“Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men. They undress you with love, strength and knowledge. It’s love from within.”
-Monsieur Perdu to a customer of his Literary Apothecary.
(Excerpt from “The Little Paris Bookshop”, written by Nina George)
I love books. I love to surround myself with books and a home without books isn’t a home to me.
So whenever I see a bookstore I just can’t help it I just have to enter it and see what they have there. Sure they have books, but every bookstore has a very special character of his own.
For all of the book -lovers out there, I have made a list with my favorite book-places in New York…
I say bookplaces because they aren’t all just bookstores and I have strolled through the whole city to find places like these.
For the start I will take something very obvious, but I promise there are also very special and hidden places in my list.
- The New York Public Library
I am not sure why, but this huge old building has something very special. We all know how it feels to enter one of these super impressive old buildings, that are evidence of the ability of humans to create great things.
It is not only beautiful and majestic and overwhelming, but it also feels like a place of peace. All these people are there together in the same place where all of the epic stories, tales and the wisdom of humanity have a home.
The old furniture, and the quiet is a very welcome contrast to the New York outside.
2.The Strand Book Store
18 miles of books.Old books, new books, used books, loved books. You can get lost between all of these bookshelves-and find true treasures and rare prints right next to a new bestseller.I have to admit that I haven’t really figured out how the employees find anything in there, but I don’t have to know that. I love the way how it’s really just a place for every kind of books and for people who look for a little sympathy or comfort or help or whatever, in books.
And they have great deals for old or secondhand books too.
Actually I found out that there is not only one, but three “Toby’s Estate”s in New York. Apparently it is originally from Brooklyn.
The one I have been frequently visiting is a great place on 5th Avenue, down in the flatiron district.
It combines three of the best things in the world. Coffee-culture, flowers and books.
What more do you need?
A beautiful place, with comfy armchairs and an alluringly smell of fresh flowers and even fresher hot coffee and baked brownies.
Compared to the two places that I mentioned above, it is a pretty small place. But I think, that’s also why it’s so nice, it is very cute and cozy.
Also the people are super helpful and friendly and going there actually feels like a short trip to England.
Another thing that I liked about it, that they also sell all kinds of different books and magazines, but with a special focus on classical literature and especially art and the art scene in New York.
You can not imagine how thankful I was for the break from feminism, gender-equality and the “#blacklivesmatter”-hype ( don’t get me wrong, those are all very important topics, but it’s sort of getting too much. Check out the bestseller list, it’s all about oppressed women and black, gay men-or even better: black, gay, and oppressed transgender women.*
This is simply not the right reading when one is looking for simple entertainment).
*I believe that everyone should be free to be themselves without having to face injustice. So I am glad, people are starting to accept everyone in our society.
4. The Argosy Book Store
The Argosy Book Store is New Yorks oldest independent book store.
It is one of the best places in town. The whole place is just magical and like from another century. They sell mostly books but also old maps and art pieces. It is the kind of book store that is described in books and where you expect to enter Narnia when opening one of the doors. In the shop itself, it smells like old books and dust and the light is just enough to read and not as uncomfortable as in one of these huge chain bookstores. It has a lot of dark wood, and colorful carpets and these ladders that you need to reach the books on the highest shelves. The people that work there just fit perfectly in the picture.
And the lady I usually talk to, seems to know every single one of the books and she is the kindest and nicest person you could imagine. With her reading glasses, the grey hair and the story-teller voice she has-she almost seems like a fairy.
Truly an oasis and moreover a place where you can find books that you could probably find nowhere else (for a fair price too!).
5. The Studio of Neil Powell
This place is actually a gallery. But it is a special gallery. Not only are Neil’s pieces inspiring, colorful, sometimes critical and sometimes funny-but most of all it’s a place where a booklover gives books a second life. (That’s more or less exactly that he used himself, after I asked him what he did to those poor books).
He collects old books he finds on the street and that no one wants anymore and make them part of one of his pieces.
Maybe that’s why there is this special feeling when you enter his gallery in Brooklyn.
It’s just a place one wants to be.
Though I have been to many galleries since I am in New York, this one is by far my favorite. I have seen so many great ideas and inspiring pieces, but still I liked this gallery the most. The best gallery since “El Ojo del Ciclón” in Havana.
Neil Powell has studied the art of book binding in college and is now giving old, unwanted books the chance to shine again!
If you want to get an idea of what kind of art he is doing, I am putting the link to his website here:
That’s it for today my friends!
If you know great book places I’d love to hear about them!