In Loving Ashe, Riley Eames is manager of the Library Cafe, a coffee shop in Chelsea that carries used books that patrons can borrow, with the current inventory mostly from the patrons themselves. The idea for the Library is from a Redondo Beach, California coffeeshop called the Coffee Cartel. It’s in the Riviera Village and has really comfy couches ala Friends, an aquarium, lots of seating inside and outside where you usually see locals sit and catch a few rays while enjoying their cuppa joe, and of course those rows of book shelves along the north wall.
I’ve been coming to this place for years (my first-ever massage studio was just above it!), and wouldn’t you know it, every time I tell myself to take pictures, I never do because I get so distracted by the books. It’s like treasure hunt to see what new-to-me book I’m going to discover next, browse through the pages, and force myself to return back on the shelves. And just like at the Library, there is no order to the way the books are arranged on the shelves at all.
If I’m not looking for books, I’m also people-watching even though there’s free Wi-Fi. Some nights they have music and also poetry readings. Sometimes I see people play a game of checkers or cards – that’s if they’re not so into their smart phones or their laptops writing their next novel. It’s also a great place to meet someone new — like after those email exchanges with a certain someone from a matchmaking website.
The Coffee Cartel has been around since 1992, and is a local favorite, and most of all, a small business with a lot of much charm. Many local writers have penned their novels at the Coffee Cartel and the next time I go back there for my usual caffe mocha, I’ll make sure to take pictures of every thing, even the coat of armor standing guard.
It’s truly a wonderful place and one that has inspired not just Loving Ashe, but another book that I wrote two years ago, called Finding Skye (before I wrote Finding Sam). In the meantime, I’ve snaffled a few pictures of the Coffee Cartel from foursquare so you can see what it looks like inside.
Oh, and if you haven’t read Loving Ashe yet, you can purchase your copy here.