Strand Bookstore—A Hidden NYC Paradise for Book Lovers

Times Square. The Statue of Liberty.  Empire State Building.

When tourists come to the city that never sleeps, they flock to these attractions where they take selfies and buy trinkets to validate their bragging rights. But often, they overlook the old, tiny gems that are buried under the swarms of neon lights and flashy tourist traps. One of these many gems is the Strand Bookstore.

Boasting a collection with “18 miles of books," the Strand, as it is lovingly called by many locals, is one of the few remaining independent bookstores in New York City. Books are everywhere in this treasure trove, where an army of carts filled with discounted books greets visitors before they even take their first step into the store. The moment visitors push open the door, they will find themselves in a beehive of book lovers buzzing with life. Workers with red lanyards scurry around, weaving through crowds and scaling ladders to ensure each and every one of the store’s 2.5 million books is in good hands. Customers young and old take their time perusing countless tables and shelves covered almost entirely with books of all shapes and sizes. The Strand is not just limited to books; they have a wide range of quirky novelty items like Hermione 2020 pins and glow-in-the-dark bags covered in constellations as well. With such a large range of items, no visitor to the Strand leaves empty-handed, since there is always a little something for everyone.

In each floor and corner of this store, there is a section for every genre imaginable. If you venture into the far right corner of the first floor, you’ll be greeted by towering shelves lined with books packed with tales of distant planets and dystopian societies. Climb up two flights of stairs and make a right, and that's where you’ll find all the latest graphic novels and volumes of comics. Walk further down a bit where there are shelves and shelves of young adult novels. Turn left and you’ll find yourself lost in shelves of art and design books. Another flight of stairs will lead you to the store’s rare books collection, which has a range of titles, including a signed first edition copy of Curious George Goes to the Hospital and first edition volumes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Every time I come to the Strand, I always make a beeline to the discounted comic book section. Growing up, I read countless volumes of manga. I was enthralled by the boundless amount of imagination and creativity poured into each and every manga series. Reading manga helped spur my love for art, as I would spend hours trying to draw my favorite characters. Although the results left much to be desired, the books gave me the motivation to continue drawing and to be the artist I am today. Being able to find a volume from one of my childhood favorites fills me with nostalgia as I remember the constant stream of doodles inspired by the books that would come out of my pen. What’s more, the books are often only $5 or even less, which is definitely a budget-friendly treat.  

With the sheer amount of books it houses under its roof, the Strand is a worthy addition to anyone’s bucket list. Next time you visit New York City, be sure to pay a visit to 828 Broadway at 12th Street!

 

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