The Happiest Place on Earth

No, I’m not talking about Disneyland.

I’m talking about this place, The Strand Bookstore, right off of Union Square.

The-Strand-1-610x325The Strand’s slogan is either “18 miles of books” or “Where books are loved,” I can’t really tell, as they have both phrases plastered across coffee mugs and book totes, but either way…you can tell this place is amazing.

Seriously, if someone was only in Manhattan for an afternoon, I’d say go to Central Park and go to this place. And you’ll have had a pleasant NYC visit. I saw on a sign outside The Strand that you can rent out the place for events — birthday parties, fundraisers, even weddings. Personally, if they started renting out aisles between the rows of books for you to set up an air mattress, I’d be interested in signing a lease.


Only sort of.


If you want to see me sublimely, transcendentally, euphorically happy, take me to The Strand.

If you want to see me deeply frustrated and ruffled, tell me I’m only allowed to buy one thing at The Strand today.

The Strand is a wonderful hodgepodge of new, used, and rare titles. They also have some of the most thoughtfully curated table selections, from “Best of Underground” to “Cult Classics.” There are handwritten notes sprinkled out of volumes here and there, detailing why this sales associate or that one suggests this read. Everyone who works there lives and breathes books.

It’s no Barnes & Noble. (And I love B&N.)

I paid a visit here last night to kill some time while waiting to meet up with a friend-of-a-friend (Caitlin, if you’re reading this, I have helped advance the cause for Post-Grad Employment of Minnesotan English Majors). I don’t need any more new books, but I was so tempted by a $7 copy of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies, which is on my non-fiction to-read list.

But, guys. I didn’t buy anything.

Not a thing.

And for that, I think I deserve a new book as a reward.

I did, however, add two more books to my to-read list: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, and Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin. So that only makes my to-read list, like, what? 2,948,204,982 gazillion books?


They have all sorts of cool book reading/discussion events every month, and I would love to attend one eventually. There’s this really awesome one next Thursday about the Beatnik movement — Kerouac, Ginsberg, Borroughs, and the whole gang — but alas, it’s on a Thursday.

Thursdays are my rescue cat volunteer days.

Don’t you hate it when your crazy cat lady side interferes with your introverted bibliophile side?

Seriously though, go to The Strand! Even if you aren’t a reader, it’d be hard not to find the perfect book for you in there, even if that means a colorful cookbook of 500 cookies recipes.

There’s nothing wrong with that AT ALL. In fact, I saw this, and I wanted it.



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5 responses to “The Happiest Place on Earth

  1. Sheila Kozmin

    Wow, Rebecca, what a great place! And, what a great blog entry! Loved it. Sheila

  2. How about the happiest post ever? (okay, I did yell at you for not buying The Emperor of All Maladies. $7 is an unbelievable price!)
    1) YAY for forwarding the cause of Minnesotan post-graduate work/people who love books and read more classy things! I saw you became fb friends and I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to “like” the friendship before giving up. Thanks for what I’m sure was excellent, sage advice! And for letting me do that.
    2) I have heard so many things about The Strand but now that I know it’s on your “go here if you only have a day in Manhattan” list I so want to go. *puts on list of things to do* I swear I am becoming a bookstore tourist, it’s a little crazy. (There’s this fabulous one in SF that I so want to revisit.)
    3) Can you trade shifts with someone or something to make the beatnik event? Or just wait for another awesome event I guess. I’m glad you’re hanging with the cats. Do you primarily socialize them or do you have other volunteer duties? (you’ve written about this right? I should check.)
    4) I cannot believe your self control. I literally have to have someone with me telling me I don’t need things in order to leave a bookstore empty handed. You are amazing.

    • P.S. Of course I was reading it. I love your blog.

    • For my volunteer work with Anjellicle Cats Rescue, I work with two other volunteers to take care of the cats who currently live at Petco in the Upper East Side. There are usually between 4-8 cats. We provide them fresh food and water, administer any medications, clean their litter boxes/cages, and yes, socialize with them! People also stop by to look at the cats, so we also try to answer any questions. People come one shift a week, every morning and every night.

  3. Pingback: Ailurophiles and cats

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