The bookstore test: Strand Books, New York

I was on a discovery path in New York about a month ago.

I love finding the heart of a new city in its book stores, as much as I like returning to my childhood bookstore every time I visit my hometown of  Baia Mare, in Northern Transylvania.

Therefore I was happy when my smartphone buzzed, announcing a new tweet message – it was from New-York based, Toronto writer Cate Kustanczy. She said that while I walk Broadway Southbound I should not miss Strand Books.  Said and done!

The 2-level bookstore is a marvel!

On first level, you are completely sheltered between walls of books, but walking up the stairs one gets a beautiful ‘penthouse’ view, too!

And so the test started.

TEST #1: American mainstream

After smoothly melting into the mood, I applied my easiest test in the book to Strand: my American faves.

  • Yes, they have John Irving (which went also well with my Canadian heart, as Mr. Irving owns a house in Toronto)
  • They have Kurt Vonnegut, plenty.
  • Charles Bukowski is there, too, and not only with Factotum.

This test was a PASS.

TEST #2: American gems

  • Hunter S Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was not an easy find but was in stock.
  • A friendly employee was hanging on a stepladder in the “P” aisle just as I was looking for Richard Perez – The Loser’s Club, the ‘New-York Bible’ I read in a couple of nights a few years ago. All she had to do is pick it as an apple in a July tree

This test was a PASS.

TEST #3: the Europeans

This might have been a tough test for such a popular place, but I had to run it anyway.

  • There was no book by Romanian genius, Chicago University god MIRCEA ELIADE. He was largely translated in English, so not finding a mainstream Eliade was a draw back
  •  I looked for short prose by Swiss dramaturg Friederich Durenmatt: nothing.
  • Finally I wanted to see if the beautiful novels by contemporary French writer Michel Tournier are there. Such as “Friday and the limbs of Pacific”, a book I read every summer. Nothing.

This test was a FAIL.


I left the store filled with joy and definitely enriched by a New York space I would like to revisit for a closer look.
As I told Cate, while handing her “The Loser’s Club” as a gift, “I felt I could spend a day at STRANDS”.


Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.