at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa! Wish I had known about that bookstore…….such a wonderful town! There are only 1800 people who live there!

    Gorgeous country….and such a wonderful feeling there!

    Thank you for the great post!

  36. i’ve actually been to this bookstore. i love that you can even buy books in the middle of the night there.

    i didn’t stay at the ojai valley inn spa. i stayed at the oaks spa. it’s the el cheapo spa that has been there forever and i went alone and loved it. they knocked themselves out with my vegan diet. it was so fun.

    i have no interest in that 50 shades of gray book either.

    looking forward to your summer slimtastic posts.


  37. love the Gentleman’s companion! My fave 40th then 50th and will be 60th birthday gifts for men..What to give them is always a quest.. I love looking for them .Thrilled to find another who appreciates such finds.

  38. I have a copy of Dandelion Wine. I started reading it and then got distracted by Adam Carolla’s Not Taco Bell Material. Promise I’ll get to it this summer. 🙂

  39. Fifty Shades of Boring Bad Writing. My two favorite bloggers panned it – S.P. and the gardners cottage – such validation!!

  40. Dear Slim
    Another wonderful post – love reports on books and bookstores and Barts looks truly wonderful. It’s sad to live too far away to visit. Haven’t heard about this Shades of Grey thing everyone is so excited about but we’ve been travelling for about 7 weeks so maybe that’s why. Out of curiosity will have to get a copy, but only when it hits the Op Shops in Oz at around 50 cents a copy. Since the writing is so poor, as people say, it’s obviously not worth spending money on – but when so many people say that one shouldn’t read it, it sparks an old rebellious streak that makes me want to see for myself. You’re so right about Douglas Fairbanks! Don’t you love him! Also love that mountain scenery!

    Best wishes, Pamela

  41. Hey Slim–

    Ok, I’ll say it…I read all three of the Grey books, and enjoyed them tremendously for what they were. I honestly didn’t give much thought to the quality of writing, just enjoyed the naughtiness and the love story. There. I’ve said it and I still have self respect. 🙂
    I always bookmark your reading recommendations though–so perhaps it is time for another list?

    • ha ha! no need for shame Nancy. Obviously me and my small band of “Greyters” (see what I did there?!) are in the minority as the “Shades of Grey” series occupies 3 of the 5 spots on the best seller list at the moment. S.ofG. even had it’s own stand in the bookshop in Sun Valley (for shame!) 🙂

  42. OMG! My mouth is watering for that HAMBURGER! I live in Northeastern Washington and want to drive down to Ojai just to sink my mouth into this luscious thing. Just got back from a camping trip in Northern Idaho, Pritchard and Murray area (Gold Country). Love your Posts. Bobbie

  43. More than twenty years ago my husband and I frequented Ojai as my stepsons attended Thacher. Today I drove my daughter there for the first time to see her brothers alma mater, get a burger at the inn and to Bart’s (thanks for that) to pick up a book she needed for her upcoming senior year. Where does the time go?!?

Would love to hear from you!