Every New Yorker has their favorite thing to do in the summer, the thing they always come back to when the breakneck pace of the city has somehow slowed around them.
For me, it’s reading.
It can be hard to steal a minute to do it, but it’s always worth it when I can find time between train stops or even enough to make it to a park. But I have a problem – I’m almost done with my book, and I don’t have any more with me to read.
With this guide of New York City’s best bookstores, I’ll never be wanting for a read again. Whether you’re looking for books that are new, used, or rare, New York has got them.
Argosy (116 East 59 St, Manhattan)
As New York’s oldest independent bookstore, every purchase comes with a side of history at Argosy. And it’s truly massive, filling six stories in Midtown with books, art, and maps. This is the place to go if you’re looking for antiques to read, or perhaps some gift of obscure interest for a friend or family member.
Used Books at NYPL (476 5 Ave, Manhattan)
A side effect of having one of the most robust library systems in the world is that you’re going to have lots of books going out of circulation. Rather than dispose of them, the New York Public Library puts them on sale in its main location at the Stephen A. Schwarzman building. Just head to the shop and see what you can see – the books are cheap, and some even come in curated sets.
Community Bookstore (143 7 Ave, Brooklyn)
If you love cats, turtles, or gardens as much as you love books, Community Bookstore is calling your name. Situated only a short distance from the ideal reading zone that is Prospect Park, Community provides a “considered selection” of new books. It’s welcoming and the helpful human staff is rounded out by a turtle and a cat – who probably won’t be the biggest help in finding your next read, but hey, who’s complaining about that?
The Strand (828 Broadway, Manhattan)
As New York’s largest bookstore, this is a no-brainer. Strand is famous for their claim that they carry 18 miles of books, and for their extensive collection of rare and collectible books. Their Rare Book Room is so well-stocked and beautiful that it’s even become a wedding destination for book lovers. So whether you’re tying the knot, or you’re just looking for something you’ve never even thought about reading before, Strand is the place to be.
POWERHOUSE ARENA (37 Main St, Brooklyn)
Focusing on design and photography books with a selection of others, the Arena may not have the widest selection of books, but it’s about more than just that. The Arena is home to a wide variety of events, ranging from parties hosted by publications like VICE or the New Yorker to art shows and book launches. As far as cultural events go, this place has among the best in the whole city. You can find upcoming events on their website so you can plan your next visit ahead of time.
Bookstore Café (126 Crosby St, Manhattan)
Bookstore Café is owned by Housing Works, an organization dedicated to eradicating HIV/AIDS and homelessness from New York. The store itself runs almost entirely on donations and volunteers, meaning that as much as possible of your purchase is going to people who need help. With a wide selection of books and events on top of that, there’s not much more to ask for in an ideal bookstore.