top of page

The Best Bookshops to Visit During Fall in NYC

The leaves have started turning, the weather is crisp, and the themed drinks are out in full force. Autumn has finally arrived and with it comes a whole bundle of blankets and coziness. When it comes to this time of year, one of my favorite things to do in the city is visit bookshops to do some light reading, maybe a bit of work, and just have a nice cup of hot cocoa. If you’re anything like me, that means you’re probably looking for the next place to hunker down and do exactly that. Well, lucky for you because I’ve made a list (in no particular order) of some of my favorite bookstores with cafes in New York City to visit when the weather gets just right.

McNally Jackson Books

4 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038

Spanning two floors, McNally Jackson Books is an independent bookstore that has stories on every topic imaginable. From old relics to new finds, from used copies to ones that have just hit the shelves, McNally’s has an array for you to choose from. This gorgeous location is cozy, historical, and connected to a small cafe that will help you get into the fall spirit.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

126 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012

I think that my favorite thing about Housing Works is that it is completely non-profit. All of the staff members are volunteers, all of the books are donated, and 100% of their profits go to fund Housing Works’ incredibly important lifesaving services. On top of that, it truly is a gorgeous place to go sit and get some work done, especially with the fairy lights strung up inside.

Book Club Bar

197 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009

A quaint bookshop, the Book Club Bar is an amazing place to head to if you want something a tad more fancy to enjoy whilst reading. There’s coffee, wine, snacks, and other cocktails to choose from (and, sometimes, they have special drinks on the menu that are inspired by books). If you’re looking for a snug atmosphere to do work in, this place checks all the boxes!

Shakespeare and Co.

939 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10065

One thing that I find super neat about Shakespeare and Co. is that they print some of the books that are sold there. Yes, you heard that right! How cool is that? It’s also such a lovely environment to do work in, especially since the cafe and bookstore areas are slightly separated. If you’re anything like me, that makes it a lot easier to not get distracted by the various books that are begging for a new home.

Yu and Me Books

115 Delancey St. Stall #11, New York, NY, 10002 (temporary location)

Yu and Me Books is a small, independent bookshop that is owned by Lucy Yu and has a staff of about 10 people. In my opinion, it’s such an important store to showcase on this list, especially since it shines a spotlight on immigrant stories that don’t always see the light of day. Sadly, this past summer, there was a fire in the unit above them that caused significant damage to both the store and the inventory. But, fear not! With the help of the community, they are slowly rebuilding and currently have a temporary location you can visit (which is listed above)! If you would like to help Yu and Me Books continue to recover, I’ve included their GoFundMe below as well as the link to their online bookshop:

Bluestockings Cooperative

116 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002

Originally started as a feminist bookstore, Bluestockings Cooperative is a worker-owned location that actively supports the challenging of systemic oppression, unjust hierarchies, and the silencing of various communities. Plus, for those experiencing hard times, Bluestockings has a Free Store that provides food, drinks, clothing, toiletries, first aid, and other necessities to those in need. With a lot of the staff being openly queer and from various backgrounds, the space is incredibly welcoming and such a great area to spend an afternoon in.

The Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway at 12th Street, New York, NY 10003

A New York staple, The Strand Bookstore is one of the most iconic independent bookshops in the city. From new novels to rare ones, I can almost assure you that, whatever you are looking for, it will be at The Strand. And, over this past summer, they added a Brooklyn Roasting Co. in-shop coffeehouse! The place to go to during fall if you’re trying to simultaneously check off seeing some iconic New York locations.

Barnes and Noble (Union Square)

33 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

If you don’t know what Barnes and Noble is, I will admit, I’d be a bit concerned. Barnes and Noble is one of the most well-known booksellers in the United States and it just so happens that, here in New York City, we are home to the largest Barnes and Noble in the US! A whopping four stories tall, this ginormous bookstore is heaven for anyone who wants to get lost in mazes of stories. I’ll be honest, I tend to frequent here quite a bit to do homework. I love to sit in the bay windows in the cafe and look out over Union Square, sometimes eyeing stands at the flea market that I’m going to hit later that day (main character energy, y’know?). It’s a spot to visit if you want to get a nice view of the leaves changing color as autumn makes itself known.

Written by Ashley Lavalle

bottom of page