26 April 2019

The Magic of Bookshops

If you love to read, and love physical books, you know the feeling of walking into a great bookshop.  It's home, it's a treat, it's heavenly...it's magical.  I make it a point to get to as many as I can, and to go back to the old favorites. It never gets old - and on a theoretical date, I'd much prefer a bookshop over a loud venue.

Not every bookshop is my favorite, though I don't believe I've ever hated any bookshop.  There are a few shops in Queens (a very few, but these are appreciated). but of these only Astoria Bookshop has my heart so far.  The rest are good - I refuse to be negative about any bookshop in Queens, unless of course the walls were bleeding or something - but Astoria has added coziness - it rarely feels crowded, but it's not empty either, and it's not that big, but I could spend time there comfortably. 

Brooklyn boasts a few more offerings - and two whole Barnes and Noble shops to boot - but I had grown quite fond of Book Court, and thought it tragic when they closed down.  I'd read that its sort-of natural successor, Books Are Magic, had appeared in Cobble Hill, but when do I get down there?  Apparently sometimes, because I found myself browsing its shelves contentedly of an afternoon or two recently.

Let me first get one thing out of the way: it is Instagrammable.   I intend to devote a whole post ranting about Instagrammability, but I too have Instagram, and I update it regularly, and can see the appeal of the outside mural and the gorgeous shelves and the friendly but not overwrought children's section for one's instaposts.  (A micro-rant: some bookshops I've been to have children's sections that were nice...but certainly not big enough for a proper children's event.  I found this out by stopping by in the midst of a children's event, and it was impossible to have a good browse, or even a quick shop.  It's hard, because you don't want to begrudge a bookish experience for the kids, but you don't want to scare people away, either.  I think Books Are Magic could pull of kids' events, though I'm not about to find out any time soon.)

Anyway, back to raving.  A weekday afternoon may not be the perfect gauge, but I found the shop not crowded.  No tumbleweeds, just the feeling that I could look around without bumping into anyone.  Plus, I didn't feel exposed.  Some places I've visited have a setup where I feel like the employees/owners are watching me - even if they're not.  It's a design flaw that I sense, but would not know how to correct.  Books Are Magic doesn't feel that way.  Had the whole space been littered with cameras I'd still feel the privacy that I don't elsewhere. 

There's sections for everything, though nothing particularly specialized from what I can tell.  But wait! there's a whole set of shelving devoted to New York Review Books.  I could have spent hours just browsing that area; that is, if I had the hours.  Woe is me!  In the end, I selected How Poetry Can Change Your Heart, which I can't wait to delve into (and so appropriate for Poetry Month!)  It's as pink as Peggy Porschen, so now I have a hankering for cake.  

Which reminds me: I passed quite a few bakeries and cafes on the way to Books Are Magic, and if I get that elusive chunk of time, would love to come back and explore places to curl up with new bookish acquisitions.

Subway Directions: F/G to Bergen Street.  You could take the 2/3/4/5 to Borough Hall or the R to Court Street if you don't mind a walk: and let's face it, on a beautiful day, an extra walk to a bookshop can be a delight.

Tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day, so it might be a good time to pass by if you're around - or to visit any independent bookshop you have nearby.  The world would be an even darker place without them.

It just pulls you in...

Browse away!

Feel like hanging out yet?
For the kiddies, or anyone who could sit on a bean bag and still be able to stand up again...