Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Tour of Neighborhood Bookstores

Museum shop manager Katherine Broadway guest blogs about her favorite places to browse for books on the Lower East Side.

Book lovers worldwide have heard of The Strand and its 18 miles of used and new books up near Union Square, but the Lower East Side still has some bookstore gems that haven’t fallen victim to the recession. Our bookstore at the Tenement Museum has a wide selection of books on New York history and immigration, including a fantastic (if I do say so myself) children and young adult section. For a taste of New York bookselling at its finest, check out some of my other downtown favorites.

Just blocks from the Tenement Museum on Allen Street (just south of Houston) is Bluestockings, one of the last radical bookstores left in the city. A haven for socialists, hipsters, and all those who don’t fit in elsewhere, Bluestockings combines a wide selection of queer and feminist theory, radical political tomes, and homemade zines with a diverse fiction section. Check out their calendar of events, packed with happenings almost every night, and be sure to pick up a vegan treat from the cafĂ©.

The first time I set foot inside St. Mark’s Bookshop(on 3rd Ave between 8th and 9th Streets), I fell in love. The high ceilings, bookshelves reaching far above my head, and old-fashioned rolling ladders made me feel like I was in the private library of some rich old aristocrat. This is the kind of bookstore where you can spend hours tucked into a nook, dipping into as many books as you please. And they are open until midnight, so you won’t be rushed out.

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