Laurel Bookstore, located at 4100 MacArthur Blvd in the Laurel District has been a neighborhood fixture since 2001, offering a fine selection of books and a busy calendar of literary art events.
“Oakland has a lot of local artists and performers,” Strauss relayed. “I am glad they are getting more attention with the First Fridays and Art Murmurs. When I think about Literary Arts, I feel we have a responsibility to have local authors on the shelves and in the store for readings so our local community can experience the richness that is Oakland.”
Stepping into Laurel Bookstore, visitors are greeted with cozy, well-lighted aisles lined with works by local and established authors. Patrons are multicultural and span the generations. A festive children’s section converts into a small performance area during readings with the help of folding chairs and hosts audiences of about thirty people.
“When we have events we like to go local,” she said. “Local snacks, local people, local everything. I like to support local business because in doing so, we create community.” When Laurel hosted a Valentine’s reading by lesbian romance authors Karin Kallmaker and Mary Griggs, the chocolates and the wines served were local, provided by Barlovento Chocolate and Roland Rosario wines.
Upcoming events include:
- 6pm April 4, 2013 reading by Terry Bison, author of “Any Day Now.”
- 6pm April 13, 2013 reading Ruben Llamas, author of "Eye from the Edge"
- 6pm April 27, 2013 LGBT reading night (authors TBA)
- 6pm May 3, 2013 reading by Leonore Weiss, author of "Cutting Down the Last Tree"
- 6pm May 11, 2013 reading by Trystan T. Cotton, author of “Hung Jury”
“We want to reflect the community we live in and serve,” said Strauss. “Like Oakland itself, we have a diverse neighborhood. We serve all of Oakland, not just the Laurel.” These events are free and open to the public.
Last year the neighborhood paper the MacArthur Metro went under, and a FoodMaxx outlet replaced the local Lucky’s. A cheery Laurel District Association mural decorates the sides of the bookstore, exuding the festive spirit of the Laurel. Across the street, but its picture windows look upon the sober exterior of FoodMaxx, embodiment of corporate warehouse efficiency. The two stores gaze across at one another, each epitomizing the tension between Spartan economy and creative community, a battle for the very heart of Oakland.