When tourists imagine visiting New York, they're usually envisioning days traipsing down Park Avenue and nights spent sipping wine on rooftops. Their to do lists normally involve trips to Times Square and Central Park, maybe even a detour to Brooklyn.
But readers visiting New York should make a point to visit some of the city's independent bookstores. There's no shortage of them here, even if they're less publicized than Barnes and Noble and Amazon Books. And all of them well worth checking out.
Here are 14 stops every book lover should schedule into their agenda while they're in New York.
1. Strand Bookstore
If you're in New York and have a penchant for purchasing far more books than you can possibly read, you'll want to make this your first stop. Picture three floors of shelves, filled from top to bottom with books. Does that not sound like Heaven?
In addition to all of the amazing books, many of which can be found at discounted prices, there's also a ton of bookish merchandise at Strand. You can find mugs, tote bags, candles - basically anything your nerdy heart desires.
Oh, and they give you free bookmarks when you buy something. What better incentive is there?
2. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
Housing Works is a well-known chain of thrift stores, and they have an entirely separate location for the used books that come in. Located in downtown Manhattan, their bookstore cafe is a great place to stop if you're looking to sip some coffee and browse for used books you never knew you needed.
On top of the book bargains and delicious coffee, Housing Works also hosts a ton of readings and author events. It's the place to go if you're looking to meet other literature lovers and hear writers discuss their works.
The only bookshops comparable to Manhattan ones are the ones you find in Brooklyn. WORD is located on Franklin Street, near the Brooklyn Expo Center. It's a small and cozy little shop that sells lots of literary fiction and classics. They also have a thing for stationary and novelty items, and who doesn't love throwing money away on those?
If you happen to find yourself in New Jersey, WORD has a Jersey City location there as well.
4. McNally Jackson
McNally Jackson is an independent bookstore with two locations, one in SoHo and one in Williamsburg. The coolest thing about this particular bookseller? They sort the majority of their literature based on what nation it comes from. It makes reading diversely so much easier!
They also have a small cafe near the front of the store, and we all know that no book shopping adventure is complete without a caffeinated beverage.
5. 192 Books
A small storefront on 10th Avenue, 192 Books has been one of Manhattan's most popular bookstores since 2003. Specializing in a range of genres, it's a great place to catch author readings. And if you're browsing for books with the little ones, the store also offers a weekly storytelling hour.
No independent bookstore sticks around for this long unless it's worth visiting, so make sure you add this one to your list. You won't regret it.
6. Terrace Books
Terrace Books is your typical community bookstore, located directly across from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. They sell your usual commercial literature, but they also pride themselves on buying and selling rare editions.
This shop is the perfect watering hole for book lovers, and their staff is very accommodating when it comes to giving recommendations. Why not pick up something you've never heard of, then go for a stroll through the park?
7. Books are Magic
The name says everything for this one, doesn't it?
Books are Magic is a relatively new little store based in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Readers flock here to take pictures in front of the adorable mural painted on the side of the store, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit.
They have an incredible list of author events, plus their merch selection is to die for. How can you say no to something with the words "books are magic" printed on it?
8. Community Bookstore
Community Bookstore is run by the same people who own Terrace Books. And though Community Bookstore has been around longer, the two shops are noticeably similar. For starters, their setups and selections are almost identical.
That said, if I'm raving about this store's sister location, you know I'll be advising that you check this one out too. And it's located in Park Slope, so you'll have plenty to do afterward.
9. Book Revue
If you're heading to Long Island during your stay in New York, this is probably one of the only independent bookstores left there. The bright side? It's a darned good one.
Book Revue sells new and used books, the latter at deliciously discounted prices. It's a decently sized location, and the staff are super friendly and helpful. It's really no wonder the place has been around since 1977.
10. The Corner Bookstore
Madison Avenue's The Corner Bookstore is home to a wide range of literature, both fiction and nonfiction. They even sell "travel tomes," so if New York is the first stop of many, you may want to see what sorts of guides this store has to offer.
This bookseller also has some unique services to offer, including personalized book baskets for any occasion. That sounds like the sort of gift I'd want to receive.
11. Books of Wonder
Books of Wonder is the best spot to visit if you're in search of children's and young adult books, especially signed ones. Their uptown and downtown locations almost always have a variety of autographed works available for purchase.
On top of their enviable signed book collection, Books of Wonder is also known for hosting some awesome readings. They certainly know how to entertain young readers.
12. Book Culture
Book Culture boasts a whopping four locations, three in Manhattan and one in Long Island City. Each site is sizable, with plenty of sections to peruse. And if the wide variety of books isn't enough to attract your attention, they also have plenty of novelties to take home.
Among their more interesting products is their Book Culture Selects subscription service, which allows subscribers to receive a monthly book within a category of their choice. On top of the book, they also get a letter and a bookmark.
Are you running here to sign up yet?
13. Molasses Books
If you're looking for used books, Molasses Books in Brooklyn is another great place to go. But if the prospect of discounted titles isn't enough to convince you, the store also contains a cafe that sells coffee, tea and alcohol. Talk about a book shopping experience.
Molasses books is also open until midnight (when most stores close around 10) and offers happy hour deals between 6 and 8. Who needs to go bar hopping when you can grab a beer at the bookshop?
14. Greenlight Bookstore
You can check out Greenlight Bookstore at one of its two sites in Brooklyn. Whether you choose to browse the shelves on Fulton Street or on Flatbush Avenue, you'll be glad you stopped by. They have a great selection, and they partner with a number of organizations to put together top notch literary events.
Greenlight is a huge advocate for independent bookstores, so if you're drooling over the venues on this list, you may want to consider learning more about their mission.
After all, there's nothing better than a cozy community bookstore. And they need our support to keep them going.