By Nishtha Patel
Any small bookstore lover knows that cramped spaces with books covering every inch is a winner.
Westsider Books (79th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side) is packed with books in every possible nook and cranny. Outside, wooden shelves and crates full of bargain books, records, comic books, DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs pull passersby inside. Seeing a variety like this, it’s hard to resist stepping through the doors.
Inside, the incredible amount of books may seem daunting at first. The shelves stretch from floor to ceiling, housing books behind books. Enormous shelves carry a selection of anything from literary criticisms to an entire corner devoted to mysteries. An old-fashioned moveable ladder is available on each side to access books at the top. On the ground, while walking through the already narrow space between the shelves, there are stacks to maneuver through .
There are even crates of used records by the music books. To keep up with the old timey feel of the store, there are vintage posters, from The Beatles to random characters, plastered on available wall space.
In the center of the room, there is a staircase, lined with books and VHS tapes, leading up to the second floor where the rare books are stored. There, one may find gorgeous leather bound books of vintage dictionaries or books about etiquette. Boxes are filled with vintage “zines” and other relics of the past. There is even a shoe box full of vintage post cards and playing cards keeping up with the classic theme of the second floor.
Different than the crisp and new atmosphere of Barnes & Noble and The Strand, this shop has the unique charm of a classic and vintage second-hand bookstore. Stepping into Westsider books makes you leave behind the clamor of the city and transports you to a retreat from reality filled with musty books and antiques. Not only do you find second-hand books for a decent price, you can poke around the vast selection to find cheap DVDs, CDs, records, and even VHS tapes (they’re not obsolete after all). At this Upper West Side gem, you can hunt for new books or soak in the nostalgia of days gone by — a charming quality that makes this small bookstore stand out from the rest.
Nishtha Patel is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.