Tag Archives: bookstore

“Let’s all go down the Strand!”: NYC’s 18-Mile Book Store

Over the weekend, I made the sort of stupid decision that 27-year-olds in general, and I in particular, are famous for making. Despite having exactly no money and exactly one fever, I elected to go to New York City with some friends.

We had a good reason (or so I told myself at the time): there’s a haunted house there called Nightmare NYC, which was created by the editor of Weird Tales Magazine. If you don’t know why that’s significant, then give yourself a pat on the back. You probably have a functional sex life.


I couldn’t take any pictures inside the house itself. Suffice it to say, the event began with Typhoid Mary grabbing me by the hair and slamming me into a wall and ended with me drinking my first glass of absinthe (well, first two glasses–I had a but-one-get-one coupon) at a bar called Lovecraft. The latter promised to make me feel like a proper writer at last.

“Here I am,” I told myself. “In the middle of the city. Downing libations to the Green Fairy. Hanging out with prostitutes and the rest of society’s outcasts. Truth! Beauty! Love!”

Sadly, the night failed to devolve into an orgy of wanton sensuality. What happened instead was I got very drunk and watched a Syfy original movie in the basement. Still, it was a good time!


But let’s back up a bit.

We had a whole morning and afternoon to kill before any haunted housing could begin. And what better way to spend it than at The Strand Book Store, home of 18 miles of books?

Now, when I first heard of The Strand, I got things somewhat twisted and envisioned an unbroken 18-mile line of book stores lining a beach. Which would have been astounding, since Manhattan’s only 23 miles long. In actual fact, The Strand is one book store with 18 miles of shelves. That’s somewhat less jaw-dropping, but let’s be clear: it’s still stinkin’ immense.

The Strand Book Store

The first of the Strand’s three floors houses new releases and literary standards, while the second is mostly art and fashion books. The third, though–the third is where they keep the rare books.

And when I say rare, I mean “weird and also occasionally creepy.” In the spirit of Halloween, allow me to present some spooky things I found on the Strand’s top floor.

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Minerva the bookstore cat







Minerva the bookstore cat is 10 weeks old and lives at Off the Beaten Path Books in Farmington, Michigan.
I snatched her up because she was trying to knock a gigantic Stephen King book off a stand. Guess she’s not a fan of his later work.

Weird Finds at the Used Bookstore


While in Ann Arbor for the Everything is Terrible show last Saturday, my husband and I visited the terrific Dawn Treader Book Shop.  I love Dawn Treader–I tried to work there once.  An old man encouraged me to apply; then I went to turn in my resume and a different old man told me to forget it.  I have a spotty track record with old men.  Anyway, here are some books we found at Dawn Treader.

The first was the novelization of the George Lucas film, Howard the Duck.  If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s about a duck named Howard who spends two hours trying to nail Marty McFly’s mom and then fights the principal from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by driving a golf cart into him.  It’s dire–and that’s coming from someone who’s seen Manos: Hands of Fate at least ten times.

Someone sure did make a book out of it, though!


I don’t know whether Chanur is a satyr or an Arabian prince with strange taste in head wear.  What I do know is that this book somehow threatens our planet.  Maybe it’s actually a cleverly-masked hydrogen bomb that detonates if you say “Chanur” three times while looking in a mirror.


Spider Robinson is almost perfect, Ben Bova informs us, and I’m inclined to agree.  This book could be 500 pages of nothing but the word “moist,” and Spider Robinson would still come out smelling like a daisy, because his name is Spider Robinson, for God’s sake.

What is going on in this cover picture?  The nicely-dressed woman in the foreground seems curiously unmoved by the ill-proportioned Second Life avatar raising Hell behind her.  Why is he pitching forward and screaming?  Why are there bullet holes in the garage door?  Is it exploding?  Or is the man yelling because some neighborhood kids punctured it with lawn jarts?  Only Spider Robinson knows the answers to these questions.