Books and the City

Last week, Brian and I spent a long weekend in NYC. It’s our favorite city to visit (we even honeymooned there). We try to make the trip a few times each year and usually pass our days shopping and our nights visiting with friends at thrilling restaurants or charming wine bars– but this year with shopping off the menu, we had to get creative with our afternoons. So, we decided to scour the city for the best used bookstore.

I know, we managed to replace shopping with, well, shopping. But at least we were setting our own terms and making a game out of it.

Brian and I have been known to get a little crazy when it comes to books (used or new) so to keep us both honest, ensure we could repack our suitcases, and to give our mission an added purpose, we came up with this one rule: One used book each. Period.

For a book addict like me this “one book rule” was worse than buying nothing at all. But I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge.

After visiting the usual spots (the Strand Bookstore, East West Books, Forbidden Planet, and East Village Books) we were still empty handed and a bit overwhelmed.

Then, on the advice of a friend, we headed to Alabaster Bookshop, which turned out to be the “hole-in-the-wall” retailer we were searching for. The smell, the shopkeeper, the shelves bowing under the immense weight of Tolstoy and Austen and Woolf – convinced us that we would find our treasures in this small but perfect place.

As it turned out, we did. Brian found a fun children’s book about a magical ninja (whose cover art ended up being much more interesting than the tale inside) and I picked up a copy of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman (not exactly classic literature, but it made for a pleasant read during the flight home).

Overall, I loved our hunting expedition. It was the most meaningful (and cheapest) shopping experience I’ve ever had in New York City.


PS. I just wanted to take a moment to plug Hotel 17

“The newly renovated Hotel 17 is a chic budget hotel conveniently located in Downtown New York near the East Village.” I’ve stayed there about a dozen times over the last four years and think it is the best kept secert in the city. The price is great, the rooms are clean, and the staff is friendly. If you are okay with having a shared bathroom, I recommed you check it out on your next trip to New York! (And no, I did not receive any type of kick-back for this endorsement.)

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