New York City has always had a reputation as a hub for the literary-minded. Storied establishments that still remain, like The Strand and McNally Jackson, are stocked with whatever your literary lust might need. But for when you’re in need of a quieter reading encounter, there are a handful of hidden bookstores in NYC that you might pass on the street without noticing the cave of wonders inside. And while some from the list may be small, don’t underestimate the generous selection that can fit in one hole-in-the-wall.
We started putting together this article back in 2019, before the untimely passing of Michael Seidenberg, founder of Brazenhead Books. We had been in the midst of communicating with him to feature Brazenhead when we heard the news. This article will conclude with a tribute to Brazenhead, though it is no longer in operation. It was a space that was characteristically New York, founded by a quintessentially New York New Yorker. So take a break from buzz of the city, and dip into one of these off-the-beaten-path but hidden bookstores in NYC!
1. Burnt Books, 1014 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn
Burnt Books is “open nearly always” according to one of their Instagram posts. This used bookstore is hidden within a bodega in Greenpoint called Green Discount Corp. Opened in July 2022, it was founded by Jason Mojica, owner of the nearby sister bookshop Hey Kids Comics!. The shop used to be marked by a spraypainted “Burnt Books” sign on the sidewalk, but now the giveaway is a wooden sign that points toward the shop. The selection of books inside encompasses a wide range of secondhand titles from classics by Hemingway to books on interior design, astrology, New York History, and more!