An Ode to Martha’s Bookstore

(Let me start by saying that I should have ‘pre-loaded’ each category on the blog with a couple of posts before launching, but I didn’t, so I apologize if you get quite a few posts in the next few days loading up your inbox.  I hope you’ll come back here at your leisure and read any or all that interest you)

 I’ve had the unenviable task of moving three times in the last three years.  So, this last move was back to Balboa Island on my final leg of a full-circle journey back to where I started.  I had to find a place pretty quickly and landed a little studio (240 sf + kitchen/bath) above the book store that is owned by my friend & teammate, Kathy & her sister, Stephanie.  So, I move in and get settled and figure it’ll be fine for 10 months.  The kitchen is adorable…all beachy aqua and the oven looks like an easy bake cute!  But, let’s face it, it’s really small!

Small, yes, but I live on Balboa Island and that, in itself, is awesome…but living above a book store has been an unexpected, magical bonus.  Martha’s Bookstore was opened by these two sisters 25 years ago and named after their mom, Martha Smock, who had a love of books and reading, had six books published and edited Daily Word magazine for 35 years.  You walk through a quaint brick courtyard to get to the entrance of their adorable storefront.  There are greeting cards, puzzles, & a ton of books.  The inventory has changed over the years…there was that beanie baby craze back in the 90’s…but the focus has always been on the books.  Every day around 10 am they turn on classical music on their outside speakers and I get to enjoy it all day.  Right now they’re playing Christmas music and I love it! Sometimes it just feels like I’m on a movie set.  Whether I’m reading a favorite book or just sitting at the computer, it’s kind of dreamlike to have the classical music playing in the background.  When you walk in you’re asked “would you like some tea or chardonnay?”…who does that anymore…awesome!  Around 5:00 the amazing smell of garlic starts wafting in from Amelia’s, a cute Italian restaurant across the street, and I know it’s just about closing time.


Kathy & Stephanie decided a couple of months ago that it was time to sell the store.  It has been purchased and the new owners will maintain it as a bookstore, albeit exclusively for children’s books, I think.  Come down before November 30th for incredible discounts before it briefly closes for renovations.  I just hope the new owners keep the classical music, tea & chardonnay…and retain the charm that everyone who stops by relishes and what makes this place so special.  I’ve renamed my place the “bookstore tree house.”


You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!


  1. Such a lovely sentiment to Martha’s Bookstore. “She” will be missed. I say she because Martha’s always felt like a she with her welcoming warmth and genuine offer of a cup of tea or a glass of Chardonnay. Wishing Kathy and Stephanie joy in their next chapter.

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