Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Strand Bookstore

Bookstore: Strand Bookstore

Location: New York, New York

Why I Love Them: The Strand is like Mecca for book lovers who journey to New York. In fact, if you ask someone about bookstores in New York the only store they're likely to mention by name is the Strand. It took me several trips to New York, including one trip where I ate lunch ACROSS THE STREET, before I was finally able to sneak away from friends, family, and other obligations to take in all this store has to offer. What's odd is when I walked through those doors I was simultaneously overwhelmed and unimpressed. Yes, they supposedly have eighteen miles of books but I will tell you any day, a better curated store is worth more than a store that has everything. In fact I'd go so far as to say I really prefer my local stores to this much lauded one. You'd think the New York Times would be a little more careful giving away the title of "the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores" but then again, I've been known to disagree with that publication occasionally. The three areas of interest to me were the basement, the labyrinth of review copies, the rare books floor, aka those you dare not touch, and a lovely display right near the entrance of leather bound limited editions and signed books. Yes, the main floor with it's shelves and shelves offered me nothing really to latch onto, I only saw books that were already adorning my shelves. The books in the basement were in bad shape. The books on the rare floor were too few and too precious, being up there made me nervous that I'd sneeze and owe someone a million dollars. The only section I really spent any time with was that display near the entrance...  

Best Buy: Because all good bookstores are smart to put leather bound books near entrances, because these are books that proclaim they are books. They are what we long to fill our libraries. They are the evolutionary end of books. You start with a manuscript, work your way up through paperbacks, hit hardcovers, and finally reach leather bound loveliness. And yes, I agree that it's odd that it's almost the complete reverse of how books are released, but that's just the way it is. They had Franklin Library and Easton Press limited editions, so many books that I just wanted to hold. But there was one book that stood out. My family has always been a huge Masterpiece No Longer Theatre Family. Even before I was born this was my parents favorite show, so I guess it makes sense that they indoctrinated me when I was young. Alistair Cooke and Russell Baker were icons in my family. Their introductions brought depth and human interest to the shows that followed. I will still never understand why PBS did away with these introductions and closing remarks, they MADE the show. But then again, they edit for time now, so suck it PBS. Now back to that book that caught my eye, it was Alistair Cooke's The Patient Has the Floor. And it was signed. This book is a collection of talks Cooke had given over the years and I thought my father would just love to have it. Oddly enough this might be the only "best buy" that no longer is with me. Or my father for that matter. While it was a great gift at the time, the truth is we love Russell Baker more and an Alister Cooke signed book resells quite well... so yes, sometimes books I once loved go away to make room and provide money for other books. Such is life.


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