Ally Malinenko

A Bookshop Interview with Ally Malinenko


Ally Malinenko has been one of my favorite writers for a long time, and getting to share our cancer treatment experiences with each other way back when meant a lot to me and really helped during some tough times, so I’m doubly excited to finally interview her about her favorite bookshop. And how excited was I that she picked one of my absolute favorite places in the entire world! See below for more information about her books and social media links!

Favorite Bookshop: The Strand (New York, NY)

1. How did you discover the shop? Do you remember your first experience there?

I hate to say this because it's probably such a stereotypical New Yorker answer but The Strand is my favorite bookstore. Yes, I know it's full of tourists and yes I know they sell about as many trinkets as they do books, but I love it. I can't help it. The first time I went to The Strand, I was with my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time. Though I had been to the city plenty of times growing up I never went to that particular bookstore. Jay, on the other hand knew all about it, including the infamous tagline: 18 miles of books. Walking in I just remember row after row of never ending shelves that you needed a ladder to get to the top of. It's different now, but at the time, it was incredible.

2. What is it like to browse around? Does it have a particular vibe or atmosphere that stands out?

Once you get through the crunch of tourists at the front of the store, it's nice. My favorite part is the basement with a lot of the nonfiction: gender studies, science, music, etc. Also that's where the vinyl is - my second obsession after books I feel like Strand's atmosphere is non-judgmental which I appreciate. I never feel like anyone is paying attention to what I'm looking at and the staff are always really great at helping me find stuff. I went in there the other day to buy a book published in the 1950's about the history of the Black Arts: Witchcraft and the Occult and no one wrinkled their nose at me. It's not a "literary" store where you feel like your choices are frowned upon my a man at the front desk in a sweater vest. My kind of vibe.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

So many things! And not just witchcraft books, I swear! Most of the books that I purchase come from The Strand. The rest from the library. Christmas shopping for my husband usually involves spending enough money to get another tote bag! The most recent purchases, other than the Black Arts book would have been How Long till Black Future Month by N. K. Jemisn and Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen which were birthday gifts from Jay.

4. Is there a specific part of the shop you love that really makes the place unique?

They have a rare books room on the third floor but I've never been up there! I'm sure it's fascinating. I like the second floor with the art books and the children's books. The children's room is pretty magical to me, not just cause I write children's books, but also because it still has those never ending shelves. I can only imagine being a little kid and seeing all those books.

BIO: Ally Malinenko is a novelist and poet. Her most recent poetry chapbook Princess Leia on the Back Deck Blues was published by Holy & Intoxicated Press. More information about her work can be found at or at @allymalinenko where she can be found blathering on about smashing the patriarchy, slaying cancer, writing books and other shenanigans.