New York City is a sightseeing wonderland for literature lovers. Fremantle Press authors Alice Nelson and Natasha Lester both researched novels there. Here are their favourite places for authors and book lovers to visit when in the Big Apple.
The New York Public Library
The exterior of the building is grand and gorgeous and more like a church than a library. Inside is just as magnificent. The Rose Reading Room is lined with long oak tables and bronze lamps and the ceiling is covered with frescos of the sun shining in a brilliant blue sky surrounded by fat, white clouds. Whether you’re there to sit down at the tables and do some research or just to have a look around, everyone is welcome to visit the Reading Room.
As well as being the green and tranquil heart of the city, Central Park has lots to entertain book lovers with. There’s the bronze statue of Alice in Wonderland, accompanied by the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit and friends; there’s the statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading from The Ugly Duckling; and the Shakespeare Garden, which is filled with many of the plants and flowers that feature in the bard’s plays.
Largely preserved just as it was 150 years ago, Greenwich Village has a distinctly literary pedigree. Find yourself a good plan for a walking tour and wander past the homes of and streets that were walked over by writers including Edna St Vincent Millay, Louisa May Alcott, John Dos Passos, Edith Wharton and Henry James.
The Frick Collection
Sometimes respite from the rush and bustle of the city is welcome. So while The Frick Collection has no direct link to literary greatness, it’s a wonderful place to be inspired and to find some peace. The Frick Collection is the former home of wealthy industrialist Henry Clay Frick, now preserved as an art museum. There are no barriers or ropes, nothing to stop you from walking right up to your favourite pieces and admiring them from all angles.
No writer can actually afford to live in Greenwich Village anymore so they’ve migrated across the river to Brooklyn’s hippest neighbourhood – Williamsburg. It’s full of tragically cool writers, artists’ lofts and gorgeous cafes, bars and shops.
McNally Jackson Bookshop (52 Prince Street, NoLita)
One of the world’s most beautifully curated and inviting independent bookstores. It has a fabulous cafe, dazzling line-up of readings and events and generally lots of exciting literary things happening. They also have their own print-on-demand facility so if you’re after something that’s not on their shelves they can have it for you within the hour.
The Strand Bookstore (828 Broadway/12 Street, East Village)
It’s not as intimate as McNally Jackson but the famed Strand is a mecca for book lovers. A sprawling, quirky store, it contains 18 miles of new and used books with an amazing collection of rare books upstairs. Bargain prices too.
The 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Ave/92nd Street, Upper East Side)
Nabokov, Auden, TS Eliot – anyone who’s anyone in the literary world has done a reading at this famous cultural institution. Current figures have included Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Paul Auster, Joyce Carol Oates and many more. Check out the line-up on their website. There are lots of other events, classes and concerts too.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Because New York is the city of our literary imagination, our writerly dreams, and there’s nothing quite like the experience of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and looking back to see the skyline rising up in all its glory and beauty.
Torrisi Italian Specialties (250 Mulberry Street, NoLita)
Writers are generally creatures of appetite and this tiny hidden gem of a restaurant is completely, overwhelmingly fabulous. Splash out and try their twenty-course degustation, which has been described as a gustatory love letter to New York’s ethnic neighbourhoods.