Summer beach reads, broody thrillers, engrossing historical fiction, no matter what your favorite reads are Catalina Island is the ideal spot to crack the spine on a good book. Whether you prefer to read with your toes in the sand or a drink in your hand – or both – reading on Catalina Island is a match made in book lovers’ heaven.
Catalina Island reads – free and low-cost options
Catalina Island offers several places where you can find good books – either for low-cost, no-cost or trade.
The Avalon Public Library, a branch of the Los Angeles County Library system, underwent an extensive renovation in 2019 that expanded the facility significantly. The library rents books to residents and visitors, but also offers DVDs, CDs, public computers and free wi-fi. A collection of Catalina Island books – many out of print and available nowhere else – is available. While the library is closed for renovation, an annex is open on Metropole Avenue.
Two’s Company of Avalon, 519 Crescent Avenue: This local shop offers a well-stocked bookshelf in the back of the store where you’ll find current books for just $2, with proceeds benefiting veterans’ organizations.
High Tide Traders, 415 Crescent Avenue: Bring a book to trade at High Tide Traders, which offers a free book swap toward the back of the store.
US Bank, 303 Crescent Avenue: Another free book swap can be found near the stairs in the lobby of US Bank, where you’ll also find free magazines.
Avalon Library: Friends of the Avalon Library offers free books outside of the library, located at 210 Sumner Avenue, while the library is being renovated. Once the renovation is complete, used hardcover books will be $2 with proceeds benefiting the programs at the library.
White Buffalo Gift Shop, 210 Metropole Avenue: The local thrift store supports the Catalina Island Medical Center and offers a used book section, with books $2 or less. It’s located across the street from the Catalina Island Museum.
Two Harbors: If you are looking for something new to read at the island’s West End, there’s a book swap located inside the laundry. This book swap is also supported by the Friends of the Avalon Library, which regularly supplements the books on offer.
Finding Catalina Island in a book
Catalina Island has also found its way onto the pages of many books, ranging from high-profile thrillers to personal travelogues. Here’s just a few of the many places you can discover Catalina Island in the pages of a book.
High-profile thrillers. Stuart Woods and Michael Connelly have both utilized the island in their popular series. Swimming to Catalina features Woods’s cop turned attorney Stone Barrington. Connelly’s fictional FBI agent Terry McCaleb – played by Clint Eastwood in the movie adaption of Blood Work – was raised on Catalina Island and the island features in several of his books, most prominently in A Darkness More Than Night.
Non-fiction books. Looking to learn more about Catalina Island? Several guidebooks have been written about the island, including dive guides, natural history guides, ghost story collections, pottery guides and, of course, travel guides. Wild Catalina, which features renowned photography, is the definitive guide to the island’s natural history. Catalina Island, available at Latitude 33 and Buoys & Gulls, will make the perfect addition to the coffee table of anyone who loves Catalina Island. Between Two Harbors, available on Amazon, is a series of stories from long-time Two Harbors Harbormaster Doug Oudin. Santa Catalina Island, Its Magic, People and History by William White, explores the island’s engrossing history and is available at the Catalina Island Museum.
Book shopping on the island
Located at 217 Metropole Avenue, the Catalina Island Museum’s gift store offers books about Catalina tile, the Chicago Cubs’ decades of spring training on the island as well as a number of Catalina Island art and history books.
DC-3 Gifts & Grill at Catalina Island’s Airport in the Sky, located in the interior of the island, features a number of books, as well as clothing and souvenirs.
The Catalina Island Conservancy’s Trailhead Center, at 708 Crescent Avenue, offers books on natural history.
Book lovers looking for new releases will find them at Sugarloaf Books and Shades of Catalina, 403 Crescent Avenue.