972 5th Ave
For all the Francophiles - or maybe just aesthetic lovers - out there, Albertine is a French-English (but mostly French) bookshop and reading room. Its most distinctive feature is its gorgeous blue-and-gold ceiling, painted with a giant zodiac and scattered with golden stars. Small but lively, it could be the perfect reading/studying spot if you want to get away from campus, though you’ll have to go through a security guard since it’s located inside the French Embassy’s Cultural Services house by Central Park.
2. Book Culture (on Columbus)
450 Columbus Ave
A sizable indie bookstore on the opposite side of Central Park from Albertine, Book Culture stocks the latest releases in all genres, with corners for poetry, young adult novels, mystery thrillers, and more. It also boasts a downstairs reading nook for children, as well as an extensive section for chic home goods. (Beware: their candles look amazing, smell amazing, and you will have to convince yourself that they’re not that amazing once you see the price tag.) Book Culture doesn’t have any spaces for reading, but it’s a great place to explore if you’re in Midtown!
Union Square/Flat Iron
18 W 18th St
Books of Wonder is primarily a children’s bookstore, but they also have a very extensive selection of young adult fiction as well. They also frequently host local/touring authors of children’s and young adult literature; I was fortunate to attend an author panel featuring Emily X. R. Pan, a debut author who also happens to be an undergrad Stern alum! Mid-sized and cozy, this is definitely a store to hit up if you’re around Union Square and have a penchant for fiction of every kind.
2. Rizzoli Bookstore
Housed in an elegant, refurbished townhouse, Rizzoli specializes in books on art, architecture, and fashion - though they also have sections for new and contemporary fiction/nonfiction. The ceilings stretch up two stories, the walls papered in whimsical patterns, and high varnished wood shelves on black-and-white tile lend the space a classic feel. This bookstore is certainly unique, and not one to miss.
52 Prince St
McNally Jackson has all of your book needs covered, across all genres and including both mainstream and indie imprints. As indie bookstores go, they’re fairly large, featuring a bustling cafe, a collection of notebooks and other stationery goods, and a sizable section for bargain books. Its interior decoration game is on point, with suspended model airplanes, hot air balloons, and artfully impaled books dotting the ceiling. Plus, if you don’t feel like buying any books, the Mulberry Street New York Public Library is just around the corner.
2. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
126 Crosby St
A few minutes’ walk away from McNally Jackson is Housing Works, which stocks a smaller range of books than the former, but also features more niche/special edition books. Not as freshly decorated as McNally Jackson, but cozy all the same with its all-wood interior, dark shelves, spiral staircases to a balconied second floor, and a large cafe space towards the back. Housing Works is perfect for studying or reading if you want a break from campus but don’t want to stray far from Washington Square; it’s quiet, roomy, and warm. For those trying to read on a budget, they also have shelves of $1 bargain books.