My bookstore tour of NYC

Bookstores in NYC

My family and I are just back from a quick trip to New York City. Manhattan, really—we were only briefly in Brooklyn and didn’t visit any of the other boroughs on this trip.

On this trip one of my big extracurricular goals was to visit as many bookstores as possible. Or, as many bookstores as possible without exhausting my family. Luckily, my kids were (weirdly) way more excited about visiting bookstores in strange cities than they have been in the past, so we got to visit a ton.

Here’s our tour. (Before you get too impressed at our bookishness, know that I’m including two bookstores we visited last October but didn’t make it to on this trip, because I don’t want YOU to miss them the next time you’re in NYC!)

New York City bookstore tour

Book Culture
Upper West Side
450 Columbus Ave (between 81st and 82nd Streets)
(More locations at 536 W. 112th Street and 2915 Broadway)

This is a fun bookstore with a neighborhood vibe that has a nice selection of books and a wonderful selection of bookstore sundries—journals, pens, gifts, mementos. It’s spacious by New York standards with lots of floor space and room to browse.

New York City bookstore tour

Books of Wonder
Union Square
18 W. 18th Street

What you need to know: longtime customer Nora Ephron used this children’s bookstore as the inspiration for The Shop Around the Corner in You’ve Got Mail. Meg Ryan came here to train for a day so she could play Kathleen Kelly. Their staff set up the bookstore set in the film so it would look authentic. Also: they have a pretty great selection of children’s books.

New York City bookstore tour

The Strand
Union Square
828 Broadway (at the corner of 12th Street)

18 miles of new, used, and rare books. This was my kids’ favorite, hands-down; they loved it so much we went twice. It’s not unusual to hear a book lover use the words “Strand” and “pilgrimage” in the same sentence.

New York City bookstore tour

West Village
266 Bleecker Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

This small bookstore in the Village has a highly curated selection, great sale tables, and as a bonus is right by Murray’s Cheese Shop.

New York City bookstore tour

Three Lives & Company
West Village
154 W. 1oth Street

This snug neighborhood book shop has an excellent selection and compares itself to 84 Charing Cross Road. It’s beautiful inside and out, but my kids only tolerated it because no kids books.

New York City bookstore tour

McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street

Two floors of books, a cool Espresso Book Machine for self-publishers, and a gorgeous café with awesome book art.

New York City bookstore tour

Housing Works Bookstore Café
126 Crosby Street

This was recommended by a fellow book lover as “the best kind of used bookstore”: used book prices + excellent curation. With gorgeous high ceilings and tall bookshelves, the store is so pretty people get married here. I can totally see why.

For next time: The Mysterious Bookshop, Idlewild Books, and anything you tell me about in comments.

What are your favorites? What would you add to the list? 

New York City bookstore tour


Leave A Comment
  1. Briana says:

    The Strand and Housing Works are my all-time favorites. I often find that I use Housing Works as a refuge since it’s so cozy and the coffee in the back is delicious.

  2. So much goodness here. I’ve been to all of these except Housing Works and I adore them all. I didn’t make it to the Strand on my most recent NYC trip, but we did hit Three Lives (where I ran into an author friend), Shakespeare & Co. on the Upper East Side (which is so lovely and also has a cafe), and Albertine Books (which is inside the French embassy and very quiet and elegant).

  3. Kimberlee says:

    This is perfect! Leaving for New York City tomorrow for the first time ever and I cannot wait to explore these stores. Thanks for including the addresses. 🙂

  4. Mary Kate says:

    So funny! Were you in midtown near Penn Station at all? If so, I may have passed you on the street–I saw someone who looked like you and wanted to stop and say hi, but then told myself, “why would she be in NYC.” Now I’m thinking it was you and I should have stopped you and told you how much I love this blog. (Or it was some stranger and I would have just freaked her out, haha.)

    • Anne says:

      That has happened to me before! I was never *extremely* close to Penn Station but I spent a lot of time in midtown. That would be too funny if we passed on the street!

  5. Lucille T. Ladky-Nuzzi says:

    Need to take a bookstore tour of NYC! Although, Books of Wonder was the Children’s Bookstore inspiration for The Shop Around the Corner …the design of the movie set store in You’ve Got Mail was inspired by The Corner Bookstore on the corner of 93rd & Madison….a great little bookstore ….walk in there & you’ll say ” oh my, looks just like Shop Around the Corner!” Thanks for great recommendations! ??

  6. Judy H says:

    Sigh….so jealous. Here in Helena, Montana, one of our few bookstores, Hastings, just closed. We do have one tiny new book store (very, very limited selection) and two used book stores. I have to drive 80 plus miles to get to the nearest Barnes and Noble. What a great trip through NYC.

  7. I have lived in NYC my entire life and am ashamed to say I have never been to ANY of these book stores. I’m about to give birth to my 2nd baby and next Spring I will take him and his big sister on a bookstore tour in the place we call home. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  8. Betty Dageforde says:

    The NewYork Public Library at Bryant Park has a wonderful bookstore/gift shop! Their reusable bags make easily-packable, inexpensive souvenirs for everyone back home.

  9. Susan says:

    Not a bookstore as such but as I too love books and bookshops, I often seek out different books while away.
    On the corner of Bleeker st as you move into the Meatpacking District, there are book tables as inba kind of book market and there are some fabulous finds here. A bit eclectic also.

  10. Rawles says:

    Perfect timing! My SIL and I (sister in law) are planning a bookshop tour of NYC for next month! Planning on The Strand, the Mysterious Bookshop, the one based on The Personal Librarian and now will have to add these! Might also need to add another day….. why I think I can do 5+ bookshops in one day (ie leave one after just a few minutes) is the biggest mystery of all!!! 🤣🤣🤣

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