Monday, November 15, 2010

Brooklyn Bookstores: Part 1

There’s no question that Brooklyn is a literary borough. From the annual Brooklyn Book festival to all of the literary cafes, landmarks, and residents (see The New York Observer article “The Brooklyn Literary 100”), Brooklyn is a bibliophile’s dream come true.

This month, I reviewed Brooklyn resident Paul Auster’s latest novel, Sunset Park, which takes place in the neighborhood the book is named for. At one point in the novel, a character considers one of the merits of his neighborhood to be the proximity and access to a bookstore. If I apply that test to my own living situation, then my apartment in North Park Slope is prime real estate. Here are my five favorite bookshops in Brooklyn.

This week I’ll write about two, and next Sunday I'll write profiles of the other three.

Community Bookstore – Park Slope
143 Seventh Ave
(718) 783-3075

This bookstore is just a few blocks away from me and has a great back garden and children’s section. A cat named Sir Marjorie Lambshanks III, Esq. and a bearded dragon live in the shop, and there are a couple of book clubs held at the store, including Books Without Borders for works in translation and The Modernist Bookclub. The bookstore went through some financial troubles in 2007, but owner Catherine Bohne rallied her neighbors in Park Slope and got through it. According to Brooklyn blogs, she has apparently moved to Albania, and is in the process of selling her bookstore to someone named Ezra Goldstein. Read more about this recent development here.

Freebird Books – Red Hook
123 Columbia Street
(718) 642-8484

This bookstore is special to me because I heard about it from George Whitman, owner of Shakespeare & Company in Paris while I was staying in his bookshop and planning a move to Brooklyn. The original Freebird Books founders, Samantha Citrin and Rachel London had stopped by Shakspeare & Company the month before I arrived. Today, Peter Miller owns the bookstore and runs it in his spare time (his day job is Publicity Director at Bloomsbury). Freebird holds great readings, film screenings and BBQ’s in the summer. They also have a Post-Apocalyptic book club that meets in the shop, lots of used paperbacks, and a stellar New York City section.

Check back next week for more!

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