This Spotlight on Bookstores is written by Kari, creator/co-author of Five Borough Book Review, a blog written by a dozen or so 20-something New Yorkers. Kari works in children’s publishing during the day, and reads and blogs in her spare time (I’m remembering back to my 20s – work all day, go out after work, and still have the energy for a productive avocation!). I just love the unique way this bookstore is organized, combining two of my favorite things, books and travel. What a great spot to shop, if only for armchair traveling!
I’ve spent all five of my years in New York as either a broke college student or a broke college graduate. And though books have always been my top extracurricular activity [and now my...curricular (?) activity in my 9-to-5], I’ve never really used bookstores as a means to procure material for my obsession. The poor 20-something quickly learns that, in New York, free is best, and I’ve become a frequent patron of the New York Public Library and customer of library book sales.
But there’s something about cozy, indie bookstores and New York. Think When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail…book lovers know the feeling that stores like the ones in those movies evoke, and it’s just not the same outside of the city. Thus, the first chilly afternoon at the end of summer inspired a quest to find a perfect bookstore to get me through the long, cold winter that I know lies ahead.
I struck gold. Two blocks east and two blocks south of my office, I found Idlewild Books. With a sidewalk sign beckoning me inside, I entered the doors and went up the stairs.
It seems to me (as unfortunate as it may be) that an independent bookstore needs an eccentricity that makes it unique, draws customers away from the less expensive conglomerates. And this quality is why I fell in love with Idlewild Books. Immediately, you notice a theme: travel! The shelves are organized by country rather than the traditional categories of fiction or nonfiction. Walk over to “France” and you’ll find travel guides, travelogues, and both fiction and non-fiction works that are set in the country…all grouped together! It’s like this for any country you could think of, and the store feels neat and friendly.
Idlewild is run by David, the owner, and Lewis, the buyer. One day, I spoke to Lewis, and he gave me the background and inspiration of the store. Apparently, David used to travel a lot for work and was tired of having to browse so many different sections of a bookstore to find books about his destination-it just makes sense to put them all together! In their selection process, they look for books that are considered “world lit”-books that will take you somewhere and tell you a story that you might not hear every day. A fun little extra is that they can create custom destination kits-a perfect gift for a traveler that wants a bigger picture of his destination!
I got home and described my find enthusiastically to my boyfriend, and he pretty much summed it up in a sentence (his brevity, as opposed to my verbosity): “It’s not a travel bookstore; it’s a bookstore for travelers.”
Now I just need to plan a trip.