“The Strand” is one of the oldest independent bookstores in New York City, a relic of a time when indie bookstores controlled the Upper West Side and Amazon was just a small startup website invented by a bald man. It boasts an impressive 18 miles of books, spread out over four floors. Aside from their massive collection of books, there are records, mugs, sweatshirts, snarky t-shirts, bags, and all-around collectible items that tell the world that you read books.
Those who shop there have a superiority complex for buying only from the greatest independent bookstore in the city, so naturally my friends and I decided to party hard on this, my first pilgrimage to The Strand this year.
It was my first time going into the city since the start of the pandemic, not including my family’s visit. Masked up, Chiara, Petra, Tyler and I, woke up early on a Saturday to make our way into the city. After nearly causing my friends to miss the train, we made it to Grand Central and then to Union Square Park.
While en route, I ate an incredible gyro from a street vendor, but had white and red sauce dripping down my arm and staining the inside of my shirt sleeve salmon pink. I ate it while walking through Union Square Park, where I suddenly wished that I was a good enough chess player to play there on weekends. Since it was Saturday, the street market was out in full swing and I bought lavender soap while my friends got white peaches.
We hit Chiara’s favorite shop in the city, Muji, where I bought myself the first pens of the school year, so that I can stop using the one that I definitely stole from the Hyatt Place. Then, at the Strand, after cleaning off my hands so that I could actually touch the books, I went in search of the books on my list that I made this summer.
The full, comprehensive list:
Dear Mrs. Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell- was written by Sarah Lawrence alum, Carolyn Ferrell, so I’m biased. I know very little about it aside from that, but I know that it was published very recently, the administration made an excited fuss, and now here it is in my favorite book store. I am really looking forward to it since it shows much promise.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger- Someone told me while discussing internships that in the story “Franny and Zooey” by Salinger, he references two students on a train who “were clearly Sarah Lawrence students.” (I know exactly what he means). The lecturer said that she liked to think that the two students were on their way into the city to work at their internship. The person sitting next to me and I promptly wrote the book title down and, lucky me, it was right there at one of the front tables when I walked into the Strand.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- Right beside it was a book I have always wanted to own. “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, is a novel about a young woman at a summer internship in 1906s New York. It chronicles the depression of the main female character, mirroring Plath’s own life. On a personal level, I feel like I need to read it. Aside from the fact that I’ll probably enjoy it, it is a classic, feminist novel and a story that I believe I’ll relate to.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo- I’ve also considered reading this one for a while. It comes highly recommended from just about everyone. It was massive bestseller and Harry Styles, being the male feminist that he is, apparently loves this novel. That is enough to have me sold. It was sitting right there beside many of the other books I picked up, so I decided to buy it for myself.
Dear Girls by Ali Wong- The famously raunchy comedian, Ali Wong, wrote a self-help book to give to her daughters, that answers some of the burning questions about womanhood. The topics range from her being sexually active in her twenties and being a female comedian. I wanted to read it, for no better reason than seeing what she thought was worth saying.
A notebook for school- Since it is becoming a bit of a tradition that I show up for each new year of school woefully unprepared in terms of school supplies, I bought myself my first notebook of the school year, one week into school.
I pigged out and bought nearly $200 worth of books and merchandise at The Strand. When I made all of my money over the summer, I knew that this would be one of the first things I spent it on. Aside from my books, I got a sweatshirt for myself, two mugs for Bobby and Mikaela (one of which broke in transit, but what are you going to do), book marks, and a postcard. I now have plenty of books to keep me occupied for the time being with this eclectic collection. The only question now is when will I finish them, seeing as to how the reading for my schoolwork will take precedence.
A Very well read Queen,