It’s no surprise that the Village has a wealth of bookshops. Quaint, independently-owned stores that could pull even the most technology-addicted teenager away from his or her iPad, are scattered throughout the East and West Villages. It makes sense that bookworm staples like the St. Mark’s Bookshop or Three Lives & Company exist in the neighborhoods that Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg once called home. But beyond these lovely neighborhood gems are some quirky, niche bookstores that should not be overlooked.
One such store is Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks at 163 West 10th Street. Specializing in historic cookbooks dating from the 18th Century, New York restaurants and food, and Jewish cookbooks (just to name a few!), Bonnie Slotnick has something to offer for every true gastronome. In 2009, New York Magazine named it the Best Used Bookstore, saying, “thousands of antiquarian and out-of-print cookbooks line the walls of Bonnie Slotnick’s snug, slightly academic shop.”
In contrast to the cozy, country feel of Bonnie Slotnick is Partners & Crime Mystery Booksellers. Not far away at 44 Greenwich Avenue on the corner of Charles Street, this shop, with its fireplace and cavernous woods, exudes a dark, mysterious feel that is sure to get any sleuth-in-training in the mood.
Our next find is set apart by its name, which says it all: Unoppressive Non-imperialist Bargain Books, at 34 Carmine Street. Beside the impressive prices, which are made possible by luck and publishers’ overstock, the store is most famous for its huge collection of books on Bob Dylan. There are always at least 35 Dylan titles in the store at a given time and it is said that his fans travel from all over the world to check out this rare collection. As the Villager puts it, this shop offers selections on “everything from how to get around Sri Lanka and why marijuana should be legalized to psychedelic art.”
Moving east we come to Forbidden Planet on Broadway and 13th Street. Anime loving tweens and grown men in suits reliving their youth can be found strolling the aisles upon aisles of comic books. Some say the store houses the largest comic book collection on Earth. In true East Village fashion, this is a place where people are not afraid to express their inner-geek.
Going further East, we come to our last stop, 10 Thousand Steps Bookstore. Distinguished not by the genre of book that it sells, but by its nationality, this Hungarian book shop has an online book database of over 500 titles that can now be ordered world-wide. In a snug location in an East Village tenement on 12th Street between Avenues A & B, this understated storefront can be hard to miss, but certainly has a lot to offer.
Happy reading and don’t forget to tell us your favorite Village bookstore!