The Book Lover’s Guide to the Upper West Side

From Greenwich Village, where Jack Kerouac wrote “The Subterraneans,” to the Upper East Side, which inspired scenes in Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence,” Manhattan’s neighborhoods have a literary history rivaled by few other world cities — and the Upper West Side is no exception. Browse Upper West Side bookstores and libraries, explore the local literary culture, or maybe begin your own Great American Novel.

Independent Bookstores

The U.W.S. has three independent bookstores considered among the city’s best: Shakespeare & Co. and two locations of Book Culture. The first is the New York spin-off of the famed Parisian store that has appeared in films like “Before Sunrise” and “Midnight in Paris,” while the second is a favorite destination among artists and intellectuals at nearby Columbia University. All offer a vast selection of fiction, memoir, and other genres, and host events with leading writers. “Shake & Co.” also houses a café with tables where you can write.

World-Class Libraries

If you’re looking to read about music, theater, or dance, don’t miss the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts — the world’s best-known such library and one of four NYPL research centers. Pay tribute to the actor Billy Rose, the actress Lucille Lortel, the dancer Jerome Robbins, and other icons who endowed sections of the library, and peruse tomes containing scripts, sheet music, and more. We also recommend the beautiful library at the New York Historical Society, which houses significant manuscripts, books, journals, and other fascinating materials.

Central Park

Where better to read the book you’ve purchased or taken out than the world’s most famous park? Of course, Central Park in and of itself has quite a bit of literary history, so take a stroll on “Literary Walk,” at the south end of the Mall, visit landmarks mentioned in Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” or see a summer Shakespeare in the Park production at the Delacorte Theater — after admiring the adjacent Romeo and Juliet statue.

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Literary Walk in Central Park, New York City.

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