Nothing about 882 Lorimer Street indicates there is a bookstore inside, except for a small label on the buzzer that reads “Books (appointment only).” Bibliophiles, fashion enthusiasts, and design nerds in the know have been visiting the unassuming Greenpoint house, home to High Valley Books and its proprietor Bill Hall, since the 1990s. Down in the basement, visitors can scour overflowing rows of bookshelves packed to the brim with vintage books and magazines. It’s an experience that author and Untapped New York contributor Laurie Gwen Shapiro described as “heavenly.” Shapiro and Untapped New York’s founder Michelle Young spent last Monday afternoon searching through the stacks and chatting with the owner.

  • High Valley Books Greenpoint
  • Buzzer at High Valley Books

For first-time visitors, Hall gives a tour of the shop, which doubles as the home he shares with his wife and two daughters. Books appear in almost every corner. The living room is neatly curated with special selections displayed on floating shelves. A bright orange couch set against the windows serves as a backdrop for photographs Hall likes to take of his customers and their finds for Instagram. We made the page with our find!

  • Living Room at High Valley Books
  • High Valley Books

Throughout our visit, the buzzer went off frequently. Though many new bookhunters arrived during our appointment, we were allowed to stay as long as we wanted. Slow discovery is part of the process.

The true extent of Hall’s collection is revealed when you descend into the basement. Overall, there are more than 50,000 volumes. Periodicals, design books, and fashion are the main focus of the collection, but you can find a little bit of everything, from photography and gardening to literature, travel, and cookbooks.

  • Basement Stairs High Valley Books

As you search the shelves, Hall seeks to understand your interests, if there is a project you’re working on, or if there’s something specific you’re looking for. While the stacks may appear unorganized at first glance, Hall has a system and knows his inventory intimately. His daughters and volunteers help to keep the books in order.

Bil Hall High Valley Books

Hall can share the backstory of almost any tome plucked from the shelves. He is happy to chat with you at length, until he is pulled away by the buzzer, a question from his daughter shouted from upstairs, or the inquiry of another customer.

High Valley Books first opened in Hall’s Williamsburg brownstone in 1999 before moving to Greenpoint. According to the New York Times, the shop is named after his grandmother’s Massachusetts farm. Over the years, High Valley Books has garnered attention from high-profile clients looking to stock their personal libraries. Just before we arrived, Hall had sold 40 feet of books about New York City to a decorating client. While shopping, you might run into a local photographer, a famous fashion designer, or a social media star.

Abecrombie and Fith magazine at high Valley Books

During our visit, Michelle found a selection of Abercrombie & Fitch quarterly magazines that brought up memories of her previous career in the fashion industry when she worked for the company. Laurie dug for and discovered mentions of Amelia Earheart, the subject of her next book, in vintage magazines. Michelle ultimately went home with an issue of Vogue from November 1941 that featured a spread on the Vanderbilt mansion on Fifth Avenue.

You can search for your own treasures at High Valley Books by making an appointment via DM on Instagram or by calling the store’s phone number. You might not get in on your first try, but it’s worth the wait.

Though a rare entity, independent bookstores like High Valley can be found in New York City, and it’s always a thrilling find. Hall’s home called to mind our visit to Brazenhead Books, a speakeasy bookshop on the Upper East Side run by the late Michael Seidenberg. Whether you’re looking for cookbooks, comics, or romance novels, there’s a bookstore for you somewhere in the five boroughs.

Next, check out Quirky Themed Bookshops in NYC