3. BookCourt (161 Court Street):

I recently went to BookCourt for a Junot Diaz reading, and though it took me a while to actually find the shop (probably more due to my inherently terrible sense of direction than to the store’s actual location), I was pleasantly surprised by the store itself. Complete with a whole basement level full of more books to choose from, BookCourt is pretty, warm, and has enough open space that you don’t feel claustrophobic while you’re browsing titles. Of course, this typically changes whenever the store hosts popular events–the Diaz event was so packed that my friends and I felt more like we were attending a rock concert than a literary reading. But what I like best about BookCourt is that bestsellers are always 30% off there, and that their staff recommendations are nearly always en pointe. And, if you’re in Manhattan and simply can’t make the trip (or just don’t feel like it), they also run a fully operational online store.