I’ve made no bones about the fact that my favorite bookstore is the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan. Located on the corner of 12th and Broadway, it’s just a block or two from Union Square, which makes it easy to get to, since the Union Square subway station is a hub for many different lines.
I was just there last week when I traveled into the city for the Louise Penny event. My rule when visiting the city? Slot some time in for the Strand. Leave early if you have to, take an earlier bus or train, but get there. That’s not always possible, especially when I’m coaching a show, but I sure do my best to make it happen.
I’ve even taken the hour and a half bus trip into the city just to visit the Strand. It’s a craving, I tell you.
Why do I love the Strand so much?
Just look at the words on the awning. “Where books are loved.” “Old Rare New” and the well-known “18 miles of books.”
Where else can you find a bookstore that carries old, rare and new? In abundance? If I’m looking for a specific book, chances are I will find it there and not only will I find it, but I’ll usually have the option of used or new, paperback or hardcover.
There are four floors of books. Four. The third floor houses Rare Books.
There are shelves and stacks of books as far as the eye can see. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. And staff members are everywhere, so you don’t have to waste a minute of time looking for someone who can help you.
Note the words “Ask Us” on the wall in the photo below. That says everything.
It’s always packed with book lovers. It’s the kind of bookstore where you have to maneuver around others in a particular aisle, where you say “excuse me” as you look for that certain spot on the shelf, and where others willingly move a little to let you in. They understand, you see, because they are book lovers, too.
It has that wonderful old-building-in-Manhattan-bookstore-smell. And by that, I don’t mean musty. I mean that combination of scents that arise from wooden floors and wooden bookcases, from paper and bookcovers. It’s simply delicious.
It’s probably a good thing that I don’t live in the city. Because if I did, I would be in that store several times a week. I know that as sure as I know my name. I wouldn’t be able to resist.
I mean, how can anyone resist this place? It’s a slice of heaven, right in the midst of the teaming and bustling streets of Manhattan.
If you visit the city, make sure to reserve a morning or afternoon for a trip to the Strand.
Here’s their website.