The Wordslave’s Pilgrimage – Strand Bookstore

Today I ventured into a somewhat steamy Manhattan in search of the booklover’s mecca Strand Bookstore.


Strand Bookstore. 18 miles of books, 50 shades of paperbound temptations.

Situated conveniently near my most frequented L-train stop, Union Sq., I was somewhat surprised again at my newfound proficiency to map and follow a route to a destination. I’m killing it here! Seriously, I’m excited. Feeling more and more like a NYC native every day. Well, almost.

Venturing into Strand requires two things. Firstly, patience – for almost nothing is where you think it would be and the place is huge, and secondly time – a logical compliment to the aforementioned.

The thing is, if you have both of these things, the journey is completely worth it. They even conveniently provide carts for you to wheel around your selections.

Which brings me to the third requirement. Restraint. Kid in a candy store doesn’t fit – because the inhabitants of Strand books tend to be mainly of an older, less hypoglycaemic variety – at least at midday – but I imagine a suitable analogy might be happy hour. If only Strand did a happy hour so one might consume their latest find whilst imbibing a suitably matched cocktail. Has anyone done that yet? Cocktail matching to books? Oh, but they should! Another trend forecast by yours truly – as always, feel free to rip off, just be sure to credit me via a tribute – or I will accept cash.

The variety is mind-exploding and I had to keep reminding myself that I am not in the business of collecting books, nor am I on the payroll of a benevolent benefactor who would smile, bemused at my purchases later “Oh, look at all those magnificent books you found. What a clever girl”. Etc.

Nor do I have a bookcase yet, in fact, though I do have several coffee tables (three, remember?) ready to be covered in neatly stacked, colourful spines of different sizes, twisting their way up to heaven.

I realised whilst browsing and making decisions on what I should purchase that I have an innate distrust of hard cover, bound books, unless they’re covered in plastic, and that I much prefer the ritual of either breaking the spine of a new paperback or creating my own fissures in a pre-loved, dog-eared, well-thumbed paperback. Am I alone in this? I particularly mistrust the bound, hard-cover, gold embossed varieties – whose contents rarely thrilled me as a youngster and in fact by their very impression precluded my ever touching them.

This love is compounded by the intimate experience of smelling a really old musty book.

Now, those who know me know that I was recently seduced by the Kindle, which I still own and which has been neglected since my coming to NYC. I must point out that my little electronic friend still has his place in my life, however he is now primarily a conduit for the pulp fiction of contemporary authors for whom I would be hard pressed to find a charming pre-loved version. It seems wrong to read classics on a Kindle. Just as it now seems wasteful to read a thousand page plus Youth Adult fiction in hard cover. I mean, really? Why do they even bother publishing Twilight in hard cover? Add to the questions I raise that are important and should be answered.

After much wandering and frustration (why are all the authors I like at the top of the 14 ft tall bookcases?) I edited my selections, took my stack to the check out and realised promptly I had still managed to spend around $50 today without even meaning to. I swear I should just put a jar at the door that I deposit money into instead of leaving the house..

I have also been seduced into joining yet another online fraternity, this time Goodreads via which I can share and you can follow my literary whims and errors. Sadly the site is currently “over capacity” due to a high proportion of geeks proselytising their reads but feel free to find and friend me. Failing that, ignore this post and let’s be done with it.

Here’s what I bought and why I’ll be doing not a lot apart from sourcing good cafe’s to read in for the next week or so.


Mmmmmmm smelly

I promise another adventure soon. I have a vintage clothes adventure brewing in me.

Strand Books 828 Broadway at 12th Street


2 Comments on “The Wordslave’s Pilgrimage – Strand Bookstore”

  1. Cassie says:

    I would have NO restraint in there. I mean just look at the windows – holy balls – I would lose my face in there. I’m so jealous you were able to explore. I hope you go back a thousand more times and I get to live vicariously through you. : )

  2. Rhiannon says:

    Not two days ago I was tossing up buying a Kindle, mostly as an alternative to purchasing bulky text books. It was not something I ever thought I would consider as I too love the romance & nostalgia that is conjured by that old musty book smell! Something that could only be attributed to a Kindle if it was left in the laundry under a soggy sports towel for a few weeks. The smell that is, not the romance nor the nostalgia!
    I also agree about hardcovers, especially those plain coloured ones with the gold embossing.
    Aah I pity those who have no idea that this much thought & feeling goes into books & see them only as “just a book”.

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