A Book Lover’s Guide to New York

Is there anything better than book shopping in New York? I definitely think it’s a pretty cool experience. This is a list of some of my favourite bookshops and interesting bookish places that I found on my travels. I tried to find some interesting bookshops to explore in various parts of the city.

Book Club

The Book Club is a trendy bookshop and wine bar in the East Village. The shop has a really calm atmosphere and is very quiet. It seemed like you could pick up a book and flick through it while resting in cosy armchairs. They serve locally roasted coffee and craft beer. The shop, that sells a variety of new fiction and non-fiction books, definitely has a homely feel to it.

The Drama Bookshop

The Drama Bookshop in Midtown Manhattan is a fantastic space for fans of plays and musicals. There’s plenty of choice including songbooks and guides on how to write. It has been open since 1917 and is now co-owned by Lin-Manuel Miranda after he stepped in when it was under threat of closure. I loved the decorations with the books floating above our heads as we walked around the room. Inside the glass cabinets there are first editions of plays. If you’re a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work, they also have many of his books in the cabinets and around the establishment. There’s a cafe and a place to sit and read in the shop too.

Barnes & Noble

I know this is a big chain in America but I couldn’t not visit it as I had heard so many great things about it. And I was in awe as soon as I walked through the doors and saw several floors of books. There are multiple Barnes and Noble shops in New York but I visited the one on Union Square which has beautiful architecture outside. They have every genre imaginable, games, magazines and more. Something that stood out to me was the selection of rom-com books – they have so many on display compared to what we have in the U.K.

The Strand

This is a really cool, rustic bookshop. I loved the layout in the shop, from the banned books section to the blind date with a book basket. The shop is very stripped back, with golden wood floors and shelves. They have some nice merchandise too, including bookish tote bags and signed books. It’s an independent bookshop in the East Village and they also have a second shop elsewhere in the city, as well as small kiosks in places like Central Park.

Housing Works Bookstore

I couldn’t pass the chance to visit the bookshop where Taylor Swift’s All Too Well music video was filmed! The Housing Works Bookstore, in Soho, is a really unique, non-profit organisation, run by a group of volunteers. The money made from the shop goes towards lifesaving services for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The space is available to rent and some people even get married here which I thought was pretty cool! They have a great selection of second-hand books, including fairly new and popular releases. The dark wooden staircase and bookshelves are really beautiful and they have so many books in various genres – including some comics.

The Corner Bookstore

The Corner Bookstore is located in the Upper East Side in a really picturesque area. The shop itself is quaint and lovely. They have a wide range of new fiction and non-fiction, as well as travel, poetry and cookery books. I liked the little benches they had by the windows where you can sit and browse through the books before purchasing.

Astoria Bookshop

Situated in Astoria, Queens, this lovely bookshop is a must. It’s a small, cosy bookshop underneath a train track. The interior design inside the shop is really cool, with an antique typewriter on display among a huge array of books. They have a great selection of children and young adult books as well as many new adult fiction. One thing that I love about this shop is the “Blind Date With A Book” basket where each wrapped book includes a surprise ARC (advanced readers copy). These aren’t for sale as a way for the shop to make a profit. You have to pay for them in cash (however much you want to pay, although it’s suggested at least $5) and the profits made from the ARCs sold goes to a local charity.

Reading Room

I was walking through Bryant Park when I stumbled across this bookish gem. A section of the park has been created to be an outdoor library of sorts. It’s a book lover’s dream. People can pick up a book from the many kiosks and sit and read for as long as they want. Lots of people we passed seemed to be on their lunch break enjoying peace and quiet to read their books. It all seemed very zen and super peaceful.

Astoria Socrates Sculpture Park

This isn’t necessarily a bookish attraction but if you are in the area or decide to visit the cool sculpture park then there’s a little cabinet where you can take any book if you replace it with another. It’s a perfect reading spot too – right by the waterfront.

New York Public Library

We searched for the public library with excitement but unfortunately didn’t love everything about it, particularly the fact you can’t see a lot of it. However, there are parts that are pretty interesting, including the free museum which featured the original Winnie the Pooh bear and Charles Dickens writing desk and chair. The architecture and the white marble walls and floors are beautiful too. It’s right by Bryant Park.

Books Are Magic

Books Are Magic is an independent bookshop in Brooklyn, owned by author Emma Straub. The shop has all kinds of books – from young adult, cookbooks, translated fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels and newly released fiction. There are a lot of signed books scattered throughout the shelves. I liked their staff pics selection by the fireplace too as they had some great recommendations of books I hadn’t heard of before. The space is really warm and welcoming and I could have stayed there for days. They also sell merchandise, including T-shirt’s and tote bags with the shop logo on. The area around the bookshop is vibrant – full of cafes, bars, shops and restaurants. They have a mural outside too for some bookish photo opportunities.

Queens Public Library

This might seem like a random one to include but I love libraries and think they should be supported. This one stood out to me because the library itself was actually shut when we visited due to refurbishments. However, they had a van lined with shelves of books right outside where people could still get their literary fix whenever they need to.


This is probably the poshest, most sophisticated bookshop I’ve ever stepped inside. It’s located in the Upper East Side, next to one of the many entrances to Central Park. It features French language and English language literature. The building itself is really unique and posh. Before entering we had to walk through security and a large marbled room. The ceiling at the second floor of the shop is enchanting, with a beautiful astrological illustration filling the space.

Other bookish places

We came across a couple of Korean bookshops in Koreatown too. They have a wide range of books, music and magazines, as well as many gifts, cards and stationary. The shops we went in were very bright and modern.

There are also a lot of statues around the city that are a nod to certain characters in fiction, including Alice in Wonderland in Central Park.

Have you visited any of these places? Let me know in the comments below.

I’m also on Instagram and Twitter – @bookwormgirl_24

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