Manhattan

A Review of Book Culture on Columbus

A Review of Book Culture on Columbus

450 Columbus Ave., New York, NY

Book Culture has a few locations throughout New York City, and the one I visited was a short walk from the American Museum of Natural History, or as I always called it, “the museum with the dinosaur bones.” A very technical and precise term. But anyway, this bookshop felt like the kind of store you’d go to in order to get a book for yourself and a gift for someone else, or vice versa. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, because if you don’t find a book you want, there are almost as many gifts as books, about a 50/50 split, making it much harder to walk out the door without something someone in your life would enjoy.

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A Review of Books of Wonder

A Review of Books of Wonder

217 W 84th Street, New York, NY

There’s a special kind of charm that children’s bookshops have, something about the mix of nostalgia for the books you loved to read when growing up and the new books waiting for the young audiences of today and tomorrow all shelved together. I like browsing kid’s bookshops because I have nieces and nephews who like to read and a mother obsessed with Nancy Drew and shopping for them is fun, and that’s not to mention my own appetite for the books of my youth. I have a list of them on my phone that I watch out for, and you can bet I had that list at the ready when I walked through the doors of Books of Wonder.

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A Review of Westsider Rare & Used Books

A Review of Westsider Rare & Used Books

2246 Broadway, New York, NY

I hadn’t wandered the Upper West Side of Manhattan in about ten years, and I mean really wander, spiraling the blocks on foot, coming into sight of Central Park before turning back toward the Hudson River, reaching squares and intersections midway where you can spin in place and see both boundaries. In that regard, the UWS really does feel like its own separate world, its own town, connected to Harlem and Hell’s Kitchen by the 1, the A, and so on. And if that were the case, Westsider Books would be the home of the literary fringe element in town, the place where hopeless poets, serious antiquarians, outsiders, punks, professors, and meticulous collectors would gather to browse and feel at home among the towering stacks of books.

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A Review of Three Lives & Company

A Review of Three Lives & Company

154 W 10th Street, New York, NY

This corner shop has been selling new hardcovers and paperbacks to locals since the late 1960s, and I only stumbled across it by accident while wandering Greenwich Village looking for a different shop on my “To Review” list. I’m happy to have made the discovery, because while it’s not a large shop, it is certainly packed with an excellent selection of new books, classic titles, and unique authors. And readers as well. That was something they had plenty of.

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A Review of BOOK OFF

A Review of BOOK OFF

9 W 45th Street, New York, NY

About six years ago I worked a block from this multimedia shop, which stands within the general sphere of the Times Square area of Manhattan, and I used to make a habit of going about once a week. While it’s not my favorite bookstore, I went that often for two reasons: dollar books, and deeply discounted classic movies. I recently passed by on a NYC visit and I stopped in to see if the place held up after all this time, and it certainly does.

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A Review of bookbook

A Review of bookbook

266 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

While hustling from Greenwich Village toward the Bowery section of Manhattan a sunny Saturday afternoon, I stumbled across bookbook out of the blue. (Ed. Note: They spell their name lowercased, so that’s not a typo.) I hadn’t heard of it before, despite living in the city for about five years not long ago and having walked up and down Bleecker more times than I can count. Dumbstruck by my ignorance, I walked in and found a real gem of a bookshop. Whatever you do, don’t make my mistake and overlook this place.

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A Review of Idlewild Books

A Review of Idlewild Books

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.

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A Review of Chartwell Bookseller

A Review of Chartwell Bookseller

55 East 52nd Street, New York, NY

This small shop is set off from the lobby of a polished midtown Manhattan building by a black marble hallway lined with photos of Winston Churchill, who is heavily featured in this bookshop. They sell books by him, about him, about World War II, British history, and other books Anglophiles would love. With recent films about Churchill’s era (Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, to name a couple) proving his time in power is still intriguing to us, this shop is perfectly situated to fulfill your every Churchill curiosity.  

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A Review of Logos Book Store

A Review of Logos Book Store

1575 York Ave., New York, NY

I came upon Logos as I was wandering around waiting to check into my Airbnb up in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan. It was just before lunch on a Saturday and York Ave was quiet, matching the calm inside the store. I had the shelves all to myself, aside from the clerk up front, who was polite and let me browse at my own pace. There was a nice array of oil paintings hung up above the bookshelves, and the store had that old book smell with softly creaking wooden floors—I felt very much in my element.

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Bookshop Interview with Bud Smith

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Bud Smith is the author of Double Bird, Work, F-250, Calm Face, and other books of fiction and poetry, and I caught his ear for a quick moment to ask him some questions about his favorite bookshop. 

BookBook (266 Bleecker Street, NYC) 

1. How did you discover the shop?

Michael Bible told me to go there because we were drinking beer and talking about all those NYRB releases. He said that they had books in like new condition for $6 or so. It's not quite a used bookstore. It's like a major discount for like-new books. 

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse at BookBook.

That big stack of NYRB releases is the best. It's right in the front of the store. I went there the other day and bought five of them. Past that are popular fiction titles and beyond that in the back of the shop there is literature. So you can nab Nabokov or whoever for $6.  

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

A few Eve Babitz. A few by Tove Jansson. Fat City. Lucky Jim. 

4. What is it about BookBook that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

I just like how good quality the books are and how cheap they are. I like that it's right outside the Christopher Street path stop so I can get there quick from Jersey City. There is a WORD bookstore in my neighborhood in Jersey City but I do not like it very much. BookBook is the shit. Codex is another really great bookstore at the far Far east end of Bleecker.

Bud Smith is the author of Teenager (Tyrant Books, 2018), Double Bird (Maudlin House, 2018), WORK (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2017), Dust Bunny City (Disorder Press, 2017), Calm Face (House of Vlad, 2016), among others. He lives in Jersey City, NJ, and works heavy construction. He blogs in the secret underground blogging ring known as tinyletter, follow him there, oh gawd. Also, he’s on Twitter at @bud_smithFor more about Bud and his books, check out his website, www.budsmithwrites.com.  

A Review of Shakespeare & Co. Books

A Review of Shakespeare & Co. Books

939 Lexington Ave., New York, NY

A weekday morning for a neighborhood bookshop could very well be a quiet affair, but Shakespeare & Co. on the upper east side of Manhattan was humming with guests on a Friday morning in March, though at that early hour, just after ten, most of the patrons were there for the coffee and pastries from their café tucked into the front of the shop. A few people took up chairs in the back to read over their steaming mugs. But I was there for the books, and there were plenty to browse through.

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A Review of McNally Jackson

A Review of McNally Jackson

52 Prince Street, New York, NY

In the heart of Soho’s cobbled streets and chic high-end clothiers, there’s an equally glossy and glass-encased bookshop that has a surprising number of works by indie authors and poets waiting within. First impressions, though, make the shop seem very au courant, with swaths of art books and large sections dedicated to photography, design, architecture, art, fashion, and other stylish topics. But until you start digging into the fiction, literature, and poetry, you don’t see the whole story.

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A Review of Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

A Review of Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

126 Crosby St., New York, NY

Wherever you combine a used book store and a café with food and coffee, I will find you. I will find you, and I will spend time with you. I came across this shop by accident while looking for Jackson McNally in SoHo, and damn, what a cool spot! Beyond just having a huge array of used books (all donated) and a relaxed, comfortable environment, this place is extra special because proceeds from the shop support a ton of local initiatives, like those working to end AIDS and homelessness. (You can find out more at their website.) So all of us buying cool books helps fund essential causes for those in need. It's a win-win-win.

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A Review of Rizzoli Bookstore

A Review of Rizzoli Bookstore

1133 Broadway, New York, NY

Even after relocating from their 57th Street home to this new store in the NoMad neighborhood, just a short walk from Madison Square Park, Rizzoli’s claim to be the “most beautiful bookstore in New York” may not be far off the mark. With large floor tiles, towering columns, and expansive shelf space, Rizzoli Bookstore certainly caters to the more chic and stylish readers on Manhattan Island. Still, I found there’s plenty there for the more humble reader, like yours truly.

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A Review of The Mysterious Bookshop

A Review of The Mysterious Bookshop

58 Warren Street, New York, NY

If you love mysteries, hardboiled detectives, noir, Sherlock Holmes, pulp novels, or police procedurals, this is your ideal shop. It’s just one room, but it’s a big room, with books shelved floor to ceiling and piled on tables and turning racks in between. With leather sofas for reading and helpful staff willing to climb ladders to get those out-of-reach gems, this specialized shop is a great place to browse and a lot of fun to visit.

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A Review of Alabaster Bookshop

A Review of Alabaster Bookshop

112 4th Avenue, New York, NY

Just around the corner from the famous Strand bookshop is another store of near equal quality—although not equal quantity, not by a long shot. Even a lot of Manhattanites I’ve spoken to have never visited this “little shop that could,” and I always tell them that the Alabaster Bookstore should be on everyone’s hit list.

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A Review of Strand Bookstore

A Review of Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY

The idea of writing a review of Strand feels almost silly, as its reputation precedes itself quite well. And telling New York City bookworms about Strand is like telling Michael Jordan about basketball, but it’s an absolute pleasure to bring out-of-town book lovers into Strand and watch their eyes pop as they stare agog at the multi-floor beauty waiting for them within, or at the racks and racks of dollar books lining the sidewalk outside. This is my favorite place to browse for books. You can kill half a day here if you wanted to and never get bored, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t leave the shop without a purchase.

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A Review of Argosy Book Store

A Review of Argosy Book Store

116 E 59th Street, New York, NY

If your ideal bookstore is a quiet shop with green carpeting and dark wood, rife with that old book smell, then Argosy book store is perfect for you. Just blocks from the southeast corner of Central Park, it claims to be New York’s oldest independent bookstore, standing strong since 1925, and it certainly feels like it. With all the ancient prints and maps available throughout all six floors of the shop (I only explored the first), the winding staircases, the green desk lamps, and the floor-to-ceiling rows of gorgeously-bound antique volumes of poetry, fiction, and historical texts, you know you’re in a serious shop from the first moment you enter.

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