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The Strand Bookstore in NYC

February 27, 2011

This weekend I went to New York City to visit some friends, eat some awesome food, and just enjoy the city. On Saturday morning, we headed to the Strand bookstore in Union Square, which was the most wonderful bookstore I think I’ve ever been in. Three floors of new, used, and rare books in the most amazing and open space. It was fantastic:

Starting out on the main level, I checked out the cookbooks, travel books and a wide selection of fiction. I ended up grabbing two books there, Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days and Best New American Voices 2010, which is a selection of the best “fresh fiction from the top writing programs.” Also on the main floor are a ton of cool items like Strand coffee mugs (got one of those), t-shirts (got one of those too), magnets, messenger bags, notepads, pens, etc.

Heading downstairs to the basement, I perused the sociology section, reading a really interesting book called Generation S.L.U.T., and then moved onto religion. I chose a few there and read a few pages before working my way into philosophy.

I then walked up the big main staircase to the third floor, where I stopped to browse through a book on Vermeer and look at the bookshelves below:

The third floor housed tons of art, design and photography books, but since it also included the very, um, “boisterous” I guess is a good word, children’s section, I only stayed up there a minute, before heading back down to the main floor. Back there, I saw this cool display of banned books:

There were copies of Harry Potter, The Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men and Huckleberry Finn. I thought this display was great and spent some time looking over the copies of all the works that have been somehow banned or censored in America.

I loved loved loved this bookstore. It’s huge and has such a variety of so many different books. The trip made me a little sad though because I saw staff members reshelving books, chatting amongst themselves, helping folks find books, cleaning up, and it made me so sad that I don’t work at a bookstore anymore. I really loved grabbing a coffee, chatting with my awesome coworkers, helping people find books, recommending books I loved. Watching the Strand employees at work just reminded me of all the things I loved about the bookstore. Maybe I’ll have to seek out a part time bookseller job again. We’ll see, I guess.

If you’re ever in New York City, I highly recommend hitting up the Strand. We spent two hours there and I’m not sure how you could spend less time if you’re a book lover. It’s completely worth seeing and buying a book as a NYC souvenir.

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