Explore New York City

New York City Libraries & Bookstores for Literary Lovers

Open a book at one of these hidden gems.

New York City is filled with hundreds of stories everywhere you go, but what about the actual stories that can be found in books? Well, it turns out they have plenty of those too!

Best Spots for Book Lovers in NYC

While bookstores have been slowly dying out in other cities, New York City has several bookshops and libraries tucked within its blocks that hold every book you can think of and more. Step inside one to find an entire world of literature waiting just for you.

The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is a significant landmark in the Big Apple. It's easy to find thanks to the two lion statues named Patience and Fortitude guarding its doors. There are 92 library locations scattered around the city, but the main branch of the library can be found at the crossroads of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. You can find every genre at each location, whether you're looking for a thrilling fiction novel, a detailed biography or a story you can share with the kids. Some library locations even contain research libraries that are filled with books dedicated to a specific topic, such as the arts, original manuscripts and the history of New York City. 

The Lions Outside of The New York Public Library | WhereTraveler
The Lions Outside of The New York Public Library (©Jonathan Blanc/NYPL)

The Strand

You can easily get lost in the countless shelves of The Strand. That's because the bookstore has multiple floors of wall-to-wall books and shelves that would take up 18 miles if laid out in a single row! Many of the shelves are color or subject-coordinated, making your eyes pop the moment you notice them. The Strand is the last bookshop standing on Greenwich Village's former "Book Row," so it has plenty of history that can be found outside of its books as well. If your love of literature goes beyond books, The Strand also sells literary-themed merchandise such as mugs and tote bags. 

The Colorful Shelves of The Strand New York | WhereTraveler
The Colorful Shelves of The Strand (Courtesy The Strand Book Store)

Rizzoli Bookstore

If you're looking for something more upscale, stop into Rizzoli Bookstore. Located in NoMad, this bookshop focuses on books about all types of design, such as interior design, fashion and gardening. The shop also houses works of fiction and children's books, and it even creates a holiday catalog filled with its latest stories. If Rizzoli Bookstore's passion for design is something you want to take home with you, it can help with that! The shop can create a custom library for your home or office that is sure to tell visitors what type of book lover you are.

The New York Society Library

If you're searching for a more in-depth history of New York City, stop at The New York Society Library. It's the oldest library in the city and sits in the Upper East Side, where the classic decor helps you step back in time to another era. There's always a new book reading being held there, and the shop also hosts a "Digital Teatimes" for you to join and discuss your latest read. If you're looking for a quieter environment, there are several research and study rooms with themes based upon specific subjects such as poetry or rare books. 

The Shelves of The New York Society Library | WhereTraveler
The Shelves of The New York Society Library (©Beth Perkins/Courtesy The New York Society Library)

The Center for Fiction

One of the newest and most passionate bookshops in New York City is The Center for Fiction. The shop is a nonprofit organization located in Brooklyn that's entirely dedicated to works of fiction. They function as a library as well, so you have your choice of taking a book home temporarily or forever. There are always new events at The Center for Fiction to help foster a love of reading in the community, whether creative writing workshops, book fairs or panels with famous authors. The shop also has a program called "A Novel Approach," which sends you a year's supply of book recommendations based on your personal preferences.

The Mysterious Bookshop

If you're looking for an excellent mystery to curl up with, there's a bookshop in Tribeca that may have the answer for you. The Mysterious Bookshop specializes in all types of mysteries, be it a classic Sherlock Holmes case or a modern-day thriller. Several armchairs and sofas are set up throughout the store, so you can feel like a true detective while you sit back and try to solve the case. The shop is also home to the "Bibliomystery Series," an annual collection of mystery stories that can only be found inside the store. If you're a die-hard mystery fan, consider joining one of the shop's Crime Clubs, which are subscription groups devoted to the kind of mystery you like the most. 

The Shelves and Stacks of The Mysterious Bookshop New York | WhereTraveler
The Shelves and Stacks of The Mysterious Bookshop (©Charles Perry)