Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventures of a Bibliophile

Fall break. Two blessed words that came none too soon into a busy semester. My plans to go home to Jersey were accompanied by great excitement and days of not eating in order to stuff myself with as much of my parents' food as possible. A couple weeks before I headed home, my mother and I talked about spending a day in New York City, one of our usual haunts when we get some spare time together throughout the year. But what should we do? At first, we thought we would see a show on Broadway but my favorite Shakespeare play is coming back in November so we decided to wait. All our regular museums and exhibits were offering nothing new. We were stuck.
Then we had a conversation that went like this:

Mom: I have an idea!
Me: *sighs* Mom, I'm not biking. You already asked me that.
Mom: I looked up 10 best bookstores in the city. We should go visit them!
Me: Are you an angel?

One day I will write a blogpost (or two or ten) about how much of an influence my mother has been in my life. She is my greatest supporter, no matter what I choose to pursue. She listens patiently to my many obsessions with music, TV shows, and books and doesn't judge (I hope!) my immense love for fictional characters. She's the one who has accompanied me on countless book readings and author events and small out-of-the-way concerts of people she's never heard of. In the end, she's my best friend who I can tell anything to. So naturally, she knows me best. She decided we were going to spend a whole day going through bookstores in Manhattan just because I love them so much and would get a kick out the trip.
Did I mention how much I love my mother?
Anyway, we set out Saturday morning armed with bags to carry our purchases in and our handy-dandy booklist. First stop was in Chelsea: 192 Books. The store was smaller than we thought but well-lit and charming. I picked up a copy of The Circle by Dave Eggers, which I've heard good things about! Mom bought a few books as presents for the little people in her life.

192 Books in Chelsea

Next, we headed over to the most touristy bookstore by far: The Strand. You might have heard of this place; it's got three floors of books and it was crowded! We wormed our way through the bottom floor, picking up books that looked interesting or those that had been recommended to us by friends. But we really found our peace on the third floor, the rare book room. There were books dating back to practically the beginning of time. I didn't want to touch them for fear the pages would disintegrate between my fingertips. I don't know why more people didn't want to hang out up there but it was pure bliss. My favorite part of the rare book room? The smell. Someone has seriously gotta bottle that stuff.
Mom got a good laugh when I ducked into a nook full of books and declared that it is exactly what my heaven will look like!

Me in book heaven!

Our next stop was a used book store further downtown called HousingWorks Bookstore. It's completely run on donations. Every book has come from someone else, most of them well-loved and all of them looking for their next reader! There's a cute cafe where we ate lunch and rested our sore feet! I gathered up a few books for Christmas presents then spent a while looking for books for my mom's classroom at school. The selection of children's books was great! The volunteer staff at the counter explained that all the money goes into housing for the homeless and relief for people with HIV/AIDS. We definitely need to donate some of the cajillion books in our house to HousingWorks!

Outside HousingWorks!

By the time we got to the fourth and last bookstore, McNally-Jackson, we were pooped! It was busy also and only a couple blocks from HousingWorks. We wandered amid the tourists who were loud and obnoxious but then caught sight of something interesting at the front of the store. McNally-Jackson boasts it's own printing press! My dad is in printing but it was neat seeing the press up close. If anyone is interested in seeing their work self-published, check out McNally-Jackson! They also have a large downstairs where we found peace and quiet and more importantly, a bench to sit on!

I have my mother to thank for this wonderful day. The bookstores were amazing but getting to spend the day with her was just another memory I'll forever cherish.

Mama and me!

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, that sounds like a perfect day! Next time I am in NYC, I am going to try it! Love it and love you both! Ann