Every so often I take a trip into NYC to visit friends.  Ostensibly.  My friends would probably tell you that every so often I take a trip into NYC to drag them from one indie bookshop to another.   (No one complains, but I have detected some good-natured eye rolling. I’m always the first to say that I’m VERY fortunate in my friends).

In honor of the upcoming BookExpo America and the affiliated Book Bloggers Convention (see the sidebar) I’ll be highlighting some  of my favorite NYC Indie Bookshops during the month of May… the first of which is McNally Jackson on Prince Street.

I was over-the-moon excited to discover this new bookshop only 2 weeks ago on one of those aforementioned visits.  How did I find it?  Thank you for asking!  You see, I needed a raincoat.  My BGF and I headed for Soho to do some thrift shopping – and on the way we dropped into the RRL Ralph Lauren Men’s  Store (just because it’s awesome).   I asked a sales person  where the nearest bookshop was located.  He told us to stay on Prince and we’d find one a few blocks down on our left… which is exactly what happened!  (Lesson:  NEVER hesitate to ask locals for recommendations or directions.  New Yorker’s love their city, and love to share it).

So why, on such a short acquaintance, am I singing the praises of McNally Jackson?  Is it the cafe? The comfy chairs conveniently located everywhere?  The blog or the list of author events that has me envious of the locals able to attend on a whim?  What about the nifty bookmark that conveniently has space on the back for notes? (I am a complete bookmark snob, by the way, and McNally Jackson’s is in my Top 10).

Actually, it’s all those things.  Added to that, McNally Jackson has a fantastic selection of International Literature.  International Lit seems to be their niche, with the shelves in fiction organized by authors’ home country.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for their staff is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly.  They patiently helped me track down a copy of Ismail’s Kadare’s Three Arched Bridge (shelved in European Fiction).  I was also looking for Censoring An Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour.  They looked it up on their computer and found out it was between hardcover and paperback printings – the paperback is due out in June, which they offered to pre-order for me. (I managed to score a used copy at the Housing Works before catching my bus home).  I rounded out my purchases with Hilary Mantel’s Eight Months on Ghazzah Street which I was able to find all by myself in British Fiction.

McNally Jackson now forms the third part of what I have dubbed the “Bookshop Triumvirate” – along with The Housing Works Used Bookshop on Crosby Street and The Strand on Broadway.

And remember that raincoat?  Well, my BGF refused to let me leave the city without one.  She found me a short, military style jacket in a trench material that fit perfectly.  I wasn’t kidding, I really am lucky when it comes to friends.

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