We went to Strand Bookstore while we were in New York. I’d never been, first time.

Largest independent bookstore in the country, I think that’s what their sign says. It doesn’t matter because whatever their small print, it was a super awesome bookstore. Huge, multiple levels, and filled with that smell of paper and book dust that I love so much.

They had shelves, but lots of tables too. I enjoy books on tables. Tables say, “Come over here and pick me up,” more than shelves do. There were new releases, classics, books I’d never heard of, funny books, foreign ones, it was a party and I could have stayed there all day.

I’ve been to cool bookstores before. Had a love affair with the brick and mortar for a very long time, and I’m not sure one is better than the other. Some stores are small, some only carry specialty books or used books. The basic setup of a bookstore is the same. Sure you can get tea at a few or beer at others, but a bookstore is a bookstore, so I’m not sure why I’m so drawn.

I figured it out this past week.

I like bookstore people.

I don’t mind being surrounded by them, bumping into them while they are reading the back of a paperback, or dancing around because they’re a little crazy. Bookstore people are tote bag carriers, sandwiches wrapped in paper, smudged eyeglasses, last night’s mascara people. They’re upright sophisticates and a hungover hot mess all in one place. They’re fun browsing and quiet brooding, light and heavy. Bookstore people are my kind of folks. They are curious thinkers interested in an endless array of subjects. They’re hands on, messy.

Even the people that work there, that have to be there, are colorful. They wear weird socks, pin buttons to their vests, or have messed up hair on purpose. It’s almost as if bookstore people leave their inhibitions at the door. I’m not sure what kind of people they are out on the street, but in the bookstore, they can be about anything they want or nothing at all.

There’s no pressure in a bookstore, it’s about the books.

Could be I like my bookstore self more too. Maybe that’s why I crave the tinkling bell or the paper receipts no matter the city or the frequency.

Strand Bookstore was extra cool building, another great bookstore with more than my fix of the groovy bookstore crowd.

My thoughts from the laundry room. Nighttime Read.

Books learning life thoughts travel

10 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Yes, love The Strand! Thanks for the thoughtful meditation on bookstores. I love them, of course, as do most writers, but I also feel a great deal of anxiety while there, despite the lure of relaxation while browsing. Why? It must be because I realize how much I want to read, and it’s hard to settle down and enjoy what I am reading in the moment. I have had to sometimes put down my stack of potential purchases and walk out, too anxious to continue. Weird, I know. Yet, they are among my favorite environments.

  2. If I ever make it to New York, the Strand is on my list. My hometown, Victoria, BC. Canada, has a fabulous bookstore that sounds like The Strand.
    Russell’s Books on Fort Street is reachable up a flight of steep stairs where it opens into a huge loft that holds new and used books in bins, boxes, shelves and tables. A person can spend hours, wandering and browsing–dipping into any and every topic imaginable. And, if hunger strikes, there are over 20 eateries, including pastries and chocolateurs, scattered along Fort to provide whatever foods and/or desserts you may desire. Once your stamina has been restored, then it’s back to Russell’s for another book fix. Russell’s has a second store in Victoria, but Russell’s on Fort is my favourite! 🙂

  3. The only way for me and other ghosts to visit the ‘Strand’ as well as to visit other uniquely chartered establishments of books and music, is through the eyes and minds other authors such as you.’ Thank you kindly for taking us all there. I can get lost in such great and comforting book store, sometimes for hours and sometimes, decades, seated upon a high wooden bean of aged character, reading after book, and I suppose these places are where my carbon, my ashes as once bones should rest as ghost, secretly be sprinkled within the secret gardens, for what better places and things to haunt than libraries and hall and walls of vast magnificent published works of others…

    -And oh what whispers of literary poets and authors of past now as ghosts share… and again I thank you for sharing your favorite places of heart.

  4. I have a photo of the Strand on my “bucket list” Pinterest board. Hoping I will get there some day. I love your take on book store people and I totally agree. My dream would be to come into some money and use it to open a second hand books store with big windows and a cat. It wouldn’t need to be profitable. It would just need to be there for all the bookstore people looking for a place to browse. 😊📖

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