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Best Author Sightings: Book Court
For those times when the line at Trader Joe’s is miserably long, do yourself a favor and head to Book Court. This family-run store is known for its selection of under-the-radar finds and bargain prices, but it’s also a great place to spot actual authors. We’ve personally seen Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead and Jennifer Egan browsing the staff picks table (though, not all in the same trip).
163 Court St. (between Pacific and Dean sts.), Brooklyn; 718-875-3677
Best Happy Hour: Housing Works Bookstore Café
What’s better than coffee and a good book? Wine and a good book. Housing Works in Soho serves up libations and freshly made sandwiches (with Balthazar bread), and it’s an excellent spot to go solo or bring a friend. Plus, if you go on the right night, you just might catch a hilarious pun competition.
126 Crosby St. (at Jersey St.); 212-334-3324
Best Poetry Readings: Unnameable Books
Mysterious and cozy, Unnameable Books in Prospect Heights is like the beginning of a great love affair. Head down to the cluttered-cool basement for poetry readings from the likes of Ian Dreiblatt and Lysette Simmons. Fair warning: The website is slightly behind the times, so be sure to call and check in for upcoming events.
600 Vanderbilt Ave. (at St. Marks Ave.), Brooklyn; 718-789-1534
Best Staff Picks: Word
Despite the flannel-clad Greenpoint denizens, there’s nothing ironic about this homey bookstore. Big on community, Word holds a handful of monthly book clubs and writing groups. But you should really go for the staff recommendations. Each employee fills out an index card with his or her pick and then gives a reason why you have to read said book right now.
126 Franklin St. (at Milton St.), Brooklyn; 718-383-0096
Best Coffee-Table Books: Dashwood Books
Tucked into a basement-level storefront in Noho, Dashwood Books is a photography lover?s temple. Devoted exclusively to photo books, the shop sells everything from Bruce Weber?s All-American volumes to obscure Japanese and German tomes. It also boasts a seriously well-versed staff--you name it, they know it. Sign up for the mailing list to get a heads-up on author signings.
33 Bond St. (between Lafayette St. and Bowery); 212-387-8520
Best Fashion Tomes: Assouline Boutique at The Plaza
This boutique--hidden on the mezzanine level of The Plaza--sells glossy fashion books on more than 100 designers. The prices ain?t cheap, but can you really put a monetary value on owning your own copy of Windows at Bergdorf Goodman?
768 Fifth Ave. (at 59th St.); 212-593-7236
Best Cookbook Selection: Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks
If you’ve got an appetite for nostalgia, Bonnie Slotnick has the recipe. The former cookbook publisher has spent the last 15 years selling rare and out-of-print books that you really can’t find anywhere else (think: The Four Seasons Cookbook and the 1950s Electric Blender Recipes). She also hoards issues of Gourmet magazine dating back to the 1940s. Delicious.
163 W. Tenth St. (at Waverly Pl.); 212-989-8962
Best People-Watching: McNally Jackson
Sometimes you just want to sit with a frothy latte, a copy of The Gentlewoman and stare at good-looking men. Well, McNally Jackson is the place to do it. Also notable: This shop is the best smelling bookstore we’ve ever set foot in.
52 Prince St. (between Lafayette and Mulberry sts.); 212-274-1160
Best Cheap Thrills: The Strand
You didn’t think we would end our list without including this heavy hitter, did ya? One of the city’s most well-known literary destinations, the Strand houses more than 2.5 million used, new and rare finds. And while other shops also have a $1 rack, we recently spotted a copy of A Storm of Swords for $.49. Beat that.
828 Broadway (at 12th St.); 212-473-1452
We love our Kindle as much as the next New Yorker who refuses to lug The Goldfinch on a crowded 6 train. But sometimes you just can’t beat the pleasures of a good old-fashioned bookstore.
And in case you haven’t noticed, NYC’s got plenty.
In celebration of the indie bookstores scattered all over our city, we’ve honed in on some of our favorites. From the sweetest smelling shop (coffee beans and new books, mmm) to the best one for spotting literary celebs, here are our top nine favorites.
Now tell us in the comments which bookstores get your vote.
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