If you have ever turned the pages of a book describing the wonders of New York and its history, you will find the city to be out of a living dream. For any literature lover, NYC is a paradise of libraries, coffee shops, old book stores, and theater adaptations. Not only that, but there are a number of literary landmarks that you just have to visit, including the grave of the mysterious Edgar Allan Poe.
All this must seem heavenly to you if you are a lover of books. If yes, here’s a bookworm’s guide to NYC!
Checking Out Book Stores
The City is home to a multitude of independent bookstores that are famous all over the country. One of the most popular places to visit is The Strand, which is famed for its signature 23 miles of printed materials. Head over to the Rare Book Room while you’re there. A peaceful floor of rare copies and cheap prices!
Other book stores to visit are Greenlight, The Center for Fiction; which is popular for its selection of indie books and natural light; as well as Books Are Magic, which is author-owned. Don’t forget to go to the Mysterious Bookshop, a high-ceiling building that only stocks murder mysteries!
Make sure you take a little something from whichever store you visit. If you feel like taking a little token from the literary side of New York, you can pick up an old copy of one of the American classics.
If you are a first-time visitor, you might be surprised by New York City’s tendency to make everyday things and buildings into something extraordinary. The same goes for NYC’s signature public library. The New York Public Library has its stunning main branch on the east side of Bryant Park, and it has remained a haven for book lovers for more than a hundred years old.
Spend a couple of hours reading under the high ceiling of the Rose Main Reading Room. You can take an Instagram-worthy shot of the beaux-arts building alongside the library’s mascots, Fortitude, and Patience.
You can also head over to the Jefferson Market Library located in the West Village, and the Poet’s House Library in the Lower Manhattan area. Not only will you enter without a fee, but you can also explore volumes and volumes of verse—the collection boasts more than 70,000 of these collections.
Tucked cozily inside a museum, you will find the Morgan Library which showcases exhibits on authors, poets, and illustrators. If you are a dog lover, you wouldn’t want to miss the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog that stocks at least 16,000 breed-specific guides!
Literary History & Landmarks
There has been no shortage of great writers that walked the streets of New York. The city has always invited many writers to its streets; so much that you might even be walking a great poet’s footsteps without knowing! If you really want to be where one of your favorite artists was, you can make the effort of visiting their former home. If you pass by Hotel Chelsea, you will have gone where people like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac used to be.
You can visit Edna St. Vincent Millay’s home in Greenwich Village and Edgar Allan Poe’s last residence. The writer of dark tales stayed at Bronx Cottage where he wrote some of his most haunting pieces, including The Cask of Amontillado and Annabel Lee.
When you visit Central Park, keep an eye out for the Literary Walk that is lined with statues of famous writers, including Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. You can also find a memorial dedicated to Ralph Ellison at the Riverside Park. And if you are a Langston Hughes fan like most of us, visit the Schomburg Center in Harlem, which the last resting place of the poet and author.
Bars, Restaurants, and the Coffee Shop Culture
There are several bars in New York particularly sacred for writers. Some night spots are even considered the catalysts for masterpieces of literature. For instance, some claim that O. Henry wrote his famous short story The Gift of the Magi at Pete’s Tavern; in the second booth to be exact. You can also visit Minetta Tavern which was supposedly a comfortable hangout spot for e.g. Cummings, Eugene O’Neill, and Ezra Pound. A few streets down, there’s a place called Chumley’s where Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald had put a claim on table number 26.
If you are a reader, you are probably as obsessed with New York’s coffee house culture as we are. Take a nice book with you to any coffee shop nearby and feel what thousands of other readers and writers have.
It is even better if you’re looking for writing inspiration—what better to guide you than the spirits of artists gone by! Head over to NYC and experience your book world coming to life.