November 28, 2009

New York City of Books

If America runs on Dunkin’s, New York City runs on books. This city reads. That’s how people make time pass, specially while riding the subway. And lets face it, people ride the subway a lot in NY. It doesn’t matter if it’s Kafka or Danielle Steel, people read, and it’s great.

New York has amazing bookstores. From big chains to small independent dealers. The small ones are not always one step away from closing down due to lack of customers (which is unfortunately the case in many places). Many of them are even crowded with buyers, browsers, constantly hosting book signings and poetry readings.
If you for instance go to Barnes & Noble by Union Square often enough, you'll have a chance to in a short time span hear two or three world famous writers read from their latest work, and maybe catch a song and a signature from music artists like Regina Spektor and Rufus Wainwright presenting their latest albums. All for free.

Regina Spektor at Barnes and Noble in August 2009.

Needless to say, it’s heaven for booklovers. And if you didn’t love books before you got here, there’s a big chance you’ll start now. If not only for having something other then the other passengers to keep you company when the subway car screeches to a halt for the tenth time in a row in the tunnel between Union Square and Third Avenue and you’re already running twenty minutes late. A book will calm you down.
My main practical problem in leaving New York, besides getting rid of my furniture and other belongings that I couldn’t take with across the pond, was my dear collection of books. I had managed to build up quite an impressive set of piles (all neatly organized mind you) of beautiful, beloved books. It was really hard to say goodbye to them. To sell them for a couple of bucks to the book table guys on the street or even giving them away for nothing when I knew that they were worth so much more than that, was hard. Not least emotionally. This quote expresses it pretty well:

“Who are we,
if not a combination of
experiences, information,
books we have read,
things imagined?
Each life is
an encyclopedia, a library,
an inventory of objects,
a series of styles, and
can be constantly
reshuffled and reordered
in every

Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millenium

Needless to say, I was pretty attached to them, perhaps a bit too much. When times get rough and reality a bit too real, a book to carry you off someplace else is a pretty valuable thing. I’d like to think that I kept the best stuff I’ve read inside of me along the way, even if my books are not physically with me.

But back to the subject here. If you love to read or just to smell the scent of a freshly printed paperback, you’re in the right place. There are book related events going on every single day, in all boroughs of the city.

Next up are my favorite New York book spots!
Please feel free to contribute if you have any of your own, they can be anywhere!

Pictures from Flickr: 1, 2, Anthropologie.


Marta said...

Nice :) I realized in London people read a lot too..I saw lots of people reading everywhere. In portugal is not so common... kiss*

PlanetLumiere said...

ah, your post made me miss nyc. favorite bookshop: housing works!


Hermione said...

Yeah, London must be pretty similar I gather! Lovely!
I'm definitely including Housing Works in my post, which is under construction.. Thanks so much for your lovely blogs and comments!!

Sum said...

I already have a Sense and Sensibility book, but I want that book! I saw it at my university bookstore and at Anthropologie as well. I like the design on them a lot.

Hermione said...

I know, Sum, those books are really tempting, too bad they're not super cheap as well! But it's a great selection too, so it would be nice to have on a shelf somewhere...

*Marine Fleury* said...

I loooove Regina spektor!
i discover your blog and i love it!!!!

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