Pages with Patel, IV: Housing Works Bookstore Café

By Nishtha Patel

Via Lit Park

Housing Works Bookstore Café is a unique bookstore SoHo and one of my personal favorites. All of the merchandise is donated, the “employees” are actually volunteers, and 100% of the profits go to Housing Works, a nonprofit fighting to end the dual crisis of homelessness and AIDs in New York City.

There is an incredible selection of books that spans two stories. One can find anything from a large fiction collection to various specialty books including Middle Eastern history, gender studies, business, law, psychology, art history, and architecture. CDs, DVDs, old records, and comic books are among the gems you can find while combing through the store. The best part: everything is reasonably priced. There are discount carts where you can find books for 50 cents to $1. As for everything else, most of the books are around $8.

Walking in, there is a great table with “staff picks” that never fails to introduce you to new reads. In the back of the store is the café where there are always people working and reading while enjoying a cup of coffee. It is the ideal atmosphere for getting some homework and studying done.

Housing Works also hosts many events including high-profile ones such as book signings with Felicia Day or Grace Helbig. They also have StorySlams, writing workshops, comedy shows, and literary speed dating. This eclectic bookstore has so much to offer. In fact, they even host weddings—a true bibliophile’s dream.

The atmosphere in Housing Works is the epitome of New York bookstore and café culture. Cheerful music plays as people, surrounded by massive shelves of books, read and write while sipping warm drinks. It’s the perfect place to finish some work and peruse through an extensive collection while benefitting a great cause.

Nishta Patel is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email her at


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