More Bookish Than You

In 2003, just before she earned her undergraduate degree in journalism from Cal State Long Beach, Sé Reed decided to open a used-book store with friend Shea Gauer. It was time, after all: A self-confessed “bookaholic,” Reed had spent years slaving in commercial bookstores and obsessively collecting tomes on the side. She now realized she had a problem. “I knew that if I didn’t have some access to a bookstore 24/7, I was going to go broke buying books—or work at Barnes N Noble all my life. I had piles of books in the living room and boxes in my car, and I just kept getting more. It was taking over my roommates’ lives, and that was not okay.”

Reed and Gauer took out a small business loan, and on the day the only other used-book store in town closed, {open} was born (2226 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, 562-499-6736; But selling used books is no cash cow, and Reed’s day job (which she does at night) is developing websites. But while she’s technologically savvy, don’t try getting her to ebook any time soon. “The thing about books is that once you have the book, the words on the page can’t be changed,” she says. “Even if there’s a new edition, that book says what it says, and the only way you can get rid of what it says is to destroy it. With used books, you might even be holding a book that someone else read in the 1800s—and it’s the exact same book, the exact same words. With ebooks, the edition can be altered on your Kindle or iPad, and the text changes before your very eyes! Then you go to look something up and are like, ‘Oh, I guess I just read that wrong.’So1984.”

{open} isn’t just a safe house for antiquated and small-press books; its calendar is routinely filled with local indie-music events and art exhibits. Reed even dabbles as a singer/songwriter in her sister Alicia Murphy’s band. And she apparently plays a mean tambourine.



1. Coast.
“Whenever possible, take PCH.”

2. Plan Ahead.
“Do not go to the John Wayne Airport with an almost-empty gas tank and drive around the loop a bunch of times, waiting for your friends, and then turn right on your way out of the airport, thinking there will probably be a gas station there. Because there won’t be. For miles.” 18601 Airport Way, Santa Ana;


3. Delight In Magical Mist.
The 73 is way faster than the other way. And sometimes, a trippy fog curls up over the hills from Laguna. Makes it totally worth the $4.50 every once in a while—especially at sunset.”

4. Develop a Crack Addiction.
“The incredibly creamy-spicy salsa at Long Beach’s Lola’s Mexican Cuisine is completely addictive—in fact, locals refer to it as ‘green crack.’ Oh, and it’s free with your chips . . .” 2030 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 343-5506;


5. Know Thy 405.
“There is always traffic on the 405 by the Wilmington mall. It seems to have no relation to direction, time of day or the number of cars on the road. It is an unexplained phenomenon, like the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz.”

6. Belly-Dance.
“One of Irvine’s redeeming qualities is Caspian Restaurant. Ignore the décor. The Persian food is remarkably delicious, and for some reason, it’s awesome to have belly dancers shaking their hips at you while you eat. Don’t forget dollar bills.” 14100 Culver Dr., Irvine, (949) 651-8454;

7. Be Entertained By Monuments.
“That glowing round thing in the sky of the OC Great Park isn’t the moon or a UFO. It’s the helium balloon we got in exchange for letting Lennar build all over the El Toro military base. You can ride in it. It goes . . . up.” Marine Way and Sand Canyon, Irvine, (866) 829-3829;


8. Visit Nature.
“When you’re feeling the effects of Excessive Stucco Disorder, you can lose yourself at one of the land preserves like Oak Canyon in Anaheim Hills or the Dana Point Headlands Preserve.” Oak Canyon Nature Center, 6700 E Walnut Canyon Rd., Anaheim, (714) 998-8380; Dana Point Headlands Preserve, 34385 Dana Strand Rd., Dana Point.


9. Get Grass Stains.
“If you have a penchant for rolling down hills, you must go to the Muckenthaler Cultural Center. The hill there is the granddaddy of rollable grassy hills and beats out the La Brea Tar Pits’ grassy hill, hands down.” 1201 W Malvern Ave., Fullerton, (714) 738-6595;


10. Adapt.
Reed may live in Long Beach, but she loves OC just the same. “Yes, Long Beach is technically in LA County, but we totally go both ways.”

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