(Updated September 2009) While I've grown dependent on a laptop and iPhone, I'm sick of looking at laptops and phones on tables in cafés, even mine. I'd rather look at a cup of coffee, a spoon, a plate with pastry, and a book. I'm nostalgic for the company of people reading books in cafés. In the olden days, many of us liked to shop for books and then go to a favorite café to read or write. We never worried about the availability of electrical outlets or a wireless cloud. We sat down, ordered a cup of coffee, and then opened a book to read it. On occasion we would write down our own thoughts in a journal or notebook with a pencil or a favorite pen.
Like understanding the matching of a good cheese with a nice wine, I've devoted some time this week to contemplating the pairings of twenty bookstores or libraries with nearby cafés, most all of them within walking distance of my place in Greenwich Village. While I know a few of these bookstores include their own cafés (for example, Housing Works and McNally Robinson have good ones inside), I still have paired them with a coffee (or tea) venue nearby. In these pairings, geographic proximity was a factor, but I also considered styles, atmospheres, and temperaments. Sometimes, I factored in a few opposite qualities just to lighten things up.
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I have deliberately left out the larger chains in each category, because I truly believe that the health of our society and public culture would suffer should many of the places listed below fall off the map.
The Strand and Irving Place Coffee & Tea
828 Broadway and 71 Irving Place
St. Marks Bookshop and Spot's Café (closed)
31 3rd Ave and 18 St Marks Pl
Mercer Street Books and Think Coffee
206 Mercer St and 248 Mercer St.
Taschen Books and Joe's (at Alessi) (closed)
107 Greene St and 130 Greene St
Dashwood Books and Think (Bleecker and Bowery)
33 Bond St and 1 Bleecker Street
Bluestockings Radical Books and Sugar Sweet Sunshine
172 Allen St and 126 Rivington St
Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop (closed) and Joe's The Art of Coffee
15 Christopher St and 141 Waverly Pl
Non-imperialist unoppressive bargain books and Grey Dog
34 Carmine St and 33 Carmine St
Marc Jacobs Books and Magnolia Bakery
400 Bleecker St. and 401 Bleecker St
NYPL Mulberry Branch and Ceci Cela
10 Jersey St and 55 Spring St
Three Lives & Co and Jack's Coffee
154 W 10th St and 138 W 10th St
Shakespeare & Co. and Café Angelique
716 Broadway and 68 Bleecker St
NYPL Ottendorfer Library and Mudspot
135 2nd Ave and 307 E 9th St
NYPL Tompkins Square and Ninth Street Espresso
331 E 10th St and 700 E 9th St
Left Bank Books and Grounded
304 W 4th St and 28 Jane St
Partners & Crime and Tea & Sympathy
44 Greenwich Ave and 108 Greenwich Ave
NYPL Hudson Park and Grey Dogs Coffee
66 Leroy St and 33 Carmine Street
McNally Jackson and Gimme Coffee
50 Prince St. and 228 Mott St
NYPL Jefferson Market and Patisserie Claude
425 Avenue of the Americas and 187 W 4th St
Housing Works and Aroma Espresso Bar
126 Crosby St and 145 Greene St.
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