Even though it might seem as if independent bookstores are becoming increasingly few and far between, New York City still is home to some of the most unique independent bookstores for every type of reader. Independent thematic bookshops not only offer rare, specialty books, but they also provide patrons with a wealth of information on all sorts of unique topics. In this list, we highlight 10 of the most interesting themed independent bookstores in NYC that sell everything from romance novels to cookbooks.

1. Ripped Bodice Bookstore

Ripped Bodice interior long shot
Photo by Megan Kantor for the Ripped Bodice

To all the readers who make a beeline to the romance section of bookstores, Brooklyn’s new romance-only bookstore is the place for you. Opened in August 2023, The Ripped Bodice in Brooklyn is a sister location to the original romance-only bookstore which opened in Los Angeles more than 7 years ago. The stores are owned by sisters Bea and Lea Koch. With the baby pink exterior, fun calligraphy, and book pages sprawled across the wall, it is clear that Koch is a creative spirit. She says she loves “putting my stamp on a space and especially challenging people’s notions of what a bookstore should look like.”

Bookstores should be fun places to discover new worlds and socialize, which all come together in The Ripped Bodice’s calendar of exciting events, author signings, writers’ workshops, and book clubs. They started with a bang at their opening signing, having New York Times Bestselling author Casey McQuiston in attendance as well as award-winning author Alexis Daria.

The Ripped Bodice aims not only to create a great book-buying experience, but also to craft a space that facilitates learning, sharing, and conversation between the romance readers visiting the store. On the shelves, romance readers will see familiar favorites, but also a vast array of lesser-known books that may not normally be displayed at chain bookstores. Koch passionately states, “We always strive to create a space where everyone feels welcome, particularly the LGBTQ+ community.” Even if romance novels aren’t your thing, it is worth taking the trip over to 218 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY to look at the beautiful interior, speak with friendly customers, or even chat with one of the passionate minds behind this storefront.