Whether you’re finding the perfect gift for a reader of any age, or discovering a title by a new author, browsing through an independent bookstore is one of life’s great pleasures—at least, we think so.
Now more than ever, shopping locally is crucial to ensure the survival of our favorite neighborhood businesses. While shopping online has been the safest way to support local bookstores during the coronavirus pandemic, the days of relaxed in-store browsing will soon return, with many small shops already implementing safety measures to open their shelves.
Here are some of Williamsburg and Greenpoint’s most interesting spots to browse books, build your reading list, and meet fellow bookworms.
Archestratus Books and Foods
Archestratus Books and Foods (160 Huron St.) is the in-the-know foodie’s go-to for cookbooks, but it is so much more than just a cookbook store, offering food-related fiction and nonfiction, as well as an impressive array of Italian-imported groceries. During the pandemic, owner Paige Lipari has created a series of online events and community hangouts. According to the store’s Instagram, she plans to resume in-person events (including a rainbow cookie class!) as soon as it’s safe.
Book Thug Nation
Ever wish you could recreate the thrill of finding a forgotten favorite title while perusing a sidewalk book table, but, you know, in a store? Well, it turns out you can. Book Thug Nation (100 N. 3rd St.) is the brainchild of three former sidewalk booksellers, and the shop offers not only used books (with a focus on literary fiction) and a selection of records, but a community event space, as well.
High Valley Books
Despite its McCarren Park address, High Valley Books (882 Lorimer St.) might be the least trafficked spot on this list. The appointment-only shop is more archive than retail experience. Since 1999, owner Bill Hall has offered a treasure trove of used and rare books and periodicals on architecture, fashion, interior design, and more. Hall welcomes appointments for research, inspiration, and finding a gift for even the hardest to please design lovers.
Quimby’s Bookstore NYC
“No boring books,” promises Quimby’s Bookstore NYC (536 Metropolitan Ave.) on their Yelp page. The store delivers on that promise with a unique collection of indie zines, magazines, and small press publications that center LGBTQ, womens’, and minority narratives. Quimby’s regularly showcases the work of local artists and runs events like readings and book signings.
Polonia Bookstore (882 Manhattan Ave.) has been Greenpoint’s source authentic Polish literature and gifts for over 20 years. In addition to a huge range of Polish language books and periodicals, Polonia offers a beautiful selection of traditional gifts, toys, and exquisitely detailed handicrafts. Add a beautiful touch of Poland to your home with a one (or several!) of their vibrant ceramic teacups, pitchers, or dishes.
Spoonbill & Sugartown
Spoonbill & Sugartown’s (218 Bedford Ave.) cozy L-shaped space has two entrances and along with them, two distinct identities. From the street entrance, large windows show off the dazzling display of niche and hard-to-find art and architecture books for which the store is famous. Meanwhile, the entrance through the Bedford Avenue Mini Mall—marked by a rack of used books—leads to waist-height tables laden with an expertly curated selection of recent fiction and nonfiction.
Even while its doors were closed in the spring of 2020, WORD Bookstore (126 Franklin Ave.) kept its focus on the local community with virtual book talks and readings, and last May, they launched Word Association, an initiative in which 20 different authors donated 10% of sales from their titles to the social justice cause of their choice. In addition to an excellent range of regularly-updated staff picks, WORD has a ton of books and events to enthrall kids of all ages.