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.