Maybe it’s our city’s rich literary history, or maybe it’s because we need to find some way to spend that 45-minute commute, but we’re pretty sure New Yorkers are some of the biggest bookworms there are. And luckily, we still have a handful of brick-and-mortar shops where we can hunt down our next read (and maybe meet an author or two).
Tribeca: The Mysterious Bookshop
Never met a thriller you didn’t like? Head to the country’s oldest mystery specialist bookstore for hard-boiled detective novels, true-crime accounts, tales of espionage and more. Be sure to check out the house-published “bibliomysteries,” a series of short stories (written by some of the genre’s biggest names) that center around books and bookstores.
58 Warren St.; 212-587-1011 or mysteriousbookshop.com
Lower East Side: Bluestockings
Stock up on reading material to help you fight the patriarchy at this volunteer-run bookstore, which specializes in titles about feminism, social justice, race, gender and politics, along with zines, fiction, poetry, fair-trade coffee and vegan cookies.
172 Allen St.; 212-777-6028 or bluestockings.com
Fort Greene: Greenlight Bookstore
This beloved indie shop is notable not just for its eclectic book selection (including plenty of local authors) but also for its packed roster of events, from readings to book discussions to kids’ story hours.
686 Fulton St., Brooklyn; 718-246-0200 or greenlightbookstore.com
Astoria: The Astoria Bookshop
Believe it or not, the largest borough is sorely lacking in general-interest English-language bookstores, but that’s about to change thanks to a new indie shop in Kew Gardens and a Long Island City location of uptown staple BookCulture. In the meantime, the Astoria Bookshop is ready with handwritten recommendations and a dedication to Queens writers.
31-29 31st St., Queens; 718-278-2665 or astoriabookshop.com
Soho: Housing Works Bookstore Café
Used bookstore, wedding venue, Moth StorySLAM stage and admirable cause, all rolled into one lovely, high-ceilinged space.
126 Crosby St.; 212-334-3324 or housingworks.org
This North Brooklyn spot (which also has a location in Jersey City) gets points for its multiple book clubs, including one focused on titles featured in Gilmore Girls and another entitled “Humans Are Awesome” that explores anthropology, evolution and human nature.
126 Franklin St., Brooklyn; 718-383-0096 or wordbookstores.com
Upper East Side: The Corner Bookstore
When we picture the quintessential local bookshop, this is what we see. The historic storefront houses a thoughtfully curated selection for kids and adults—some claim it's one of the inspirations for the shop in You’ve Got Mail (another being beloved children's shop Books of Wonder). The UES is also quite the bookstore mecca, with the Francophile Albertine and food-focused Kitchen Arts & Letters nearby.
1313 Madison Ave.; 212-831-3554 or cornerbookstorenyc.com
Park Slope: Community Bookstore
If you’re not convinced by the well-stocked shelves (featuring many independent authors and small presses), the stained-glass windows, garden courtyard and store cat, Tiny, should win you over. We also love its equally charming sister store, Terrace Books.
143 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn; 718-783-3075 or communitybookstore.net
West Village: Three Lives & Company
After a building-ownership scare last year, the beloved neighborhood staple is safe for now (and thank goodness). We’ve spent many an afternoon browsing the paperbacks and chatting with the wonderfully knowledgeable staff.
154 W. Tenth St.; 212-741-2069 or threelives.com
Midtown: Argosy Book Store
Walking into this third-generation family-owned antiquarian archive—housed in a six-story townhouse—is like stepping through a portal to another time. Inside, you’ll find thousands of out-of-print books, first editions, antique prints, maps and autographs.
116 E. 59th St.; 212-753-4455 or argosybooks.com
Cobble Hill: Books Are Magic
Bookish hearts were broken when longtime pillar BookCourt closed at the end of last year. Fortunately, author Emma Straub and her husband stepped in to fill the void by opening this lovely shop, already known for its thoughtful staff recommendations, A-list events and a “poetry gumball machine” that donates its proceeds to charity.
225 Smith St., Brooklyn; 718-246-2665 or booksaremagic.net
Chelsea: 192 Books
You’ve likely walked past this sun-drenched shop while strolling the High Line, and it definitely warrants a detour for its crazy-friendly staffers, rotating art on view and well-rounded selection.
192 Tenth Ave.; 212-255-4022 or 192books.com
South Bronx: The Lit. Bar (Opening Soon)
The Bronx has been sadly underserved in the literary department, especially since the closing of the borough’s only remaining shop—a Barnes & Noble—last year. Fortunately, one entrepreneurial resident (and bookworm) is planning to change that, with a shop/wine bar/community center due to open later this year.
Location TBD; thelitbar.com
Upper West Side: Westsider Rare & Used Books
If you consider combing through endless stacks an indispensable part of the bookstore experience, you'll love this uptown mainstay, which packs floor-to-ceiling books into its snug space. It's buy-sell-trade model means plenty of surprising and cheap titles (including some as low as $1) and that magical old-book smell for days.
2246 Broadway; 212-362-0706 or westsiderbooks.com
Union Square: Strand Bookstore
Come on, you didn’t think we’d forget the venerated downtown institution, did you? No matter how many times we visit (and how many tote bags we accrue), we’ll never get tired of those 18 miles of books.
828 Broadway; 212-473-1452 or strandbooks.com