Getting your books at Strand Bookstore is about as NYC as sharing a eyebrow raise and a smile with a cute stranger re: the old lady in front of you yelling at no one in particular about gloves. I had never gone to Strand until this past week, despite it being a short walk from my apartment. Aubrey put this item on my 28 Things list. She is an expert in cute little bookshops around the city, but Strand is pretty much the crème de la crème.
#23 Go to Strand Bookstore
I probably have about thirty books in my apartment that I haven’t read yet and I have a kindle, but I still love buying new books in the flesh. I, like Josh Radnor, think that one of the best ways to judge a person is by looking at their bookshelf, so I make sure to keep my shelves stocked with books about travel and art in case any strangers enter my apartment and want to know what I’m about. Some of these books are just clues to the person who I’d like to be, and not necessarily the person I am.
Strand Bookstore prides itself on having 18 miles of books which is about four times as long as I ran last weekend. The store has been around since 1927 and was originally part of almost 50 bookstores along 4th Ave between Union Square and Astor Place, six blocks once known as Book Row. When I walked in and started going back into the sprawling mazes of shelves, I was immediately taken back to my college library, which was one of the deciding factors on why I went where I went.
Strand carries over 2.5 million books, old, new, rare, bestsellers – everything you could ever want. They specify which books are cheaper in print than they are as e-books, have staff recommendations and reviews, call out the #1 book to make you look smart on the subway, and have tons of special-interest tables.
My favorite table was of course the New York table, where my future book will be featured one day. I flipped through a few new books I’d heard about, including “Mapping Manhattan,” which I purchased that day. I read it this evening in a quick and enthralling ninety minutes. The author, Becky Cooper, gave hundreds of Manhattanites a blank map of the city and asked them to draw their own personal Manhattan. This resulted in a book of 75 creative maps with people mapping out where they’ve lived, worked, dreamed, eaten, and played, but also creating works of art in the process.
I am definitely adding Strand to my personal map of Manhattan.