New YA-Focused Bookstore Hoping To Spark Imagination And Inspire Connections

Annabelle’s Book Club founder Annabelle Chang | Image by Stephanie Girard

There’s nothing that we love more than curling up with a good book and transporting our imaginations into another world, another story, another character. While book clubs and even the act of reading a physical book may seem antiquated to some given the plethora of digital options available, there are some invaluable aspects to meeting in person and discussing your latest book rec.

If there is one young woman who knows the power of a good book and story to connect people, it is Los Angeles native Annabelle Chang. She is not only an avid reader, but is the founder of Annabelle’s Book Club LA, a first-of-its-kind YA-focused bookstore that aims to spark imagination, inspire human connection, and bring joy to people of all ages.

Its Studio City, CA location stands out with a hot pink facade and offers book lovers a wide selection of YA, general interest titles, art & coffee table books, plus book-themed inspired merchandise 16-year-old owner Annabelle Chang designs and sells at the store and online.​

The Los Angeles native fell in love with books at an early age and reads 6-8 per month. Her mother, best-selling author Amanda Brown wrote the novel ‘Legally Blonde’ which was turned into the cult favorite film and Broadway musical of the same name nurtured Annabelle’s appreciation of literature.

As it turns out, reading to your kids and encouraging them to love books is a generational thing, and we had the chance to speak with Annabelle about her bookstore, the book club, and some YA recommendations and authors you need to have on your list right now!

Annabelle’s Book Club | Image by Jeremy Wetmore Spann

Where did your love of books and reading first begin? 

I come from a family of book lovers, and I really credit my mom with my early love of reading. When I was little, my favorite part of the day was when she would read to my sisters and me. Some of my favorite early picture books included ‘The Donut Chef’, ‘Pinkalicious’, ‘Bark’, ‘George’, and ‘Pretzel’. When I started to read on my own around age six, I loved ‘The Boxcar Children’ by Gertrude Chandler Warner and the ‘Rainbow Magic’ series by Daisy Meadows. 

How did you come up with the idea for Annabelle’s Book Club LA? 

Growing up, bookstores were my favorite places, and I’ve always been a huge reader. When the pandemic hit, I received so many requests for book recommendations that I decided to create an Instagram account and blog to share my favorite YA reads. After seeing the positive response to the novels I featured, I expanded my blog to include interviews with authors and bookstore owners. I started selling some of my favorite YA books online, and after repeatedly selling out of titles, I eventually transitioned to selling books and merchandise at in-person pop-up events like the L.A. Times Festival of Books.

After seeing how excited people were about the books I was featuring, I started to think about creating a store where my book curation would be more permanent. As I researched and visited bookstores in L.A. and across the country, I realized that there were no YA-focused ones, and I wanted to fill that gap in the market. 

Annabelle’s Book Club | Image by Jeremy Wetmore Spann

You come from literary royalty – your mom is the author of the book ‘Legally Blonde’ which was turned into hit films and a Broadway show! How has her career path inspired you on yours?

I think that my mom’s career path inspired me to take a risk and realize my vision. My mom left Stanford Law School to write ‘Legally Blonde’ because she had a passion for writing. She decided to take the chance to do something creative that she believed in, and that has inspired me throughout this whole process. 

What are some of your favorite books featured in the store right now? 

In the store, I have a wall dedicated to my favorite books that I am constantly updating. Some recent additions include ‘Going Dark’ by Melissa de la Cruz, ‘I’ll Give You the Sun’ by Jandy Nelson, and ‘The Grace Year’ by Kim Liggett. Another book I am especially excited about is ‘Getting Clean with Stevie Green’ by Swan Huntley. It is my first book club pick! 

Who are your fave authors to read, or authors we should be keeping on our radar? 

I have so many! Currently, some of my favorite authors are Ruta Sepetys, Jennifer Niven, Gabrielle Zevin, Leigh Bardugo, and Ruth Ozeki. I highly recommend all of their books. 

Annabelle’s Book Club | Image by Jeremy Wetmore Spann

What can customers find when they enter your fabulously pink store in Los Angeles? 

I hope that when people enter the store, they find new authors to fall in love with, the perfect gift to give for any occasion, and something that will make them laugh. I hope all of our customers leave with a special memory of the time they spent in the store. 

What do you love most about storytelling? 

There are many forms of storytelling, and I admire them all. As far as written storytelling, there are times that I gravitate toward stories that are deep and meaningful and times when I just want to be entertained. Whatever I am reading, my favorite part of storytelling is the minute a story captures my heart and I am invested in the outcome of the characters. 

What are your favorite genres to read? 

Although I love all genres, the one I read most often is probably YA fiction. Recently, I’ve also been reading a lot of mysteries and historical fiction books. 

Annabelle’s Book Club | Image by Jeremy Wetmore Spann

Your book club isn’t just about book recs, it’s also about creating connections. Can you tell us more about this?

An empowering, inclusive, and fun sense of community has always been central to my vision for Annabelle’s Book Club. I am thrilled to see how excited the community is to have an independent bookstore in the area. Authors are my heroes, and seeing them properly celebrated, as well as helping connect authors and readers, is incredibly gratifying. 

What has been some of the best feedback you’ve received so far about Annabelle’s Book Club LA? 

The best feedback we have received is the customer loyalty we have developed in such a short period of time. Our customers are our greatest ambassadors, and they have been incredibly generous by spreading the word about the store in Studio City, CA and beyond. They know we are a small business and go out of their way to support us. 

What is your vision for the book club and store in 5 and 10 years? 

When I think about 5 to 10 years from now, I hope that whatever direction my business has grown in, I can look back and be proud of how I got there. I hope that I will have created a culture that celebrates diverse voices and inclusivity. I hope that we have enough success that we will be able to serve as a platform for causes we believe in. Most importantly, I hope that we will have brought joy, laughter, and great books into the lives of people of all ages. 

Where can readers follow you on social media? 

@annabellesbookclubla on Instagram and TikTok

Annabelle’s Book Club | Image by Jeremy Wetmore Spann

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