Literature and booze are a classic combo (just ask, say, Oscar Wilde, or Ernest Hemingway), and while pouring a nice glass of Scotch and settling onto the tufted leather couch in our home reading room will always be a pleasant way to spend an evening, sometimes you want to take your book out on the town. As any introvert knows, there is a perfect balance that can be struck between being around other people while still mostly keeping to oneself. This would be more easily achieved if libraries would simply install the wine counters we’ve been requesting for years, but until they take us up on that million-dollar idea we’ll be cozying up in low-key local bars where showing up with Jane Austen as your date for the night is a totally respectable choice.
416 West 8th Street, Los Angeles
The Hemingway vibes are particularly strong at this bar in the Freehand Hotel, styled with vintagey, vaguely-Cuban decor. There are tons of chairs and couches, including a few right in the front windows of the 1924 Downtown tower, perfect for adding some people-watching to your book-reading. The menu is all tea-inspired, which seems a bit literary in itself.
What to Read Here: To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
814 Broadway, Santa Monica
The doors open at 8 a.m. and the wine (and coffee, and food) flows until midnight or later, meaning you can find a perch for you and your tome at any time of day. A long wrap-around couch in this sunny, open-air-fronted bar seems particularly inviting for the purpose. (A second location of Bodega in Pasadena has more limited hours, but we wouldn’t rule it out as a reading destination as well.)
What to Read Here: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
2. Idle Hour
4842 North Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood
You won’t find too many places at the center of the Venn Diagram of wanting to sit outside with your book on a sunny afternoon and wanting to have a cocktail in your hand, but Idle Hour falls right in the middle, and that is wonderful. The large back patio offers plenty of space to get lost in your novel, and if you get hungry there’s Carolina-style barbecue to snack on.
What to Read Here: Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
216 Alameda Street, Los Angeles
Going the opposite direction from snug, plush little nooks, Angel City offers an airplane-hanger-sized open space where you can easily find a spot to sit with your pint of house-brewed beer (16 different varieties are currently on offer). It’s brightly-lit, so you won’t have to worry about straining your eyes. And they’re dog-friendly, should you wish to bring your best friend outside of a book.
What to Read Here: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
1412 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles
A hybrid coffee shop-café-bar, The Semi-Tropic has something for you at any time of day. You will never be the only person minding their own business, be it laptop-ing, writing or reading, thanks to decent lighting, comfortable places to sit, and casual ambience.
What to Read Here: The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin
5125 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
This chill-and-charming neighborhood wine bar has all the makings of a reader’s favorite spot. Lots of spots to sit, decent light, quiet vibes, and a list full of intriguing sips from around the world. Fridays through Sundays they open at 2 p.m., making it a perfect destination for an afternoon glass of orange wine and a few chapters of your current novel.
What to Read Here: A Good Year by Peter Mayle
10929 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles
We couldn’t make this list without including the only West L.A. bar we know of that can literally boast its own library. Dark wood, shelves lined with vintage tomes, and that’s just one of the snug rooms you’ll find at this decidedly Old World-inspired drinking den. Fireplaces, chesterfield sofas, velvet drapes—if you’re not reading something Victorian up in here, you’re probably doing it wrong.
What to Read Here: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë