It’s no secret by now that the bookstores are the first place I go when I visit a city. This is particularly true of New York City, which has tons of great bookshops.
On my recent solo trip to NYC, I visited half a dozen – several new-to-me spots and one old favorite. So here’s a roundup of the bookstores I visited, what I bought and what I loved.
Book Culture has three locations on the Upper West Side. I’d visited the one on 112th Street before, but didn’t even know about the one on 82nd and Columbus Avenue. Luckily for me, it was right around the corner from where I was staying. The first floor is packed with beautiful books and gifts, and the children’s area in the basement is enchanting.
I spent ages in there on the first night of my trip, browsing the shelves. I bought three books (and a couple of other treasures) that night – then went back the next day and scored a lovely copy of Anne of Green Gables from the remainder table. (Because you can never have too many editions of Anne.)
Westsider Used & Rare Books on 81st and Broadway is narrow, crowded and fascinating. I popped in for a browse on my first day in NYC, and loved eavesdropping on other patrons’ conversations with the owner. She said about an author whose name I didn’t catch, “Sometimes we put him in the philosophy section because he’s weird.”
I was a little overwhelmed, but picked up a Mrs. Pollifax mystery for just $3.
On my second day in NYC, I hopped a train down to TriBeCa for the express purpose of visiting the Mysterious Bookshop. What a fabulous name, no? (That’s the door sign above.) It’s nearly all mysteries, and the entire back wall is dedicated to Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockiana.
Also: multiple ladders you can climb to browse the stacks! Be still, my mystery-geek heart.
I left with three mysteries: one set in Oxford, one fun vintage find and one middle-grade mystery featuring Enola Holmes, Sherlock’s younger sister.
I love books and I love travel, so a travel bookstore is my happy place. Idlewild Books, on 19th St. just north of Union Square, is tiny but delightful. I picked up a Chicago travel guide for a friend (on sale) and a book about English football for my Tottenham Hotspur-loving husband.
The Strand needs no introduction from me. It’s a hulking wonderland at 12th and Broadway, near Union Square. It has 18 miles (!) of shelving on four floors.
I’d been there once before, but couldn’t pass up the chance to go again. This is a slice of the first floor, taken from the staircase above:
And this is how my head felt after browsing the fiction, poetry, mysteries, food and kids’ sections:
I did pop down to the basement to check out the travel and essay sections, too. Here’s what I bought:
Board books for a friend’s baby girl, a foodie exploration of New York, a meditation on “idle travel,” a chick-lit novel by an author I like, and possibly the only E.B. White essay collection I didn’t already own. (I love him.)
My shoulders were so sore from lugging my purchases around (and of course I’d brought half a dozen books with me). But my bookworm heart was so, so happy.
What are your favorite NYC bookstores? Any spots I missed?