Agree, esp. re: McNally Jackson!
#IndieThursday, an online event created by Jenn Lawrence to encourage support of independent bookstores, celebrates its first anniversary today. For those of you in New York, here are a few wonderful indie bookstores*—go buy a book (or many), make a friend, and hug your favorite bookseller:
- Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, 126 Crosby Street (SoHo)
It probably says a lot that I know Housing Works’s address by heart. A used bookstore with the greatest staff in the world (mostly volunteers), a continuously changing selection, engaging events (like tonight’s Feminist Ryan Gosling: The Book), and, oh yeah, 100% of their proceeds go to combat the dual crises of HIV/AIDS and homelessness.
Staff pick: browse the shelves and see what’s new
- BookCourt, 163 Court Street (Cobble Hill)
My neighborhood indie and home of L Magazine’s best Brooklyn bookseller, the one and only Emma Straub (captain of the national team for literary). You can also rely on 30% off their bestsellers and free wine at (most) events.
Staff pick: Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
- McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street (SoHo)
Not only is McNally one of the prettiest and friendliest bookstores in the city, but they have one of the best online presences of any bookstore, anywhere. Check out their Twitter and Tumblr accounts for recommendations and quips.
Staff pick: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
- WORD, 126 Franklin Street (Greenpoint)
Reliable recommendations and events, WORD and its staff recognize that literacy is a culture and a community, not just a private act. Well worth the trip to far away Greenpoint.
Staff pick: Daniel Fights a Hurricane by Shane Jones
- Unnameable Books, 600 Vanderbilt Avenue (Prospect Heights)
In this digital age, a bookstore without any social media accounts and a really outdated website might be easy to overlook, but this small used bookstore (with outdoor seating for events!) offers a great selection at great prices and a cozy atmosphere.
Staff pick: you’ll have to visit the store to find out
- Freebird Books and Goods, 123 Columbia Street (Columbia Waterfront District)
A bit off the well-trodden path for most, Freedbird is an incredible, community-involved bookstore with a one-of-a-kind post-apocalyptic book club.
Staff pick: Lost Everything by Brian Francis Slattery
- Community Bookstore, 143 7th Avenue (Park Slope)
Home of Tiny the Usurper—because if there’s one thing better than a bookstore, it’s a bookstore with a cat.
Staff pick: How Not to Read: Harnessing the Power of a Literature-Free Life by Dan Wilbur (creator of Better Book Titles)
- Book Thug Nation, 100 N 3rd Street (Williamsburg)
A used bookstore that will BUY your books ($$$ to spend on more books) with some of the quirkiest events in town, like Donny Quixote, a puppet show.
Staff pick: Seeds of Discent by Nic Esposito
- 192 Books, 192 10th Avenue (Chelsea)
This tiny bookstore isn’t a sit-and-read kind of place, but you will find a well-curated selection of art, design, and photography books—in addition to more standard fiction fare. Their small events calendar also boasts some impressive names (the Geoff Dyer/John Jeremiah Sullivan event was one my favorites this year).
Staff pick: Four New Messages by Joshua Cohen
- Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street (Ft. Greene)
One of the youngest bookstores in town, it quickly became one of the best. Greenlight offers top-notch events, discounts on staff picks, and is the official bookstore of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of the city’s greatest performing arts venues. Keep an eye out for Ft. Greene resident and novelist Colson Whitehead.
Staff pick: Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors**
- Bluestockings, 172 Allen Street (Lower East Side)
A radical bookstore and fair trade cafe, go to Bluestockings if you like your books with a side of activism: this store supports movements that challenge hierarchy and oppression, like heterosexism and the gender binary. They also offer educational programming and events like “BAM KABLOOM! Destroying Gender Stereotypes in Comics.”
Book club pick: Questioning Library Neutrality: Essays from Progressive Librarian edited by Alison Lewis
- bookbook, 266 Bleecker Street (West Village)
A really cozy store that offers tremendous deals—hardcovers and Moleskine notebooks (for the scribblers among you) are almost always 20% off.
Staff pick (…from last fall): Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
- Three Lives & Company, 154 West 10th Street (West Village)
You know the lovely, quaint children’s bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, in the movie You’ve Got Mail? Three Lives is like that. Per their website, it is “a haven,” “an anachronism,” and “a place for a human face.” If that doesn’t make you feel warm & fuzzy inside, get your heart checked out.
Staff pick: Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron
- powerHouse Arena, 37 Main Street (DUMBO)
A bookstore, a laboratory for creative thought, an art book publisher, a performance and events venue… there are few things powerHouse doesn’t do (and do excellently). If the books and events aren’t enough of a draw, go for DUMBO’s cobblestones, the iced coffee & treats across the street at One Girl Cookies, and the views from Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Staff pick: Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen
And please keep in mind: independent bookstores are NOT Amazon showrooms.
*not a comprehensive list
**not to be confused with the Bill Murray character
Learn it, live it, love it.