We made sure to duck into the extraordinary Strand bookstore at 828 Broadway, New York, NY, and it was every bit worth the stop during our visit to the big city. I have a bit of an obsession with book stores, I’ll admit. There’s just something so inspiring about being ensconced in all that glorious literature. And the Strand might have provided the most impressive mixed offering of new, used, vintage, rare, and just plain fantastic books I’ve seen in a while.
Like most storefronts downtown, you instantly find yourself, along with all the many other patrons browsing the aisles, in likely violation of the fire code, but you don’t much mind the bustle because it’s the books that everyone is there to see, and as such, a sense of polite respect for one another flows unspoken through the space. I was immediately on the lookout for the Science Fiction, Fantasy section, as I’m always wont to do, but our group heads upstairs, where there are childrens’ chapter and picture books—great stuff; fantastic selection. I’ve got a thing for vintage hardbacks of sci-fi classics, and found a great copy of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island, featuring illustrations by N.C. Wyeth. I’d been trolling eBay for a copy of this edition for some time, so I couldn’t resist, and the famous art works of the Wyeth family are treasures to us Philadelphia, Delaware Valley folk. What an excellent addition to my collection.
Back downstairs, I finally find the Science Fiction and Fantasy sections, all the way through the length of the main floor, into the depths of the back left corner. It’s a glorious, cavernous area lined with makeshift shelves from floor to ceiling, built around old radiators and utility pipes, and packed to the gills with Lackey and Brooks, Asimov and Bova, Jordan and Heinlein, ahh yes, the good stuff! All my dear friends. I could troll these bindings all day. No matter where I’ve traveled, I’ve always been able to find a little slice of home in the SF/F aisle of any book store. Do you ever just slide out a book on your TBR list from a shelf in a book store, just to read the first paragraph? Ever do it with two, or three, or, ohhh, fifty of them? Yeah… me neither……..
I have a feeling this won’t be my last post on book store destinations.
If you’re in the Union Square section of the big city, take a walk along the Strand. You won’t be disappointed.
(Also worth a quick peek is the quaint Alabaster Books, just a bit around the corner.)