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SGV 021: BIPOC Library Flowers at El Monte’s Valley Mall

Chris Greenspon July 14, 2022 189 5

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SGV Weekly
SGV 021: BIPOC Library Flowers at El Monte’s Valley Mall

Matilija Lending Library sits in an alleyway sized room that used to house a shoe repair shop on Lexington Avenue at the Valley Mall. That works in its favor though; it’s like your favorite aisle at the library went on Pimp My Ride! Said ride was pimped by the shop’s founders, Amy Wong and Andrew Yip.

Cushioned with benches and armchairs, the brightly colored hall of books feels like your woke Grandma’s living room. Cringe if you must at that description, but once you sit down with an eye-catching novel (and try to covertly open your chips INSIDE your backpack) you’ll realize the power this place has to expand consciousness in the San Gabriel Valley.

It’s filled wall to wall with stories and ideas that are shut out of the American mainstream, and way more interesting. If you’ve never read Viet Thanh Nguyen, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Cherrie Moraga, Luis Rodriguez… here they are, all in one place! No need to sift through thousands of Danielle Steel paperbacks to get to them either.

In a time where we’re blitzed with shreds of ideas and narratives on social media, it’s a life-affirming experience to read a fucking book. Take the time this week to visit Matilija during their open hours and immerse yourself in something thought provoking… Or just ask if they have any manga. It’s free, but donations are always welcome.

Special thanks to Daniel Ruiz-Camacho and La Puente Mutual Aid for sharing their photos of the grand opening of Matilija, and to Amy and Andrew for sharing photos of the shop taken by Jasmyn Bagonghasa.

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Chris Greenspon

Radio journalist from La Puente, CA ... SGV Reporter for Streetsblog ... Past lives in LA news radio

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