Morning Stroll to The Strand Bookstore | West Village, Manhattan
A city in the morning holds such possibility. Unless it is in the dog days of summer the air holds the sweetness of a night's redemption and there is newness everywhere; store owners stand chatting with delivery guys outside of store grates and people are scurrying to work. Bagel and coffee shops run a brisk line handing out piping hot cups and bags of bread to customers.
A December morning in midtown, Manhattan feels a bit like an icy, still-beautiful matron. She has preserved her years well but everywhere signs of aging have crept in next to the new clothes and fancy front. One does not take her for granted however, and dresses to meet the day.
The Race of Joseph took to Manhattan early in the morning, perhaps early considering the delayed flights and late night before; 8 a.m saw us trundling down the streets toward the Strand Bookstore. Of course, one must not be so foolish as to tackle a book store without sustenance, so first we went to find the bagel shop The Striped Pineapple recommends.
But what ho! Here is a shop worth visiting, and so as to compliment the bagels nicely we popped in here for a splash of coffee.
Bagel Bob's is not what one thinks of in connection with a posh establishment. It is, in fact, quite the opposite: faded storefront, and a few little tables crowded into a room one can hardly remember afterward. It is not important because this is one book that shouldn't be judged by its cover. Just let that 55 cent sign draw you into its warm clutches.
On the signboard are the options for cream cheese, etc. One selects a bagel toasted or regular, and then adds a topping as pleased. We did please, and the cinnamon walnut cream cheese on a plain bagel I got on that first morning was heavenly. The place is tiny, but most people are simply stopping to get a bagel to go so we found a table for the repast. People squeeze in and out with delivery boys weaving a path through them, and behind the counter about 7 or 9 Italians rule the place.
But the bagels were ours.
THE STRAND - 18 MILES OF WINDING BOOKS
Having refreshed ourselves after a night's fast, it was a short jaunt over to The Strand.
The Strand is by no means the largest book store of its kind, but it does feel intimidating with its four floors and endless path of books. There is a floor for classics, a floor for kids, a floor for new books, and a basement with volumes of biology, law, landscaping, writing, and every other topic under the sun. There are shelves of staff picks, bucket list book displays, and used books galore. It is, in short, the place that one wants very much to see in a city, but has trouble leaving because there is no way as a tourist to haul around the books that one wishes to buy but can hardly leave behind.
It's a dilemma, I tell you.
I did buy one book, which I ended up carting around the whole day through the snow and excitement. But oh! It was worth it. If you buy no other kid's book this year, buy this one. The illustrations transport one straight into the magic of childhood with the poignant understanding of an adult. It's a rare combination.
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