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A Book Lover’s Guide To NYC

Picture of Ashley Jones
Ashley Jones
Updated: 2 November 2016
Writing, literature, and journalism enthusiasts strike gold when they arrive in New York City, as the city is the home to many notable authors, incredible libraries, and adorably quaint book shops. If your aim is to complete some sightseeing, bargain shopping, or first-edition book collecting, this list will be your essential literary map.

The New York Public Library

If you’re a book lover, there is no way you can pass up the opportunity to visit the fourth largest public library in the world. With collections totaling in almost 53 million items, the New York Public Library is the perfect setting for pure wonder and amazement for literary hearts. Obviously, the library is free and open to the public. Visitors are welcome to simply tour the building or work quietly in the halls. Be sure to plan ahead and check the library’s hours of operation, as times vary for different days of the week.

The New York Public Library, 5th Ave at 42nd St, New York, NY, USA, +1 917 275 6975

Strand Bookstore

If you’re anywhere in New York City, odds are you’ll spot at least a few happy individuals strutting around with red Strand Bookstore shopping bags. The store is incredibly well known and popular, and its slogan, ’18 Miles of Books,’ is incredibly accurate as the store and the outside carts, filled with an array of various genres of books, are seemingly endless. The store has been featured in numerous television shows and films, and if that doesn’t rock your socks, maybe the fact that punk poet laureate Patti Smith once worked there will!

Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 473 1452

 

Bauman Rare Books

Bauman Rare Books is the definition of a can’t-miss stop. Rarities are Bauman’s specialties. The books in this shop are pretty pricy, but for a good reason. If you’re a true book lover who simply wants to see some of the first sold editions of the greatest novels and stories, this is your place. This store has everything from autographed documents to artistic and historical archives. The staff is a pleasure to talk to, as they are a complete wealth of knowledge.

Bauman Rare Books, 535 Madison Ave, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 751 0011

 

The Morgan Library & Museum

Originally established to house J.P. Morgan’s vast collection of rare prints, manuscripts, and artifacts, The Morgan Library & Museum was made available to the public in 1924 after the death of the famous banker. In 1966, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. Infamous for incredible collections of rare artwork and vintage prints, the attraction is open for visitation every day of the week except Monday, for a fee of $18. Current exhibits include, but aren’t limited to, Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and Treasures from the Vault.

The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 685 0008

Housing Works Bookstore Café

Housing Works Bookstore Café is a nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers. The bookstore is everything a reader can dream of, complete with ladders on the shelves, spiral staircases, and the opportunity to grab a coffee and table to read your favorite novel. Most, if not all, of the books in this store are used and cheaply priced. Carts offering old classics for a measly one dollar are readily available to be purchased to decorate the shelves of literary connoisseurs. Throughout the week, the store is open until 9 pm, but on the weekends, it closes at 5 pm.

Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 334 3324

 

Left Bank Books

Despite its small size, Left Bank Books is one of the best bookshops in Manhattan. Left Bank specializes in first-edition books, many of which are signed by the author. Notable first edition novels such as Catcher in the Rye, In True Blood, and Seize the Day have graced the shop’s shelves. The books are decently priced, in great condition, and the knowledgeable staff adorably wraps your purchases. The store typically stays open as late as 10 pm.

Left Bank Books, 17 8th Ave, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 924 5638

The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

Instead of simply book shopping, perhaps you’d like to experience some attractions that are dedicated to the writers themselves. The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage is part of the Historic House Trust. The cottage is the original home of Edgar and Virginia and is the location in which Poe wrote some of his famous poems such as ‘Annabel Lee’ and ‘Ulalume.’ Visiting hours occur between Thursday and Sunday. For a measly $5, you can explore the home of the master of gothic murder mystery.

The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, 2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY, USA, +1 718 881 8900

The Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea, a historical landmark, has been a place of interest to many over the years. The hotel is a phenomenon, as it has curiously housed some of the most notable writers, musicians, and artists of the 1900s, been utilized as the setting for notable written works, and is known as the location for some unfortunate happenings for certain artists. If you’re an incredible planner, you may be able to arrange to stay in a room at the Hotel Chelsea for your New York visit. If not, this is still a cool, literary site to explore and capture some photos.

The Hotel Chelsea, 222 W 23rd St, New York, NY, USA, +1 616 918 8770

Shakespeare Garden

If you’re an admirer of the written word, odds are you’re in some way a fan of The Bard. Central Park is often one of the top destinations in NYC for travelers, as the vast space of greenery and tranquility seems so out of place in the bustling, nonstop city. Luckily for you bookworms, there are some cool literary stops in the large estate of trees and ponds. Shakespeare Garden is a four-acre landscape that includes flowers and plants famously noted in Shakespeare’s works. Sprinkled throughout the garden are bronze plaques that exhibit some of the most famous lines penned by the infamous playwright.

Shakespeare Garden, West Side between 79th and 80th Streets, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 310 6600

 

By Ashley Jones

After graduating from Carlow University in Pittsburgh this past spring with a B.A. in English and Education, Ashley moved to New York City where she currently works as an editor. She enjoys reading, writing, red velvet cupcakes, and getting hopelessly lost in her adventures around her new city.