Books Are Magic, Brooklyn

Cobble Hill’s Books Are Magic is officially my new favorite New York bookstore.  Owned by Emma Straub, author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers, Books Are Magic is everything I look for in a bookstore: it’s quaint and charming, with plenty of space to browse without being too overwhelming, and the employees are friendly but not overbearing.  From the whimsical outdoor mural to the iconic neon sign to the colorful, cozy kids’ nook, visiting Books Are Magic is a bookish experience unlike any other.

I visited Books Are Magic on a Friday afternoon, after a quiet morning exploring Central Park and The Met.  I’ve eagerly followed along with the shop on Instagram since Emma Straub first announced their opening, so I was really looking forward to checking it out for myself!  There were a few browsers inside, some with their dogs (!!), and a small crowd of children exploring the kids’ room, plus a great playlist in the background.  After exploring the shop for quite a while, and probably driving my family insane, I was happy to pick up a copy of Danzy Senna’s New People and an enamel Books Are Magic pin.

Not only does Books Are Magic have a great selection across every genre imaginable, but the shop’s atmosphere is unbeatable.  I could have spent hours inside, exploring every nook and cranny.  Books Are Magic is truly magical.

Books Are Magic
225 Smith Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231

Strand Book Store, New York

A New York City staple, Strand Book Store is the hot spot for all bookworms, tourists and locals alike.  Boasting eighteen miles of books, The Strand is one of the biggest bookstores in the city, and once you step inside, it feels like an entirely different world, completely free from the calamity of the streets and the stresses of everyday life.

I visited The Strand not once but twice during my visit to New York.  First, Monday afternoon, around four o’clock, when I walked over from the Flatiron District with the two interns I worked with all summer.  We browsed the front tables, recommending books to one another, and explored the Rare Book Room before delving into the stacks on our own.  (Afterwards, we got pizza, so it was basically the perfect New York afternoon.)  I found three books on the bargain carts in the fiction section and quickly snatched them up for myself- Less, Eileen, and The Art of Fielding.

I went back for round two with my family on Saturday night, after dinner, when the store was much more crowded.  I’d been to The Strand only once before, about a year ago, when I was in awe of and distracted by the sheer amount of books piled the space.  During this trip I found that I was able to get past the “oh my God I’m in The Strand” feeling and I could actually browse a bit easier, without feeling like a tourist.

Unlike other bookstores in the city, which are smaller with less-anonymous browsing, Strand Book Store is the perfect place to “get lost in the stacks,” as they say.  Visit this one if you’re looking to spend an entire afternoon browsing, in a place that feels so separate from the city.

Strand Book Store
828 Broadway
New York, New York 10003