It’s easy to download a book, and Amazon has its moments for predicting what sort of book you might like based on a computer algorithm. But there’s something about the personal touch of a bookstore, particularly those neighborhood gems that work to build a sense of community with in-store readings, gatherings and other events. Wandering through the aisles of a bookstore is a profoundly different experience than browsing the web, and fortunately, Long Island and Manhattan’s neighboring boroughs are home to some lovely independent stores — who knows what you might stumble on when you walk in?
686 Fulton St. (at South Portland)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Greenlight Bookstore, just a few short blocks from the Long Island Rail Road at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn’s scenic Fort Greene neighborhood. It’s a beautiful, well-lit space on the corner of Fulton and South Portland and is an instant booklovers’ paradise. Since its opening in 2009, Greenlight has been a beloved part of the community, hosting scores of nationally bestselling as well as local authors, such as Pulitzer-Prize winner Jennifer Egan (who doesn’t live far from the store).
Brooklyn is a thriving literary community, and if you’re ever in town for a concert or sporting event at Barclay Center, stop by Greenlight Bookstore beforehand.
The Community Bookstore
147 7th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Located in Park Slope, Community Bookstore is one of Brooklyn’s oldest independent bookstores. Opened in 1971, the store is a fixture on 7th Avenue, where people can stop in to browse through its cozy aisles — and likely run into the store’s cat. The store prides itself on its sense of community, often donating to local schools and helping to pay for holiday lights each year. Books can be shipped almost anywhere in the world at a minimal cost, and they can order almost every in-print book.
BookHampton (3 locations)
41 Main St.
16 Hampton Rd.
50 Love Lane
These beloved independent bookshops located throughout the East End have provided plenty of reading solace to both locals and vacationers looking for something to read before heading to the beach, and the sunlit rooms are a pleasant place to stop while strolling through the villages. Booksellers here pride themselves on their ability to make personal recommendations, and the stores host many different readings, signings, discussions and workshops year-round. The East End is home to many writers, too, so a great place to check out and absorb the local vibe.
299 Main St.
Another waterfront independent community bookstore is Dolphin Books, located in Port Washington. The shop has distinguished itself as a neighborhood gem (it opened in 1946) which draws people all over, from Manhattan to the east end of Long Island. The Dolphin is a gathering place for readers and writers, and has hosted book readings and signings by authors and celebrities including Madeleine Albright, J.K. Rowling, Eric Carle and Tomie de Paola. They have recently moved to a new, more spacious location that allows for even more events like kids’ programs, book club meetings, fundraisers, poetry readings and concerts.
31-29 31st St.
Astoria Bookshop opened in August 2013, much to the delight of the surrounding community. Like many of the other stores on this list, the store has a book club, with books hand chosen by the owners. They promote local authors, with a link on their webpage devoted to them.
One local author the store is a fan of is Megan Abbot, who wrote Dare Me. Astoria Bookshop prides itself on carrying a lot of books by local Queens authors, including carrying the Newtown Literary Journal, dedicated to writers from and writing about Queens). They host a large range of events including weekly storytimes, author signings, readings and writing groups, poetry performances, writing workshops, and mindfulness meditation workshops.
Their website (www.astoriabookshop.com) not only shows a full schedule of events, but also accepts orders for either delivery or in-store pick up.
313 New York Ave.
Book Revue is well-known and beloved to the Huntington community, and wider. At 17,500 square feet it is one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. The owners work hard to create a space perfect for book lovers to browse, read and discuss books, and it shows in the store’s charming layout as well as the crowds it attracts. A cultural and social center for the community, the store provides workshops, book signings and children’s programs.
Upcoming events include appearances by Mookie Wilson (5/2), Jenny McCarthy (5/7) and Ruth Reichl (5/8). Events begin at 7 p.m.