Site Seen: D.G. Wills Books

There is something to be said for a bookstore with an old-fashioned fire hose by the register and an old gas pump in the middle of the room. Clearly, this is no ordinary store. There is no “bestseller” display in the center, nor catchy signs designed to lure bargain-hunters in to throw money at great deals. Yet it’s hard not to be drawn inside by the shelves overstuffed with old classics and new favorites, antiques placed throughout the store and walls lined with photographs of the many famous writers and poets who have visited. Mere seconds spent inside will confirm that D.G. Wills Books is truly a booklover’s dream come true.

Photos By Greg Dale/Guardian

Here, old leather-bound books with yellowing pages and faded gold letters down their spines sit beside new paperbacks with crisp white pages — a testament to the continuity and timelessness of literature. Known for its collection of old-fashioned and scholarly books, D.G. Wills has become an oasis for local intellectuals and anyone with a sense of curiosity or a taste for the unusual.

As the pictures on the walls confirm, countless famous writers, artists and professors have visited or spoken at the store. Although on normal days the store may appear to be cozily cramped, with some minor rearrangements, it has actually accommodated crowds approaching 500 people. (Allen Ginsberg was its largest success, with a crowd that spilled out the front doors and onto the street.)

The store is so charming, in fact, that Françoise Gilot — an artist who lived with Pablo Picasso for a number of years — used to frequent it because it reminded her of Paris. A photograph of her comfortably sitting in the store, taken by the Parisian edition of Vogue, is proudly displayed in the center of the room alongside photographs taken of famous actors, Nobel Prize winners and best-selling authors who have also visited.

The store is the perfect place to spend a lazy day or to begin the search for an uncommon or unusual book. Overstuffed shelves, oriental carpeting and classical music create the perfect atmosphere for anyone with an inclination to thumb through Proust’s novels, peruse Newton’s writings or begin reading Persian poetry (translated, or not). A welcome break from the chains of bookstores to which we have grown so accustomed, D.G. Wills is more of an experience than a store.

D.G. Wills Books

7461 Girard Ave.

La Jolla, CA 92037

(858) 456-1800