A Lavish Literary Landscape

October 26, 2016

New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing the streets lined with books. After all, the Strand kiosks in Times Square and Central Park help pave New York with The Strand Bookstore’s famous “18 miles” worth of literature. This is the kind of erudite environment that those living in the Atlas apartment rentals near Bryant Park have grown to expect: a neighborhood with literature and learning on every corner. And, in fact, The New York Public Library flagship branch and a host of independent bookstores are just steps away from these NoMad apartments.


The libraries in New York—particularly the NYPL on 5th Avenue—have a history as distinguished as the city itself. When the main building (the imposing yet elegant Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) first opened in 1911, the library received its book deliveries by horse-drawn carts. Things have changed drastically since then—although the venue’s sense of history and gravitas still lingers, and the celebrated lions still guard its entrance. Welcoming over 17 million visitors a year, the Schwarzman Building houses 15 million items, including Charles Dickens’s favorite letter opener, Jack Kerouac’s crutches, and Truman Capote’s cigarette cases. Stand on the library’s storied steps and channel Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, visit an exhibition or author reading, or request a book to peruse in the reading rooms, where you might spot some of New York’s literati hard at work.


Slightly less famous but as admired is the Mid-Manhattan Library, just down the road from the Schwarzman Building. This cherished local library contains the largest circulating collection of books in Manhattan, and its “Picture Collection” includes more than one million print and online images. The library boasts bountiful power sockets for patrons with laptops and an extensive collection of DVDs, CDs, and classic and recent bestselling fiction on its shelves, where you’ll find the next page-turner for your fall reading list. According to The New Yorker, it is the library’s “waiting-room-at-the-end-of-the-world sense of freedom” that proves so entrancing.


For those with slightly lighter literary leanings, there is the Magazine Café on West 37th Street. Nestled close to Bryant Park, this mecca of magazines offers thousands of glossy covers from across the globe, with a particularly expansive selection of fashion-related reads. A convenient app allows customers to order magazines in advance of their visit, thus freeing up time to browse this two-story boutique with a cup of coffee from the in-store cafe.


New York City caters constantly to a global audience—a fact reflected in the variety of bookstores located in Midtown Manhattan. Kinokuniya is an Asian-focused bookstore, founded in 1927 in Tokyo by Moichi Tanabe, which now has over two dozen locations across the world. The Bryant Park branch is the latest stateside satellite and holds three floors of posters, literature, DVDs, and magazines from Asia, as well as an expanding selection of English-language titles. Tanabe envisioned Kinokuniya to “function as a center for the promotion of arts and culture,” and his very first bookstore housed an art gallery. That cultural purpose infuses the Bryant Park store, which hosts a quirky Japanese-style pastry shop and manga-infused mural.

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