New York: The Final Bookstore Ramble

This is Brian the cat whom we have been sitting these past three weeks. Brian is from Istanbul. His owners found him on the streets, took him in, and brought him to New York when they were transferred by their employers.

C.J. and I head home for California tomorrow.  It has been a wonderful three weeks in New York.  The best thing about an extended stay is that you don’t have to cram everything into one day.  You can get up late, have breakfast, see a sight or two, have a nap, eat in or out, maybe go to a show.  Normally there would be no down-time on a trip to New York. There’s too much to see.  This time, we could take our time.

All and all, there has not been that much in the way of bookstores.  We have been to two more since the last Bookstore Ramble update, but I have to say New York is not all that great of a destination for books.  If you live here, there are enough local independent shops to keep you thoroughly stocked, many of them carry titles I don’t see that often back home, and there is The Strand, of course.  However, as a book buying destination, New York is just okay.

That said, I did enjoy our two most recent bookstore visits.

First up is a little known used bookstore called Westsider Books just across the street from Zabar’s.  Westsider is an old school used bookstore.  Cases that tower up the wall nearly two stories–you can use the ladder to see the books if you’re brave enough.  Stacks of books on the staircase to the second floor, most of it is a bit dusty some of it a bit musty.  There used to be lots of stores like this one; the kind you were wise to take a flashlight to.

I found an affordable copy of The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara which I’ve been looking for for some time.  The clerk mentioned how much he liked the cover. I mentioned that I saw the book on David Bowie’s list of essential reads. He showed me the laminated store copy of the list they keep at the desk.  My kind of bookstore. I also picked up a used copy of Toby’s Room by Pat Barker who is one of my favorite authors.

Yesterday, we visited The Mysterious Bookshop which only sells crime fiction. It’s really a store for collectors.  Lots of hardback collectible copies, many of them signed.  They do have a good selection of new titles but it’s not as wonderful as Partners and Crime was.

I walked out with A State of Denmark by Derek Raymond and The Penguin Book of Victorian Literature edited by Michael Sims.  Both were priced in pounds, not dollars.  I point this out because it is one of the good things about book-buying in New York–the number of titles imported from the U.K. that we don’t get on the west coast.


This brings the book total to 13.

  1. Toby’s Room by Pat Barker
  2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  3. A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
  4. Nazis in the Metro by Didier Daeninckx
  5. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  6. The Expendable Man by Dorothy Hughes
  7. Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara by Frank O’Hara
  8. A State of Denmark by Derek Raymond
  9. The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness by Kyung-Sook Shin
  10. The Penguin Book of Victorian Fiction edited by Michael Sims
  11.  The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
  12. Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada
  13. The Reef by Jaun Villoro

Unless I find a few books I can’t pass up at the flea market today, that will be it.  Today, C.J. and I have to clean up and pack up but we’re going to the DUMBO flea market first and to a play afterwards.  We’re seeing Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure at the Brooklyn Academy of Music which is just down the street from “our” apartment.

Tomorrow it’s home to California.

Wonder what I should read on the plane?

5 thoughts on “New York: The Final Bookstore Ramble

  1. Glad you had a good time. We saw the documentary Kedi last night. It is all about the cats of Instanbul and we met about 7 of them with their great personalities. Recommended if you can find it.

  2. I’ve enjoyed visiting NYC with you – especially your bookstore visits. You’re lucky to have found so many indie bookstores. We have very few in Cape Town.

  3. Your post brought back wonderful memories of The Westsider, which I’ve visited several times. Between 1998-2003 I made several trips to New York and stayed each time in a hotel around the corner from it, so I could buy food at Zabar’s and eat in my hotel room. I’m so glad The Westsider is still there. Bought my copy of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy there.

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