Vroman’s Holiday Hours!

by Jessica on December 11, 2017


Our hours are a little different to help accommodate all of our customers.
We want you to be able to grab all those gifts to ease that holiday stress.
Hope to see you around the store soon!




Main Store: 9am-9pm
Hastings Ranch: 9am-9pm

Main Store starts extended hours:
Thurs, Fri, Sat: 9am-10pm

Hastings Ranch starts extended hours:
Thurs, Fri, Sat: 9am-10pm


All stores open at 8am, close at 4pm.
Main Store Newsstand opens at 7am

Both stores are closed for Christmas


Main Store: 10am-9pm
Newsstand opens 10am
Hastings Ranch open 10am-8pm


All stores and newsstand open regular time but close at 4pm. 

New Year’s Day & Rose Bowl Parade. 
Main Store & newsstand: 1:30pm-9pm
Hastings Ranch: 11:30am-7pm




Christmas Songs That Won’t Drive You Crazy!

by Jessica on December 8, 2017

It’s that special time of year.
The air is a little more crisp, everyone is a little nicer and we get to listen to Christmas music!
That last part can go either way. Christmas music can evoke some really special feelings or it can evoke anger. A lot of times the music is just overplayed and we’re just so dang tired of hearing it.

Here’s a guide of songs that hopefully won’t make you angry to listen to over and over.
Sadly, you won’t hear too many of these tunes on the speakers of Vroman’s
but that doesn’t mean we don’t dig everyone of these!
Add these to your holiday music playlist today!

Dropkick Murphys
The Season Is Upon Us


Run D.M.C.
Christmas in Hollis



Julian Casablancas
I Wish It Was Christmas Today



David Bowie & Bing Crosby
Little Drummer Boy




Keith Richards
Run Rudolph, Run




Vince Guaraldi
Christmas Time Is Here 




The Walkmen
Christmas Party




LCD Soundsystem
Christmas Will Break Your Heart




Is there anything else you would add to this alternative Christmas playlist?

Books That Will Make You Laugh (2017 Edition!)

by Jessica on December 4, 2017

Let’s face it there’s a lot going on out in the world these days. A lot of times we find it hard to laugh because everything is just weighing us down so much. TV and movies can provide some escape but you can only savor those for as long as they last. These books will bring you into their world and let you sit there for awhile so you can laugh and laugh and laugh some more.
We hope you can find the time to get some giggles in and relax a bit!


I’m Fine…And Other Lies by Whitney Cummings

Here are all the stories and mistakes I’ve made that were way too embarrassing to tell on stage in front of an actual audience; but thanks to not-so-modern technology, you can read about them here so I don’t have to risk having your judgmental eye contact crush my self-esteem. This book contains some delicious schadenfreude in which I recall such humiliating debacles as breaking my shoulder while trying to impress a guy, coming very close to spending my life in a Guatemalan prison, and having my lacerated ear sewn back on by a deaf guy after losing it in a torrid love affair. In addition to hoarding mortifying situations that’ll make you feel way better about your choices, I’ve also accumulated a lot of knowledge from therapists, psychotherapists, and psychopaths, which can probably help you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made.

In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.

Unqualified by Anna Faris

Her comic memoir, Unqualified, shares Anna’s candid, sympathetic, and entertaining stories of love lost and won. Part memoir–including stories about being “the short girl” in elementary school, finding and keeping female friends, and dealing with the pressures of the entertainment industry and parenthood–part humorous, unflinching advice from her hit podcast, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the book will reveal Anna’s unique take on how to master the bizarre, chaotic, and ultimately rewarding world of love.

Vacationland by John Hodgman

Although his career as a bestselling author and on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart was founded on fake news and invented facts, in 2016 that routine didn’t seem as funny to John Hodgman anymore. Everyone is doing it now.Disarmed of falsehood, he was left only with the awful truth: John Hodgman is an older white male monster with bad facial hair, wandering like a privileged Sasquatch through three wildernesses: the hills of Western Massachusetts where he spent much of his youth; the painful beaches of Maine that want to kill him (and some day will); and the metaphoric haunted forest of middle age that connects them. Vacationland collects these real life wanderings, and through them you learn of the horror of freshwater clams, the evolutionary purpose of the mustache, and which animals to keep as pets and which to kill with traps and poison. There is also some advice on how to react when the people of coastal Maine try to sacrifice you to their strange god.

It Devours! A Welcome to Nightvale Novel
by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a mystery exploring the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

Funeral Platter by Greg Ames

From the author of the award-winning novel Buffalo Lockjaw comes a powerful collection of darkly humorous short stories. A young girl uses a burnt log for her ventriloquist act; Franz Kafka and an unnamed narrator cruise a dive bar for women; a grieving couple stage and execute their own funeral; a son brings hot chowder to his caged parents. This stunning collection–packed with moments of violence and tenderness–explores the humor and unease of modern life. Since he first began publishing his fiction, Greg Ames has been praised for his willingness to take risks and the strength and freshness of his voice. Assembled here for the first time, this collection brings together the best work from a brilliant American writer, a playful and innovative artist. In these twenty original short stories, Greg Ames earns his place as one of the best writers of his generation. In the tradition of Etgar Keret, Greg Ames’ prose style ties together the absurd hilarity and deep anguish of contemporary life. These wildly inventive stories will appeal to readers who thirst for a unique, deeply humane voice.

Waiting for the Punch by Marc Maron

From thebeloved and wildly popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron comes a book of intimate, hilarious and life changing conversations with some of the funniest, and most important people in the world like you’ve never heard them before. Waiting for the Punch features the stories and thoughts of such luminaries as Amy Schumer, Mel Brooks, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Sir Ian McKellen, Lorne Michels, Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham, Jimmy Fallon, RuPaul, Louis CK, David Sedaris, Bruce Springsteen, and President Obama.

This book is not simply a collection of these interviews, but instead something more wondrous: a running narrative of the world’s most recognizable names working through the problems, doubts, joys, triumphs, and failures we all experience. With each chapter covering a different topic: parenting, childhood, relationships, sexuality, success, failures and others, Punch becomes a sort of everyman’s guide to life. Barack Obama candidly discusses the challenges of the presidency, and the bittersweet moments of seeing your children grow up. Amy Schumer recounts the pain of her parents’ divorce. Molly Shannon uproariously remembers the time she and her best friend hopped a plane from Ohio to New York City when they were twelve on a dare. Amy Poehler dishes on why just because you become a parent doesn’t mean you have to like anybody else’s kids but your own. Bruce Springsteen expounds on the dual nature of desperation to both motivate and devastate.

Indies First 2017! Another Great Success!

by Jessica on December 1, 2017

Last Saturday, November 25th, was Indies First (and Small Business Saturday)!
We are still dreaming about what a wonderful day it was and wanted to share some photos from the day!

About Indies First:
Indies First, held on Small Business Saturday, brings together authors, readers, and publishers in support of independent bookstores. Authors and local celebrities volunteer at events across the country. Indies First and Small Business Saturday was held this year on November 25, a day which is dedicated to supporting the local businesses that help communities thrive.
Our stores were visited by some very special guest booksellers
chatting about books and recommending their favorite titles.
Check out who was here!
The amazing Attica Locke was a guest bookseller and was gracious enough to sign some stock for us too!
Everyone’s favorite Nerd was here shelving books, talking up customers and being an absolute joy to be around! We may just have to have Curtis Armstrong as a member of the Vroman’s staff soon!
One of our favorite local authors and great mystery authors,
Kwei Quartey, was here in the morning, too!
Check out this newest novel, Death By His Grace!
The always adorable, Rachel Ignotofsky,
helped out in the Children’s Department recommending books and helping customers all afternoon.
Thank you too all our guest booksellers and for everyone that continues to shop local, shop small. We wouldn’t be here without you! Until next November!

Vroman’s Walk of Fame Adds Luis J. Rodriguez!

by Jessica on November 27, 2017

We had such an amazing time on Saturday, November 18th when we honored poet/author Luis J. Rodriguez as our newest inductee to the Vroman’s Walk of Fame.

I wanted to go ahead and cross post a little blog write up from Michael Sedano over at La Bloga.
He took some great photos and wrote about the day’s events.

Read the full post HERE.

Vroman’s Holiday Events Guide!

by Jessica on November 24, 2017

There’s already so much to do around the holidays. Gift buying, get togethers, decorating, cookies, Christmas card photos that we forget to take some time for ourselves to have some fun! Bring the kiddos and visit us for these fun and free events! (Take note of which store they will be taking place at).

Put on your pajamas and bring over your favorite stuffed animal for a holiday story time and craft.
Afterwards, leave your friend with us, because the animals are having a bookstore slumber party!!

Saturday, December 2, 11:00am
Vroman’s presents Winter Wonderland!

This holiday spectacular will feature kid’s treats, crafts, and a photo opportunity with Santa!
(Your photo courtesy of Vroman’s Bookstore) The Pasadena Playhouse District will also be presenting Merry Merry Movie featuring a free screening of
A Muppet Christmas Carol next to Vroman’s Bookstore.

Sunday, December 3, 11:00am
Holiday Craft Fun Day at Hastings Ranch!
*This event will take place at our Hastings Ranch location!*

Join us for special crafty activities for kids at Hastings Ranch – we will supply the materials!

Join us for a fun time of special writing and crafty activity for kids.
There will be a variety of crafts to choose from – little gifts that can be taken home to give to your family!
We supply the stationery, craft supplies, and we mail the letters from the store!

Saturday, December 9, 10:00am
Special Holiday Storytime featuring Santa!

Santa reads us his holiday favorites & maybe some all-year-round favorites, too!

Join us for a special writing activity for kids.
We supply the stationery and we mail the letters to Santa from our store!

Santa reads us his holiday favorites & maybe some all-year-round favorites, too!

Decorate a house that you can take home!
$24.00 + tax – includes house and decorations, though you can bring extra candy & décor.
Space is limited and it sells out every year so don’t wait to sign up! Please sign up by 12/5/17.

Young Readers League Story Contest Winners!

by Jessica on November 20, 2017

This year our Young Readers League picked The Key To Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd! In the spirit on this book, kids aged 8-14 were invited to enter a writing contest. In 300 words of less, they were to write a ghost story. The guidelines were the word count (at 300) and must be an original story. The Pasadena Library was flooded with entries and we are happy to announce the winners here!

Young Readers League 2017 Writing Contest
3rd place
Category 1 (ages 8-11)

Age 10 (Grade 5)

“The Ghosts in the Cemetery”

A young girl takes a not-so-ordinary walk through a cemetery
when the clock strikes twelve.

Lily is a girl who has no mother. Neither does she have sisters or brothers. It’s just Lily and her father. Her father is a lawyer. Lily visits the cemetery and stops by her late mother’s grave. She stares and thinks for hours, then leaves for home every day. One night when Lily’s father told her he’ll be away, Lily is woken suddenly and is staying awake. She wasn’t in the middle of a nightmare. She thinks it’s very strange. But when Lily feels this way, she visits her mother’s grave. Tonight will be no different. Lily dresses and grabs a light. She isn’t scared; she’ll try to prevail. But she then doesn’t feel she has might.

She ventures into the cemetery weaving in and out through the trees. She trips on roots and tumbles on the ground. The grass felt cold when she went down. Lily feels unsure of herself as the clock strikes twelve. When this happens Lily thinks about returning home. Lily is about to start her way when the ground beneath her rumbles. Lily grabs onto a tree and shouts as rocks tumble. Lily gasps as a spirit jumps out of a grave. Lily, frightened and scared, crawls out and asks the ghost who he is.
But before the spirit can answer, Lily gives a shout of surprise.

“Hey!” she says, “You’re Mayor Alvin! Our first mayor to win an Olympic prize!”

At first, the mayor is startled but he relaxes into a smile.
“Hello,” he says. “Who are you?”
“I’m Lily,” she replies.

Lily watched, amazed, as the ghosts became alive.
“We get out every midnight,” says the mayor. “You’re the first to see us rise.”

Lily runs away, finding her mother walking.
Lily says, “Hi. I’m Lily Walker. Your daughter. The one you left behind.”

Young Readers League 2017 Writing Contest
2nd place
Category 1 (ages 8-11)

Age 11 (Grade 6)

“The Haunted Pair of Ballet Slippers”

A ballerina has trouble with her enchanted ballet slippers.

The little ballerina warned them! No one would listen to her. They had no idea of how dangerous the pair of ballet slippers could possibly be. Whenever she would put on her shoes during the class it would appear as though she is doing a crazy chicken dance. Once the teacher asked her to point her feet, she would flex them; when she asked her to flex her feet, she would point them. Everyone in her class thought that she was dyslexic or weird, but she was actually just a normal human being. One time she was so out of control that she twisted her ankle. The dancer could not take it any longer. So she threw one of her slippers breaking the glass mirror. The teachers yelled, “Young lady this is no place for a ballerina like you to throw things and damage them. You will have to pay a consequence and that is to never come back EVER AGAIN!” Sadly, the ballerina left the dance studio, never to return again.
Later that night on a full moon, the janitor went inside the studio. He noticed tiny little shattered pieces of a glass mirror on the floor. Of course the right thing to do would be to clean it up. So, he rapidly rushed over to the closet to get a broom and a dustpan. As he walked over to the room he heard a soft tone of music. Each step sounded clearer to him. “It must just be my imagination,” he thought.
There was only one way to find out!
He swiftly opened the door and saw two lonely ballet slippers dancing to the MUSIC!

Young Readers League 2017 Writing Contest
1st place
Category 1 (ages 8-11)

Age 11 (Grade 7)

“The Journal”

A story of an ordinary girl with a not so ordinary story, who discovers the shocking truth of her family.

This is the story of an ordinary girl with a not so ordinary story. My name is Jenna Adler and I live in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to Google, New Orleans is called the most “haunted city in America.” I never really thought of it like that. New Orleans has had many tragedies such as the Yellow Fever Epidemic during 1817-1905. There was also The LaLaurie Mansion where a lady named Delphine enslaved African American people and she tortured and murdered them. My home wasn’t creepy at all, but my parents decided it was time to move from our small house to a penthouse in the French Quarter. It was during the move I realized something very disturbing about my family.
I once had a sister named Daphne. Her name was beautiful and perfect and these are the things I remember about her. She died when I was very young. So, the night we moved into our new home, I felt like I wasn’t alone at all. I told my parents I felt very spooked and they said that I will be okay and told me to rest. The next morning, I woke up early and noticed a panel of uneven wood in the floor. I pull the wood up and saw a journal that said “Daphne” on it. “How strange,” I thought, because that was my sister’s name. I opened the journal and the first page was written to me! I slammed the journal closed and ran into my parents’ room and showed them what I found. My mom started crying and my dad said, “Jenna, there is something you should know.” It was then that I learned the shocking truth about my family. We are actually ghosts and Daphne murdered us. The journal was the story of what happened.

Young Readers League 2017 Writing Contest
3rd place
Category 2 (ages 12-14)

Age 13 (Grade 7)

“The Selfie”

Three girls at a sleepover discover a strange figure in their picture.

‘‘It was a dark and stormy night, just like how most ghost stories start,” Kate began. “We’re seriously doing this? Ghost stories are super childish!” Poppy exclaimed. Kate and Abby laughed. “You’re just scared, Poppy!” Abby added jokingly. The three of them had been best friends since third grade, when Abby lost her tooth in Kate’s apple. Poppy sat watching and became jealous that she hadn’t lost any molars yet and got Kate to pull it out with a string. Now, they were in eighth grade, and still as close as sardines, or whatever people say. “Anyways, there were three girls at a sleepover. One of them was too scared to do anything fun, so they had the worst time ever,” Kate said, elbowing Poppy. She was not impressed. “Ghost stories just aren‘t scary!” Abby looked around awkwardly as the two glared at each other. “Selfie time!” she yelled out of the blue. She pulled out her phone and took a picture of the three. The picture was cute. Nothing out of the ordinary, except something that Poppy caught in the corner. A person. A little girl with blond pigtails, and a blank facial expression. It gave Poppy chills. “Guys, look in the corner.” Kate gasped. “There’s someone there,” said Abby. “No duh,” Kate replied. Poppy turned around. No one was there. A cold mist filled the air, where the girls were sitting. Eventually, they all fell asleep. The next morning, Abby checked her phone, like she did every morning. There was a picture of all three girls sleeping. There was another video of the girl they saw earlier, saying, “Catch me if you can!” Abby dropped her phone and screamed. She ran out of the room. Kate and Poppy swore they heard laughing. Abby never had a sleepover again.

Young Readers League 2017 Writing Contest
2nd place
Category 2 (ages 12-14)

Age 12 (Grade 7)

“Horror Houses”

The narrator moves into a new house and experiences ghostly encounters.

I must have been eleven when I saw a ghost. We had just moved into a new house. I ran up the stairs to the bedrooms. I chose the one closest to the stairs, it was bigger. My sister didn’t want to have the bedroom next to the stairs. She thought it was creepy.
I was going to bed one night. I was exhausted. In my bathroom I was brushing my teeth. Everyone was downstairs. The room was cold. I felt like I was being watched. I looked down to the vent in the wall. In the bars, I saw a person. A little boy, just watching.
I remember running downstairs. My parents convinced me it was nothing, that this house was too new for ghosts. So I went to my bed and went to sleep. That night I heard the stairs creaking like someone was walking up them I went to investigate. Nobody. All there was, was the smell of old perfume.
I followed the scent to the basement. I went down the steps. The door closed behind me, I heard the lock click. I then heard the scream. A child’s. Then I saw the little boy. He said to help him. His name was Thomas and he needed help. A ghostly figure appeared behind him. A woman. Thomas screamed. I pounded on the door and was relieved to hear my mother’s murmurs and footsteps.
That morning we were watching television. “Horror Houses” was on. lt was talking about a house where an old woman lived. She lured children into her house and killed them. A little boy was one of her victims. A picture of her room went on the screen, it was my bedroom.

Young Readers League 2017 Writing Contest
1st place
Category 2 (ages 12-14)

Age 12 (Grade 6)

“The Ghost Story”

A bolt of lightning hits a cemetery causing ghosts to appear.

It was a dark and gloomy night and the wind howled like hunting wolves. Out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning hit one of the graves at the cemetery. The explosion was so big that it destroyed a few tombs. After the smoke cleared, a ghost appeared. This ghost appeared to be cloudy white with eyes and mouth that looked like an endless hole that could consume anyone in its path. Unfortunately, this was a ghost that could bring back other ghosts. This meant that he would have an army of ghosts. Day by day, the ghosts would haunt homes in the nearby town. These ghosts were on the mission take over the town and make it their own.

In the town, when the first person saw the ghost, he screamed, “GHOST!! GHOST!” People fled their homes and went running as far as they could, except for one person. This person was an old grandma who was hard of hearing, and could hardly see anything in front of her. When a ghost arrived at her home to scare her off, she didn’t even notice it. She was too busy vacuuming her living room of cat hairs. To get her attention, the ghost had to shove her. The startled grandma ended up turning the vacuum on the ghost, where it got sucked up with all the cat hairs.

Word got out how this grandma defeated the ghost with her vacuum. The town’s people returned to their homes to grab their vacuums. One by one, the ghost were sucked up until they were gone.
The town‘s people rewarded this grandma with a new vacuum, and called her “The Ghost Slayer.” She was just happy with a new vacuum, and one that didn’t smell like a cat.

Indies First 2017!

by Jessica on November 17, 2017

On Saturday, November 25,
Join us on Indies First and Small Business Saturday when
our stores are visited by some very special guest booksellers
chatting about books and recommending their favorite titles.
About Indies First:
Indies First, held on Small Business Saturday, brings together authors, readers, and publishers in support of independent bookstores. Authors and local celebrities volunteer at events across the country. Indies First and Small Business Saturday are being held this year on November 25, a day which is dedicated to supporting the local businesses that help communities thrive.
At Vroman’s Main Store:
(located at 695 e. Colorado Blvd.) 
At Vroman’s Hastings Ranch:
(located at 3729 E. Foothill Blvd.)
At Book Soup:
(8818 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, 90069)
SPECIAL INDIES FIRST OFFER from our friends at Libro.fm! 

Allison Hill Reviews ‘Catalina’!

by Jessica on November 13, 2017

Our own President/CEO, Allison Hill has written a review for the new novel Catalina. The full review is below!

The original post an be seen here.

The sex and drugs of ‘Catalina’ fuel a dark, desperate look at L.A. life 

by Allison Hill

The title of the novel “Catalina” sounds like a book about a Hollywood starlet or perhaps a chick-lit beach read about a young woman escaping to Catalina Island for the weekend to recover from a breakup.

Look closer, though.

The palm tree on the cover looks a little sickly, like it’s dying from the fatal fungus that you read about — a threat to these non-native trees of Los Angeles. And the tree’s disjointed, blurry image seems as though you’re viewing it from underwater or perhaps through a haze of drugs or alcohol.

Something seems wrong.

catalinaAnd it is, as quickly becomes apparent in Liska Jacobs’ debut novel about Elsa, a young woman who isn’t so much recovering from her breakup with her married boss and subsequent layoff from her job, as unraveling. Jacobs, who got an MFA from the University of California, Riverside, has appearances at The Last Bookstore on Nov. 10, Skylight Books on Nov. 15 and at UCR Palm Desert Nov. 16 with author Tod Goldberg.

Having escaped New York, Elsa has retreated to Los Angeles and her old life with former friends and an ex-husband. Not unlike the cover of the book, Elsa’s sudden appearance on the scene appears to be a vacation — especially as the group takes off for Catalina Island — but is deceiving.

Elsa has lied about the impetus for her visit and even lied about her arrival date: She has already been staying at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica for days and has begun a not-so-slow, downward spiral beginning with drinking a pitcher of Bloody Marys solo, trying on swimsuits for a busboy, letting the hotel maid catch her masturbating and engaging in a one-night stand with a stranger on the beach — all “enhanced” by the pills she stole from her mother’s medicine cabinet.

The reader has an advantage over Elsa’s friends; we’ve been privy to these events and to Jacob’s foreshadowing so we know what they don’t: Bad things are going to happen. Jacobs’ taut, suspenseful writing keeps the reader anxious and disturbed and yet still completely unprepared for the shocking ending. Comparisons to California noir and Joan Didion’s painful and profound truths about loneliness, relationships and the passage of time are inevitable.

Jacobs’ world also conjures up memories of another Los Angeles author, Bret Easton Ellis, and his debut novel and ‘80s classic “Less Than Zero,” the story of a disaffected college student who returns home to Los Angeles for a winter break filled with drugs, prostitution, one-night stands with men and women, and disillusionment. But Jacobs’ view and voice are definitely her own, as confirmed by her other work in The Rumpus, The Millions, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

“Catalina” also marks a fresh new voice in publishing, one of the first ventures for an imprint with SoCal origins of its own. Award-winning literary publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Flannery O’Connor, Tom Wolfe, Jack Kerouac) has launched a new imprint called MCD/FSG named for its publisher, FSG’s former vice president and executive editor Sean McDonald. “Catalina” is one of its first books.

A native of Laguna Beach with family ties to Southern California, Sean McDonald is known for his innovative approach to publishing and a track record for discovering and working with great authors, all of which aligns with the MCD/FSG mission of quality, innovation, and new voices, styles, and genres.

McDonald also has a record of looking for those authors in California and Daphne Durham, who he describes as his “editorial partner-in-crime at MCD,” seems to be doing the same. The former editor-in-chief and publisher of Amazon Publishing is MCD/FSG’s executive editor and Jacobs’ editor.

All of this is to say that Catalina screams Southern California — the author, the publisher, the setting, even the acknowledgments section listing several L.A. literary contributors.

Jacobs’ novel has a quiet desperation, compelling and evident even before page one, beginning with that cover image: the stark, staticky SoCal landscape and the hint of a shadow.

Mystery author and friend of the store, Kwei Quartey, has given us a little praise with this wonderful blog article on his website. The full article is below.

Original post can be seen here.

by Kwei Quartey
From time to time, I blog about an independent bookstore of note, e.g. Marcus Books. A couple of weeks ago on October 14, I had a book signing at Vroman’s Bookstore in my hometown of Pasadena, California for the launch of Death By His GraceInspector Dawson novel #5. As Vroman’s approaches its 123rd birthday, it’s fitting to talk about its historical and cultural importance in Southern California generally and Pasadena in particular.

Vroman's Bookstore entrance

Vroman’s Bookstore rear entrance
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Vroman's Bookstore rear courtyard

Vroman’s Bookstore rear courtyard
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Launching Death By His Grace at Vroman's Bookstore Oct 14, 2017

Launching Death By His Grace at Vroman’s Bookstore Oct 14, 2017 (Photo: Mike Pashtorian)

A brief history of Vroman’s Bookstore

The oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California, Vroman’s is named after Adam Clark Vroman, who founded the store in 1894. The original Vroman’s Book and Photographic Supply store was located at 60 E. Colorado St in Pasadena, California. Now it’s at 695 E. Colorado Blvd.

Wall banner of Vroman's Bookstore c. 1910 (Photo of banner: Kwei Quartey)

Wall banner of Vroman’s Bookstore c. 1910 (Photo of banner: Kwei Quartey)

Mr. Vroman loved books and valued giving back to his community, which remains a core principle of the bookstore till t0day.

Arthur C. Vroman, founder of Vroman's Bookstore, in his office around 1900

 Arthur C. Vroman, consummate gentleman and founder of Vroman’s Bookstore, in his office around 1900
(Photo from Historic Pasadena: An Illustrated History, by Ann Scheid, Ann Scheid Lund)

He was born in 1856 in La Salle Illinois. When he moved to Pasadena in 1892, he was hoping that a change in climate would help preserve the health of his infirm wife, Esther. Regrettably, that wasn’t to be the case, and she died two years later. Vroman wanted to remain in Pasadena and he opened the city’s first bookstore on November 15, 1894 in partnership with stationer J.S. Glassock.  At the time, one hotel, a blacksmith shop and a butcher comprised the business district. Mr. Vroman was also a passionate photographer, specializing in scenes of the American West and his portraits of the Hopi Indians and other cultures of the American Southwest. When Mr. Vroman died in 1916, he had built a solid business with loyal employees in whom he had shown deep interest. His friend and associate George F. Howell, became president of the newly incorporated bookstore when Vroman died. Allan David Sheldon, Vroman’s godson, succeeded Howell in 1920. The Sheldons continued to own and run Vroman’s and the bookstore’s present chairman is Joel Sheldon. 

Mr. Vroman’s legacy of philanthropy has continued. The store has supported causes through food drives, holiday gift drives, free HIV testing, bone marrow donor match drives, pet adoption days, and the Vroman’s Gives Back program. Vroman’s Gives Back is a charity program that donates a portion of customers’ purchases to local nonprofits, including public radio stations, arts centers, family services, and programs supporting literacy.

Vroman's Bookstore food drive (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Vroman’s Bookstore food drive
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Vroman’s Bookstore author events

Like other bookstores, Vroman’s holds book discussions and signings, but most bookstores don’t have the luxury of space that Vroman’s has on its second floor for author events.

Vroman's Bookstore event space

Vroman’s Bookstore event space
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Children's Institute attendees attending a panel at Vroman's Bookstore in 2015

Packed Children’s Institute attendees attending a panel at Vroman’s Bookstore in 2015
(Photo: American Booksellers Association)

I’ve signed with Vroman’s for every novel in the Inspector Darko Dawson series, starting with Wife Of The Gods up till the present Death By His Grace.

Reading at Vroman's Bookstore

Reading at Vroman’s Bookstore Oct 14, 2017

Every week the Vroman’s bestsellers are displayed. During the week after an author’s book signing, it’s common for his or her book to hold a high placing on the list, even if short-lived.

Vroman's Bookstore bestsellers (photo: Kwei Quartey)

Vroman’s Bookstore bestsellers
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

The other bestseller display in the store derives from the Los Angeles Times bestseller list.

Los Angeles Times Bestsellers at Vroman's Bookstore (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Los Angeles Times Bestsellers at Vroman’s Bookstore
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Vroman’s treats its local authors very well, but national and international powerhouse writers have flocked to the bookstore too, including Louise Penny (Canada), Jo Nesbø [pronounced “You Nes-buh”](Norway), President Bill Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, Irving Stone, Upton Sinclair, Ray Bradbury, David Sedaris, Salman Rushdie, Walter Mosely, Joan Didion, Barbara Walters, Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Happily for me, a mystery writer, the Mystery section of the store is one of the largest.

Mystery section at Vroman's Bookstore (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Mystery section at Vroman’s Bookstore (Photo: Kwei Quartey)


I’m no financial wizard, but adding diverse merchandise besides books to a bookstore is a smart move, particularly during times in which the paper book is “under attack,” such as when the Kindle e-reader arrived in 2007 and doomsayers predicted the imminent death of the paper book. Clearly, the prediction has proved wrong, thank goodness, but it doesn’t hurt to stock “supportive” merchandise.

Vroman's Bookstore Pens & Stationary

Vroman’s Bookstore Pens & Stationary
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Part-time Vroman's Bookstore employee and actor/producer Michael "Dean" Porter in the gift shop

Part-time Vroman’s Bookstore employee and actor/producer Michael “Dean” Porter in the gift shop
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Vroman’s Bookstore and children

Vroman’s has recognized the importance of investing in children, and it has a large kids’ section.

Kids section at Vroman's Bookstore (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Kids section at Vroman’s Bookstore (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Every Wednesday and Saturday at 10 AM, the bookstore’s own Mr. Steve holds a children’s storytime. The smaller Hastings Ranch store also has a kids’ storytime on Tuesday mornings.

Vroman's Bookstore Mr Steve reading to kids on a Wednesday morning (Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Vroman’s Bookstore Mr. Steve reading to kids on a Wednesday morning
(Photo: Kwei Quartey)

Getting children into reading early is a way to ensure that generations to come will continue to read, which means Vroman’s Bookstore will continue for another 120 years, and 120 after that, which is good news for authors and readers alike.