Volumes of Pleasure, A Gift to Our Community

By Lilly Martinez

October 22, 2023

Ellen Perryess, Christine Ahern, and Gina Pierucci are a few of the lovely ladies that help to successfully run Volumes of Pleasure Books and Gifts in Los Osos, California. They work alongside Kristofer Stehli and Rosie Morris. The book and gift shop was opened in September, 1992 by Carroll Leslie and her partner Barbara Strauss who unfortunately passed away in 2012. 

In an interview with the first three women named, they described their positions at the shop as clerks and store cheerleaders. The majority of these cheerleaders have worked in the same position for over 8 years, however Christine Ahern has been there a whopping 12. Every employee in Volumes of Pleasure gets along wonderfully, seeing themselves as a family. 

While the shop is in a small building, it holds enough character to cover an enormous area. It is enchanting, eclectic, and fun; filled with a large variety of items, such as incense, tarot cards, clothes, stones, and books. It is the perfect stop to find a gift for yourself or someone else.

When it comes to books, Volumes of Pleasure has almost any genre you’re looking for. Due to their space, they’re only able to house a small amount of each genre, holding more fiction and metaphysical books than other kinds. To make all books accessible to the community from the bookshop, upon customers request, any employee would be happy to order a book into the shop for pickup. The customer would have to pay for the price of the book, but not for shipping.

Most of the shop's customers are older, often having visited the shop as young children, and coming back to relive the joy. There are also young parents who bring in their children, introducing them to a welcoming and inclusive environment. Store clerks encourage younger customers, especially high school students to visit and find comfort there.

The group shared that they go “bonkers” when kids or dogs stop by. They’re always open to advice about what young adult readers are interested in, so they can stock the shelves accordingly. Volumes of Pleasure staff members are consistently working to make sure the store is a community hub for all ages. 

The shopkeepers believe it’s important for all community members to feel comforted in the store, sharing, “That is true for LGBT and trans community members as well, this is a place for them to feel loved and accepted”. 

An annual event for Volumes of Pleasure Books and Gifts is their Chinese New Year celebration. They work together with the Cal Poly Lion dancers to host a community celebration in the parking lot. The women joyously reminisced as they described the dancers holding up the dragon, weaving through the tight corners of the shop, magically never knocking anything down.

When asked what role literature has played in their lives, Gina Pierucci was the first to speak up, telling about the 45 years she spent teaching in an English department. “It was my dream to work in a bookstore… I am living the dream,” she chuckled. 

How can we, as community members, help to keep that dream alive for people like Gina? Ellen Perryess shared her thoughts on this, “It’s so important for people to recognize that their individual decisions make such a difference in the world… Every decision you make ripples into the future… If you value little businesses, shop at little businesses”.

To contact Volumes of Pleasure Books and Gifts, located at 1016 Los Osos Valley Road, call +1 (805) 528-5565