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The Short Version: If you’re a bibliophile living near Pasadena, California, Vroman’s Bookstore offers an opportunity to connect with like-minded people and chat about the topics that matter most to you. From book club meetups to writing workshops and social advocacy programs, the store’s events are great ways to get together and share passions with others. Vroman’s operates with a community-first philosophy, donating portions of every sale to local charitable organizations. This gives patrons a sense of pride knowing their purchases can help change lives. At Vroman’s, sparking stimulating conversations while contributing to the local good has never been easier. That’s why there’s no shortage of love stories and friendships that began at the bookstore, and Vroman’s wants to add yours to the list.
Phil and Susan were both single and interested in traveling to Southeast Asia when they attended a travel presentation on Indonesia at Vroman’s Bookstore. Just like in the movies, they noticed each other across the room, and, once the talk was over, they chatted over a few books and made a date for coffee. That was more than 23 years ago, and they’re still going strong.
If you’ve looked everywhere for someone you truly connect with but haven’t tried the shelves of Vroman’s, maybe you should pop in and see what this more-than-just-a-bookstore can offer. Whether it’s book clubs, writing programs, or roundtables on civics, Vroman’s events have a rich history of connecting people with shared interests in the Pasadena area. And the store would love to add your love story to the ever-growing list of people who’ve found a match there.
While fictional romances are fun, nonfiction can sometimes be better. Vroman’s has been a key player in more romances than just Phil and Susan’s. Many others have either met a future spouse around the piles of books or have strengthened their connection with their partner at one of Vroman’s many social engagements.
Natalie was in a happy relationship, but her boyfriend didn’t share her interest in books. A huge Jennifer Weiner fan, she planned to drive to Vroman’s solo since no one was really keen to go.
Her boyfriend didn’t want her to drive alone, so he offered to tag along. Natalie knew his interests were nature and surfing and thought he’d be bored, so she told him he was off the hook. But he insisted on accompanying her.
He stood in line with Natalie to get her book signed and even took her picture with the author and later posted it on Facebook. He sat through the entire reading, totally interested and not fidgeting as she had expected. Stunned, Natalie asked him why.
“I was happy to see you happy and excited,” he said.
At that moment, Natalie knew she’d marry him — and she did two years later. The Jennifer Weiner event allowed Natalie to see another side of the man she loved, and it led to their happily ever after.
Natalie and her boyfriend’s, as well as Phil and Susan’s, stories are just two of the many tales of love being ignited at Vroman’s. In fact, the bookstore has dedicated a good chunk of its Tumblr feed and a blog series to broadcasting customer love stories to the world.
Whether your interests include fiction, nonfiction, writing, or civics, there’s something for everyone at Vroman’s.
“We host more than 400 events each year,” said Jennifer Ramos, Vroman’s Promotional Director. “They include but aren’t limited to author events, kids’ storytime and crafts, trivia nights, writing classes, and special events and series such as Pecha Kucha evenings and Democracy Wise.”
Jennifer told us Vroman’s in-store book clubs meet once a month and are open to everyone. The store also periodically hosts gatherings to talk with featured authors and hear how they crafted their works.
With one look at Vroman’s chocked-full events calendar, you’ll see the many reasons to visit the store. If you and your significant other are obsessed with Prince, stop in for Mayte Garcia’s book signing and talk about her former husband. You can also head in for Story Time and visit with the Taco Dragon. And the bookstore’s trivia nights offer prime opportunities to meet other fact-loving history buffs.
Vroman’s offers book clubs right on the premises that cover a range of topics, including Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the later novels of Sinclair Lewis, just to name a couple. You can find your page-turning tribe by going in solo, or you can initiate your friends or partner into the joy of reading by bringing them along.
If you can’t find a club that fits your unique reading style, Vroman’s will let you start your own and invite other customers to join in. Starting your own club is a great way to celebrate your love of, say, fantasy fiction. Who knows — maybe your future mate has been waiting to join a Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fantasy Books Club.
If you’re tired of the typical Netflix and take-out date night every Tuesday, you can try something new at Vroman’s. The store offers writing workshops to inspire the author inside you and your soon-to-be writing partner.
There’s a class for every level. For those who have stories to tell but just can’t seem to get them down on paper, Vroman’s Discovering Your Story class will help silence your inner critic and get words out. It’s taught by award-winning author Barbara Abercrombie, and classes fill up fast.
If you want to refine your writing techniques and write a steamy romance novel for your partner, the store’s Fiction as an Experiment workshop may be the perfect fit. This class develops your voice and style as a writer, and encourages experimentation.
Vroman’s goes beyond just reading about change — it helps make it happen with its Democracy Wise Speaker Series. All speakers focus on some aspect of democracy and how if affects our local communities and country as a whole.
Take, for instance, Navigating Media. This speaking engagement revolves around the truth in media and how to discern what’s real and what isn’t. It also promotes the all-too-important conversation about what the media’s role should be in a democracy.
Attendees can hear speakers Carmen Rios and Lauren Young, from Ms. Magazine, and Thomas Hollihan, USC Annenberg School Professor of Communications, talk about the political landscape. The event is an opportunity to strike up a conversation with another single curious about how the news media should function in society.
If you take your freedom of speech seriously, you’ll enjoy discussing it with others at the store’s civil liberties event featuring members of the ACLU. Here, the panel will educate the crowd on what a police or government officer can ask of you and what they cannot. Look forward to a spirited conversation about what individual rights are protected by the government and which ones aren’t.
Vroman’s doesn’t stop at providing quality literature, a speakers series, book clubs, and more than 400 events per year for its community. The store also donates a portion of every sale to a local charitable organization in the city through its Vroman’s Gives Back program.
Jennifer told us just how successful the program has been and the impact it has had on the local area.
“Vroman’s Gives Back is an incredible program designed to donate a portion of our customers’ purchases to the organization of their choosing,” she said. “To date, we’ve donated more than $655,000 to these Pasadena-area organizations through the program.”
Customers can donate to any one of 21 organizations, including the Pasadena Arts Council, Habitat for Humanity, and the Union Station Homeless Services.
As much as it gives to the local community in funds and support, it gives to the lives of its customers, too. Just ask Bonnie and Mario who’ve been together for over two years and who, like Phil and Susan, visit Vroman’s frequently as a couple to discover the many treasures it holds.
“It’s a romantic stop for a welcome pensive mood and mental collaboration,” Bonnie said. “Good communication and conversation are important to any relationship. Vroman’s gives us this opportunity to browse, think, and to finally come together again with new ideas and adventures. Books are an amazing way to enlighten any relationship.”