Finding my way to 18 Miles of Books

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I had the occasion to walk from the river framing Wall Street up, through the East Village, along Broadway.  It was a cold day, but the sun was shining, and I fell in thick with a happy feeling.  I had unwittingly dropped one of several things that I'd stuffed inside my coat pocket; a man ran it back to me with grace.  I sat alone in a restaurant grading student papers; the waiter was efficient and most kind.  I was on my way to meet someone with whom I've had a most cherished correspondence and was at last nearing her building when I saw the Strand Bookstore across the street, at a diagonal.  The Strand Bookstore? I ridiculously asked myself, jogging at once toward the red canopy and the fabled bins of one dollar books. 

Opening the door, I was at once engulfed by heavy-coated, floppy-hatted people swarming about tables of books, between the aisles of books, among the dolls and magnets and puppetry inspired by the fantastical or real of books.  I was having a bit of a hard time processing it all—I'd only merely happened upon it—and so I climbed the stairs to a mid-point landing to look out upon the vastness.  I was snapping this photograph when a young man came and stood beside me—two passengers, we were, on the book balcony of a ship. 

"And it goes on," he said, "and on, doesn't it?"

"It absolutely does," I said.

And may it always.


Beth Kephart said...

I did, indeed! A glorious book that I plan to write about this afternoon. :) A book I don't think I'd have ever found anywhere else. But more on that soon... :)

Maya Ganesan said...

How lucky! It sounds like such an amazing place to stop make me wish I'd paid the Strand Bookstore a visit when I went to NY 2 years ago.

Sarah Allen said...

Ooh! I've been to NY only once, but this was a must stop for that trip. We only had a short time so I was running around like a mad woman trying to take it all in, and had to pick up something off the shelves (which ended up being Madame Bovary.) Anyway, wonderful, wonderful place. Second only to Powel's in Portland :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Lilian Nattel said...

That many books in one place is fantastic.

KFP said...

Ah, the Strand: one of my most favorite places in NYC, absolutely.I once spent five hours there. I have plans to go there this year with an empty rolling suitcase that I can then fill with treasures to take home.

The $1 carts outside can keep you busy for hours, before you even get inside.

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