NYC for Book Lovers

Wednesday, 22 November 2017
I am a book fiend. The library has kept me satisfied for the last few months but I found myself feeling some urges.... urges to shop. Urges to shop for books. I suggested that I wanted to do a little book tour of New York and some of my friends were also keen so we found ourselves dedicating a rainy Sunday to visiting some of New York's best bookstores and libraries. We arrive in NYC through Grand Central so we decided to get the subway as far downtown as we were going and work our way back to the train station. And due to timing, we limited ourselves to Manhattan only - although I'm sure some of the other boroughs have some fantastic options!

Our first stop was the Housing Works Book Cafe, a secondhand bookstore and cafe that is run entirely by volunteers and raises money to fight AIDs and homelessness. We were a little hungover so got some coffee/tea from the cafe and sat for a little while before perusing the shelves. I also had a cheddar and spring onion 'biscuit' (scone) which was delicious. I was particularly drawn to their uncorrected proofs section where I picked up two books that are being released soon. The books were both $5 but they actually had some sort of sale on so it was $7 something. I rounded up my purchase as a donation as it's a good cause!

The next bookstore was literally just around the corner - McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers. This bookstore arranges its books by the nationality of its authors which is a really interesting concept. I'm trying to be a lot more diverse in my reading so this was really great for me. I didn't actually end up buying any books here, however, as all the ones I saw that I really wanted to read were ones I know they have in the library. But I would definitely come back here, there's also a cafe that we probably would have stopped at had we not just been as Housing Works!

The next bookstore on our list was one that I have wanted to visit for years! The Strand is probably the most famous bookstore in New York and I can understand why. This place is literally packed with both old and new books and has some really high shelves too. The bookstore boasts an impressive 18 miles worth of books and also has a few pop-ups across the city. I'm trying not to spend so much money on books as I don't want a heavy suitcase for returning to Scotland. But... I did pick up a tote bag and two stickers for my laptop. The tote bag has a zipper, thick straps and an NYC print and I absolutely love it! The Strand was amazing but I found the ground floor to be a little claustrophobic as there were so many people. The upper and lower floors were much quieter.

Right around the corner from The Strand is the Alabaster Bookstore. This is the smallest bookstore we visited and it has a lot of old and some very rare books. There was even a copy of Trainspotting. And as you can tell by the photo there's an all you can eat pizza store right next door if that tickles your fancy! 

We were finished with bookstores for the day and headed back uptown on the subway to visit the Morgan Library. This library started off as the private collection of Pierpont Morgan (of J.P. Morgan) and is now a beautiful museum with some of the rarest and most expensive books in the world. At $13 it's actually one of NYC's cheaper museums and is well worth a gander on a rainy afternoon. It's a little hard to truely capture how beautiful this building is because the lighting is quiet dark but trust me, if you're a book lover then this place is not to be missed. 

Our final stop of the day was the New York Public Library which we managed to get to about half an hour before it closed. There's lots of rooms to see and everything is very grand and marble, however, it just didn't capture my heart like the Boston Public Library did. It's minutes from Grand Central so well worth popping into on your way there!

We decided to bring our tour to a close then as we were next to the train station. I'd originally wanted to go and see some statues of famous authors in Central Park but the weather was really bad and no one was quite feeling up to trekking around the park in the rain. One day!

If anyone has any other recommendations of bookstores in New York then please leave a comment. 

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