170 7th Avenue South, New York, NY
There are two branches for this travel-themed shop in greater New York, but on this day I visited the Manhattan/West Village location, with its rounded corner windows turning the little store into a bright and delightful place to browse. As stated, the books are travel related, but they don’t always contain themselves specifically to travel. If that sounds confusing, I assure you, it’s a really wonderful thing.
As you might expect for a bookshop with a travel theme, the store is broken up into countries, regions, and cities all around the world, with sections near the front door dedicated to France and Paris, England and London, and New York City, and that’s only for starters. There are areas dedicated to all the major travel spots in Asia, Africa, South and Central America, plenty of European destinations, on and on, with maps, guidebooks, postcards, photo books, journals, and historic examinations about the cities, structures, people, languages, and food that make each spot unique and important.
What I like best is that each section also includes novels, short stories, poetry, and essays about those places, by people from those places. The shop really does cover all their bases in this way, mixing fiction, poetry, nonfiction, guides, and maps all together, clustered in little enclaves dedicated to the most wonderful destinations around the world. I feel this keeps the shop lively, in that you never really know what you’ll find when you begin snooping through the Vietnamese shelves, or the Mexican shelves, or the Norwegian shelves. You might find a stellar novel, a memoir, a hotel guide, a play, a photo album, and so on.
Much like traveling to these locations, the only way to know what you might discover is to go there and see, so I highly recommend that you do. And even better, if you want to learn more about these cultures and countries, Idlewild offers language classes in their learning centers in the back of the shop, and a group of people were there doing just that behind closed glass doors during my visit. How cool!
Atmosphere — A small but bright corner shop dedicated to books about and from all corners of the world.
Quality — The books were new and in great shape.
Quantity — There were a lot of wonderful books in here considering how small the shop was. It’s not a huge place bit they pack the books in.
Diversity — A surprising amount of diversity in every conceivable way, with books from all over that spanned nonfiction, fiction, poetry, plays, journals, and more.
Affordability — Typical prices for new books.
Amenities — It’s a smaller shop, so aside from a chair or two, there aren’t a lot of places to sit a spell, but they had classrooms in the back and they put on a lot of courses, workshops, and events.
Location — Two locations, but I visited the west village location, not too awfully far from a few subway stops.
Customer Service — The young clerk stacking the shelves was very polite but mostly let me browse on my own, which I appreciate.
Overall — This is a fun shop, and whether you’re planning an overseas trip or just want to go there in the pages of a good novel, I highly recommend Idlewild Books.