Book thrifting ‘haul’ at Westsider Books

A few weeks ago I hit up one of my favorite bookstores in the city, Westsider Books on the Upper West Side. It’s very old and creaky, with two floors (top floor is rare books), ladders that you can climb to get to the tippy-top shelves (a la Belle), and books that are stacked two rows deep. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then it’s probably behind that first row of books on the shelf.

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This is my favorite bookstore in the city because its atmosphere is perfect for slowing down, taking a moment to relax, and of course, because it lets you find books you didn’t know you wanted. They’re all used, and so they have that used-book character that I like. But if you come in here with a specific title in mind, you may not find it. Instead, something else jumps out at you, and you’ll take it home.

I came here with my best friend, and we found some great titles that I wouldn’t have put on my list otherwise:

Lucrezia Floriani, by George Sand; Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe; The House on the Strand and Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier; and The Letters of Charles Lamb: Volume One. 

I’ve read Rebecca and Daphne du Maurier’s short story collection, but none others by her, and of course, Things Fall Apart is a classic story I’ve been meaning to read for a while. The edition I picked up was a cheap reprinting for a college class in the 80s, and the book of Charles Lamb letters was printed in 1911. I love that. Oh, and these all smell fantastic.

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Book Lust | 'On the Road' and a Truman Capote novella

I have never read On the RoadNever. I can hear everyone thinking, “But what did you read in high school when all your classmates went through their rebellious/vaguely beatnik phase?” Answer? I read Jane Eyre. That was all the rebelliousness I had, summed up. Now I’m reading it, as well as Truman Capote’s novella Other Voices, Other Rooms.

So if any of you have read On the Road and would like to comment on your love/hatred/indifference to it or why it’s such a travesty that I waited until the ripe old age of 23 to finally crack open the cover of this iconic classic, leave your vitriol/support in the comments! Happy Sunday!

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Happy Memorial Day! Here, have a lovely poem by Lord Byron

Lord Byron is one of those poets everyone knows just a little bit about, but usually not enough to really get to know his work. So when I went to this used bookstore last month, I bought this very, very old collection of his poetry to get more acquainted with Byron. These are my favorite kinds of books: the ones that have seen fifty, seventy-five, one hundred years of being read by dozens of different people. Pages brown and peeling, with the spine only hanging on by a thread! They’re always so beautiful to me. This one wasn’t worth anything (I bought it for $6.50) but the charm is how old it is. The gold lettering on the front is my favorite part: IMG_0830

So, in honor of the rowdy Lord Byron, here’s one of his more popular poems, “She Walks In Beauty,” the first line of which I once saw printed on stickers around the city (it was really cool). Such a beautiful poem written by such a rakish fellow, the world’s first “rock star,” so to speak!

She Walks In Beauty
She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!
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Bookstore Hopping // The Golden Notebook in Woodstock, NY

I recently took a trip to upstate New York and found myself wandering around Woodstock with some friends. The iconic site of the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 is now a bustling, flourishing town full of musicians, artists and writers. On Memorial Day Weekend here in the States, Woodstock the Town throbbed with energy from street fairs, drum circles, flea markets, music and tourists, myself included. I also had the chance to stumble upon a bookstore called The Golden Notebook.

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I spoke to the owner of this awesome place, and she told me they feature a lot of local writers and books about the history of New York and the history of the town. The Golden Notebook is a labor of love that has been open since 1977, at a time of an economic recession when opening any kind of business was an enormous risk. It has been open since then! The owner gave me personal attention and started pulling books off the shelf that she thought I’d like. That’s what I love about indies.

I picked two titles, Goodbye to All That, a book of short stories about “loving and leaving New York” and Abigail Thomas’s book of poetic writing prompts, Two Pages:

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The exterior of the bookstore oozed small-town charm while the interior was warm and very modern. I especially liked the emphasis on local writers and the fun Alice in Wonderland window displays! I did lament the prices though; I usually buy secondhand and those two books hurt my wallet 🙁

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Support your local indie bookstores! Check out The Golden Notebook’s website and Facebook page.

The Rory Gilmore Reading List // Take the challenge!

Have you heard of the Rory Gilmore Reading List? It’s an exhaustive list of every single book ever mentioned on Gilmore Girls, and it’s something like 300+ books long. You can find the complete Rory Gilmore Reading List here, and check off the ones you have or haven’t read! I’ve personally only read 74 of the 339 books (22%) so I had better get reading!

Seriously, Gilmore Girls ended seven years ago and it’s still my favorite show. I’d like to pretend I don’t plan my mornings around ABC Family reruns of it, but I’m not a liar. I’d also like to pretend I didn’t wear out my first set of DVDs and have to buy another but you get the point. The show never gets old. The writing is pithy and intelligent, the characters are well-written and complex, and I think I learned half of what I know about obscure pop culture references from watching it. But the best part of the show, in my opinion (besides Jess Mariano), is the emphasis on good literature.

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and then there are Shopping Days…

Saving money makes me want to spend it. I suppose it makes sense. My little reward for skimping on clothes and driving around to find a meter with time already on it is that once in a while I can give myself free rein to shop, within reason. I bought a dress, a blazer, and a couple of belts. Then I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble and had coffee with my sister. I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

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I love the heart keyhole back on this white knit dress, and the blazer is fitted with ruching on the sleeves. I also indulged my inner girly girl with a couple of bow belts.

“What I found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”

Bookstore Hopping: Bruised Apple Books

I love visiting new indie bookstores, especially if they stock used books, but when it comes to Westchester/Hudson Valley, the choices are kind of slim. After some searching, I found a hidden gem in Peekskill: Bruised Apple Books. I fell in love with the pictures on the website and decided I had to pay a visit. Not only do they sell used and new books, but they also have an impressive selection of used and new vinyl, CDs, and a modest little collection of popular movies in DVD form. But books are the main event there, and they’re celebrated.

Warning: long post with many pretty pictures ahead.

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I also spoke to the owner and learned that Bruised Apple Books has been in business for 20 years, no small amount of time! You can tell how much books are loved here. The owner chatted with me a bit, gave me permission to snap a few pictures, and threw in a free button with my purchase! Bruised Apple has easily become one of the best bookstores I’ve ever visited (second only to the Westsider on the Upper West Side). I’ll be a frequent visitor.

This is the gorgeous music/media section:

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Aside from the usual collection of printed tees (which actually come in crop-top variations for the female crowd, an innovation I liked), Bruised Apple also sells little buttons like I mentioned before, vintage postcards, and the covers of vintage paperback books (mostly romance novels, which was fun!). These merchandise choices differ from the common tees-and-totes formula with sometimes a notebook or bookmark thrown in. There’s also an emphasis on travel, with a well-stocked new and vintage travel section and many, many pretty maps! It was beautiful.

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Their fiction section was small but remarkably well-stocked. Every genre is represented here though, from Fantasy and Sci-Fi, to travel, theology, spirituality, Children’s, even gardening. It’s really fun to peruse all the sections, each with an interesting decor. I could see myself coming back and getting lost in here for hours. I think I just might.

iI bought two books:

Winter’s Tales by Isak Denisen, and Helen of Troy, by Ruby Blondell, because I’m obsessed both with winter and with Helen of Troy.

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Book Lust: Lisa's Must Reads

I have been reading like a fiend so far this year but I still feel like I’m slacking, and also that there are too many books I want to read and only so many eyes I have in my face (only two). I’ve been dying to read these books. If you’ve read them and can offer insight, critical or otherwise, or if you have a fifty dollar bill you’d like to donate so I can buy these, let me know in the comments (I really should renew my library membership).

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1. Ender’s Game: my sister is teaching this book to her eighth graders and raving about it nonstop, and I’ll admit I’m curious about all the hype and controversy surrounding the film version. I’m never one to not read a novel/see a movie because of the personal beliefs of the artist. I believe art exists separate from its creator. Also, Ender’s Game is an undisputed classic and I’d like to experience it for myself.

2. His Dark Materials: this novel(s) is another example of being able to separate the artist’s own beliefs from the narrative and story. This trilogy is a classic fantasy piece of literature, and also happens to be a popular film. I’m noticing a pattern in my literary choices.

3. PAULO COELHO: i.e., everything he’s written. I’ve previously read By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and I loved it. I’m a third of the way through The Alchemist right now and highlighting every other line. Coelho has the ability to infuse a sense of magic into an otherwise mundane story. Santiago the shepherd and his journey to achieve his life’s purpose have me bewitched. I’m planning to read The Valkyries next.

4. 1Q84: I feel like I’ll need at least three weeks to read this tome, and I’d like to spend the necessary time with it. Hopefully I don’t put it off for too long. Maybe it’s a good plane read for my trip to and from Alaska next week. Being stuck on a plane is a great way to get some books read.

5. American Gods: I’m slowly moving my way through Gaiman’s oeuvre and loving every minute of it. Read what I thought of Stardust and Neverwhere while you’re here!

6. A Winter’s Tale: those sappy, beautifully-shot commercials for the film have made me want to read the novel. This desire may also be a symptom of the lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day feeling in the air, but I’ll take it nonetheless! I’ve heard great things about the novel, so hopefully I get my hands on a copy of this soon. (Also a movie!)

7. The Lowland: I love to read immigrant literature, especially if it’s by one of my favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri. I received the hardcover for Christmas and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

There’s nothing I love to do more during the winter season than bury myself in blankets and read, most often with some sort of spiked hot beverage 😉

My Christmas Lit & Fashion Haul

As you can probably expect, I got plenty of clothes, shoes, jewelry, and books for Christmas. Not too shabby:

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I love the print on this skater skirt, and the slight steampunk vibe of the statement necklace.

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Gilmore Girls on DVD, and some great books I’ve been salivating for: The Lowland, The Valkyries, The Alchemist, Neverwhere, Bellman & Black, and The Moonstone. January will be a month filled with great reads, so stay tuned!

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shoes from ModCloth and Jeffrey Campbell! Evangelina mesh booties, Flair-y Tale Boots, and Haute on Your Heels Booties

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And the coat from Modcloth I was waxing poetic about just a few short weeks ago…

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Haul ^ I’m ready for a long, cold winter filled with reading by the fire, plenty of scarves and boots, and some great hot chocolate!

Internships & Indie Books

Yesterday I began a new internship writing for Vibe Vixen, and it’s great to have a reason to put on real clothes in the morning: you know, like pants without dancing toasters on them. Actual clothes. Like these:

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Wait, something is missing.

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^^^That’s better. My train book: By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept. I’m thoroughly entranced by it so far.

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Sorry I look like such a goober: posing for pictures makes me awkward and I’m smiling so cheesy because my father (who took the picture) had no idea how to use my camera and it made me laugh.

What I love most about fashion/style is picking together really old pieces from your wardrobe and finding new combinations. Everything about this outfit is old, old, old but I have never worn them like this. Those burgundy tights from American Apparel have become so worn out but I still wear them basically every other week, and the taupe boots from Forever 21 need some love from a cobbler (I also have them in black). But being broke and interning means I have to recycle my old clothes and my staples and find new ways to wear them. I’m up to the challenge 🙂

And since it was my first day and therefore short, I thought I’d take some time to visit a new indie bookstore. I love finding new places and after a little searching, I found one centrally located on 47th Street between 5th and Madison: The Center for Fiction.

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It’s an indie and a non-profit, and they have a modest collection of Rare Books, a whole back storeroom of Used Books, new titles at 50% off, and a few self-published zines, as well as the now-common collection of printed tees and totes.

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What I found lovely about this place was the architecture of the building itself. It’s attached to a little office building so you can see the old elevators from the inside, nothing about the decor is overwrought, and it feels more like an eccentric collector’s home than a bookstore, which I’m sure is constructed but it’s charming anyway!

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I loved the Rare Books shelves. I found a book I wanted but it was $75. I think I’ll stick to used, thanks. The Used Books section was my favorite, which was definitely a storeroom they didn’t bother decorating, which is awesome. Bonus: no music playing so you get that creepy-quiet atmosphere conducive to book-shopping (I think!)

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All in all, I had a pretty good Monday.