Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The View From Strand - NYC Book Crawl

Here at Read Furiously we are starting a new tradition:  book crawls

Think of it as a pub crawl, but with less beer and with more books.  As readers, we all understand the importance of frequenting bookstores - whether it is the indie bookseller, the used bookstore, or the megastore that sells toys, coffee, bargain books, bookmarks, the kitchen sink, etc along with popular titles.

Our first visit was Strand in New York City.  Located at the corner of 12th and Broadway (hours and full address can be found here), the walk from Midtown was just as much fun as the books.  Our journey took us past the NYU buildings, cupcake shops, and Washington Square Park.  

Strand boasts that it covers 18 miles of books.  That sounds strange at first, but one look at the storefront will change all that.  The area is mixed with newer commercial stores, independent shops and the usual Art Deco-inspired look represents New York; Strand BELONGS in NYC.  

If you can get past all of the cheap books set up in front of the doors and finally make it inside (because those books do look tempting), you will be rewarded with reader nirvana.  I recommend walking slowly through each aisle, visiting each floor, and speaking with the staff in order to get the most out of your Strand experience.  The ground floor offers popular titles, dusty volumes, fancy hardcovers, tote bags and cute reader accessories.  The second floor is for the YA titles, graphic novels, art books (I called this the "creative floor"). The basement is the academic selection.  Every topic for any discipline and the tables are organized in an easy-to-find fashion.  Most of the staff that I spoke to were NYU students (mostly English majors) who loved books and loved their job.  They LOVE to discuss what they were reading and they were eager to help me find any title.  There is something to be said about bookstore employees who love to read.  You don't get that with the megastores, but I guess that can be said about most indie/local stores?

Despite the 18 miles of books, it doesn't feel like an arduous undertaking.  Rather, it creates a treasure hunt where book-lovers can soak it all in before choosing their book selections to take home.  As always, I found myself wishing for more eyes so I can read every book that I noticed (and I don't care how weird that would look).  Thank goodness I was taking the train home - it prevented me from buying a ridiculous amount of books that I couldn't carry.   

Like one of my favorite places to go in Princeton, Strand offers popular titles, but it also offers many academic titles.  I'm not talking about the academic textbooks or peer-reviewed articles that make up my job, but the gender, cultural, social, political studies that make up very interesting books and ideas.  Everyone can benefit from these books - even if one does not see his/herself as an "academic."  If you wish to learn it, then read about it.  It's nice to see bookstores allowing this transition to happen smoothly and at the reader's pace.  

Just like the City, Strand offers a big adventure.  If you choose to go, be prepared for a place that makes books (and those who love them) a priority.  http://www.strandbooks.com/


--->  Strand has lots of really cute messages on their bookshelves.  This is one of them, and I have to admit, that I agree with it.  (this may also stem from my years as a bookseller back in college, where I spent a good two hours after closing cleaning up after the store patrons before I could get on with my closing duties).

What I love about this picture below is the comparison between the Strand price and the Kindle price.  I don't mind e-readers, but I did enjoy seeing how a good, tangible book can be cheaper than the technology we love so very much. Also, this is a great Zora Neale Hurston book.

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