November 29, 2009

New York Books Extraordinaire!

So, lets get right to it. New York Bookstores. Just the sound of it makes me purr like a cat (and I don’t necessarily love cats, but I don’t know of any other animals that purr). I can already feel the scent of a stack of newly printed editions of some delicious novel right under my nose. Mm, yes please.

When we enter a bookstore, we usually enter a world of fantasy. We've left the real world outside, and are there to enjoy being surrounded by massive amounts of paper with words printed onto them for as long as we like. Great. There are probably thousands and thousands of stories under the very same roof in a bookstore, and they're waiting to be found by someone like you, who’ll make them come alive, and allow them to jump off the page and right into your living room. Amazing, isn't it?

Here are my favorite book spots in New York, chances are you’ve heard of some of them before:)

McNally Jackson,
52 Prince St. (b/t Lafayette & Mulberry)
This shop has a great location, and it’s one of those smaller places where you can find most current and not so current books you might be looking for. Last time I was there, I bought Barack Obama’s two books, Dreams from my Father and the Audacity of Hope. It was in mid 2009. The guy in the register asked me (jokingly) if I had been in a coma for the last two years. Eh, I’m not American, I answered and laughed, and we started talking about Obama. But after I left I was like, wait. What if I actually had been in a coma. Or something. That could have been really awkward. Anyway, they also have a really nice coffee bar, and very nice staff. If you ever happen to find yourself down on Broadway in rush hour and you panic, get yourself in here for some quiet time.

Barnes & Noble,
Union Square (17th Street)
This place became a sort of haven for me, and I ended up going there at least once a week, but usually more, when I could. The whole store has that kind of vibe, and I think a lot of people go there just to hang out on their own in their anonymousness. I remember being worried that the security guards by the entrance would start recognizing me since I was there so often, and suspect me for theft since I usually didn’t buy anything, just browsed. Nothing ever happened though. Like I mentioned before, they also have great events for free.

Strand Bookstore

12th Street and Broadway.
This is a New York classic, probably with the best general selection in the entire city. Cheaper too. Not as cozy as Barnes or McNally, but I would go here to actually buy the book, not just to look at it. Big selection of used and rare books as well. And the nice canvas totes with different prints are a great souvenir and make good gifts. They have a good website too, to get updates on what they’re up to in there, and find out what’s new in books.

Spoonbill & Sugartown
218 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg
Don’t let the website fool you, it’s a great place! And I’m going to say this: Especially for their selection of postcards and stationary. I know you're not supposed to say that about bookshops and I mean, they have great books too, particularly in photography and art (which is their area), but the non-book stuff is great! I always bought fun NY postcards here to send overseas, and all my quirky notebooks are from there as well. The selection of new novels they have is pretty great too, but you know, not in the same way as the other stuff. They have a store cat too.

Pageant Book & Print Shop

They closed their actual physical shop on E 9th street, but they’re still online. If you’ve seen Hannah and her Sisters by Woody Allen, it’s the bookshop where Michael Caine goes browsing for e.e. cummings. I just had to put it in here! Update: Thanks to Rachel's great comment, we now know that they reopened on 69 East 4th Street!

Biography Bookshop
266 Bleecker Street
What can I say, I love this place. Just like an intimate and cozy bookshop should be, and they don’t only sell biographies. Sadly, this year they’ve had to move location from a different part of Bleecker street that now almost only hosts fashion boutiques… Sad. But at least they’re still running!

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
126 Crosby Street
Bookstore and good cause. There’s a lot you can do to help here, they’re amazing. Housing Works is committed to ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness. They run a bunch of different businesses and projects in these areas, and their bookstore has many events and a great coffee shop. Good place, in other words.

New York Public Library.
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
It’s just classic. You have to check it out if possible, it’s amazing!

Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
Beautiful children's bookstore, it’s kind of magic. It’s really close to Barnes and Noble too, so you can go there on the same book run. They have Storytime on Saturdays at noon, how lovely isn’t that?? Staff sits down with parents and kids and read stories... Wonderful. Kind of like in You’ve Got Mail if you ever saw it? They also teach magic classes, but age limit is 15… Oh, well.

So, yeah, that was it for now… For a city like New York there are obviously tons and tons of little and big bookshops, this was only my little selection for this time. I also realized that it’s a very Goop-ish post, but what can I do? It’s what came out! And I kind of like Goop, most of the time.
Please comment and share your book favorites around the world! I would love to hear them. ♥

Pictures: MCNALLYstrandspoonbillbiographyhousingbooks of wonderbarnespageanthannahhannah Whitaker


The Wanderers' Daughter said...

OH,me too! I love (and desperately miss) NY bookstores. NEed to make a point of stopping by Books of Wonder when we visit in January...thanks for reminding me! I never had kids when I lived in NY. It's a whole new world now!

Melissa Blake said...

Hi there -- thanks so much for visiting my blog!

erik heywood said...

Hi there! I love this post. Thanks for your nice comment on my blog. Have you seen my other blog? I think you may like it.

Lauren said...

I love big musty old bookstores, and local ones are the best!

Her name was Lola said...

What a marvelous post. I need to visit books of wonder {if only to feel like I'm living in a Nora Ephron film for a short while!}


Rachel said...

Pageant is open again on East 4th!

Hermione said...

Thanks for your lovely comments!

The Wanderer's Daughter, your welcome! I can't wait to go there with my own kids they day I have them:) I can imagine it being a completely different life.. Both great!

Melissa, your welcome!

Erik, hi, and thanks! I did see your other blog, they're both on my blogroll, great work.

Lauren, I agree! That's why it's so important to support them too...

Lola, thanks! I know, it's a really Nora Ephron-moment waiting to happen.. Love that place.

And lastly but not least, Rachel, thank you so much! I've updated the post now with their new address!

pennycones said...

Wow. My idea of heaven. My solo days of book shopping seem to be limited now and I often have one or both of my children with me. I do enjoy the childrens sections just as much though :)

Anonymous said...

I am a book devourer! Love the list.

If you ever get to Portland, Oregon (not my city, but my very favorite bookstore is there), you simply must visit Powells. youcan check them out online at

They buy and sell and they have floors of rows and rows of books. I could neevr spend enough time in the place.

Thanks for following my blog. I have returned the favor :)

Sum said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I adore your blog! It's so cute! :) I am dying to go to all of these bookstores.

TheCluelessCrafter said...

Perfectly edited selection; I have been to most and find they all have different qualities that bring me back.

I had no idea about a Housing Works book store, though. I am a fan of theirs, so I should have known. Oops, we can't all be in the know, I guess;-)

Hermione said...

The Things We Carried: Thanks so much! I checked out Powells online, they look really interesting and worth spending some time in. Definitely will keep that in my mental notebook! I've always wanted to go to Portland too, so that's perfect:)

Sum, your welcome and thank you too! They're all worth a visit, I guarantee:)

Clueless Crafter: Thanks so much, that's such a compliment! Yeah, the Housing Works store is located a bit tricky, but def worth the effort.

Amber said...

Hi! Yes it is from your blog, I hope you don't mind :) I frell in love with it when I saw it, and I made sure I added who it was from on my post!

Amy said...

These all look great. I am hoping to go back to NYC for a few days next week. I will have to try to check a few out. I like you photos of the city too. Your right you could live there a life time and not see everything.

Thanks so much for visiting No. 15 and for your lovely comment.

Hermione said...

Amber: Obviously no worries!! I'm honored!

Amy: You're so welcome, and thanks for a lovely comment! Hope you get a chance to see at least one of them on your visit.

melange muse said...

I LOVE Housing Works! I used to go there all the time!

taryn said...

Your blog is absolutely charming! Thank you for your comment on mine. I recently discovered Eikoh Hosoe and was floored! Amazing.

The NY public library on 6th avenue and 10th street is so magical. In a historic building surrounded by a beautiful little garden. I practically grew up in it and for a year as an adult had the privilege of living directly down the block. You should check it out.

Look forward to reading more!


Hermione said...

Taryn, thanks so much for visiting! And thanks also for adding to the list, truly appreciate it! I can't believe I've missed that library, it sounds absolutely magical.. Lucky you to have known it so long! I will def go there when I get a chance next time.

And yes, Eikoh Hosoe is pretty amazing..


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