Yu "Fish" Cui
6 Most Beautiful Bookstores in NYC
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
We live in a digital age where many people read electronically all the time. I never find myself reading efficiently that way. I love reading actual books. Every time I open a book, I feel like I am welcomed and led to a different world. Also, it is harder to get distracted. I am always in love with finding bookstores, knowing that there are fewer of them in the city each year. Now I've found a list of incredibly beautiful and well-curated bookstores. Each of them is super unique to me!
In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful bookstores, not only in NYC but in the world. It is located right outside of Central Park, next to the French Embassy, a perfect stop after visiting the Met Museum, or just when you are in the neighborhood. The bookstore offers both English and French titles, though the majority of them are in French.
This place is truly magical. I feel words hardly describe how beautiful it is. When you come to the second floor and look at the ceiling, you feel like you are in the center of the universe, surrounded by a galaxy of books. The room is rather dim, but the peaceful atmosphere calms you down. In the center of the room, there are some huge comfy couches. Albertine also hosts many cultural events. It is definitely worth a visit.
Address: 972 5th Ave, New York, NY 10075
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
If you love the combination of books and coffee, this bookstore will make your day. I would call this a hidden gem because it is literally hidden in between the narrow streets of Soho. The storefront is easy to miss, but as soon as you walk in, it's like a whole different world inside. This place is delightful for book lovers. It is one of the loveliest bookstores in the city. The interior is so classy: the staircase in the middle, the cozy lighting, and the green lamps. They have a fantastic selection of books arranged in different categories, which makes it easy to find what you are looking for. The ambiance here is very casual; you can find a book and spend an entire day here with tea or coffee. It all makes this spot a perfect choice to meet up with friends and chat. There are tables both on the first and the second floor. It feels like a library but way more chill because you don't have to whisper. I have been here a couple of times, and every time it is packed.
One amazing fact is that all the books here are donated, and the staff is almost entirely volunteers. All of their profits go towards individuals with HIV/AIDS. A great bookstore like this needs our support!
Address: 126 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012
Three Lives & Company
Greenwich Village is full of hidden gems. Three Lives & Company is one of them. On the website, it says "Three Lives is our living room, and a living place." This description is more than accurate. This bookstore around the corner is a dreamy, cozy, beautifully arranged place that makes everyone feel welcome. It's almost like there is a magic power that calms you down as you flip through the pages.
If you feel that some of the megastores like Barnes & Nobles are too overwhelming and don't know where to look for new books, this is a good place for you to discover some titles you might never have seen before. The staff here is super helpful and passionate about books. What could be better than spending hours among books and going home with something new?
Address: 154 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014
Alabaster Bookshop is the dream living room for a bookworm. This bookstore is small but crammed with so many books and giant shelves. It may seem a little loosely arranged with piles of books laying around, but I'm obsessed with this casual, vintage feel. The small space makes it feel super cozy. It is like staying in your own book world without any disturbances. A place like Alabaster is for people who like browsing through shelves of books until they discover something new, rare or exciting. They have a great collection of rare books. They also have racks outside for books that are in good shape and each only cost two dollars. This is also a great place to sell old books. Alabaster is just around the corner from Strand and often gets compared to it. I think Alabaster has a sense of intimacy because it is vintage and cozy. It is a nice escape from the city.
Address: 4903, 122 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003
Strand Book Store
Strand is the ultimate heaven for any book lovers. "18 Miles of Books" is not a joke. The store is huge, packed with books and more: music, DVDs, gifts, the iconic strand canvas bags. There is a pretty good chance that you can find any book in any category you want to read here, whether it is new, used or rare books. Wandering among the giant bookshelves is like going on a treasure hunt. Even if you've already had books in mind, you probably will find lots of surprises along the way. It is really hard to walk out with empty hands from Strand.
Besides buying books and gifts, you can also sell your books here. Give your old books a new home while bringing more back with you, isn't that amazing? Strand also holds incredible events monthly with authors. You can find all the information on their website. If you are around Union Square, definitely make some time to stop at this wonderful bookstore. Even if you are not in the area, I would say it's worth a ride to check out this heaven for book lovers.
Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Gucci Wooster Bookstore
Gucci opened up a bookstore in Soho on Wooster Street. This bookstore is small, but every detail screams "Gucci." It is quite spacious considering it is only part of the Gucci fashion store. The color palette in the design caught my heart immediately: red, green, yellow and bold floral patterns; everything is presenting Gucci's lavish style. The books are neatly arranged on the shelf. They actually have an impressive selection of books and magazines, from used books to rare books, photo albums to design and illustration books. The staff is super friendly and welcoming. They told me in details about the books they have there. This is no doubt a great place to find inspiration.
Address: 375 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012