Monday, May 30, 2011

Alabaster Books NYC

Things Like This Just Happen

Last month, when I was walking down to Chinatown from Union Square, along 4th Avenue, I spotted something curious under some construction framing. Of course, for me the word "curious" usually means that it resembles something bookish. And I was right. I crossed the street and found the quaint, little, and book-packed "Alabaster Book Shop." What a surprise and delight. The sad thing is that it is hard to see, though I'd have to guess that locals know the place well. It was a tight space, like any Manhattan business or living quarter. And the books were squeezed into every nook and cranny. Even in the windows, they had piled the books up. I was particularly taken with this massive tome of Armenian-Greek mystic, G.I. Gurdjieff (1866-1949), whose book here "Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson" is a fusion of Eastern and Western esoteric mysticism--it is also incredibly long and dense, coming in well over a 1,000 pages and joining the ranks of hefty Robert Musil-style books. I'll admit, I have a strange penchant for searching out the plumpest of tomes, as if they're some hidden delicacy, or truffle. So when I find a new one, I think "wow--how did I miss that beast of a book!?"

Already, the mild weather of the spring afforded the book shop to move some of its wares out on the street. Of course, these are usually the "bargain" books, selling often between $2-$5.

Above, we see some of the finer decor of the shop, and a nice old clock on the wall. Though, I think it was wrong! (I was there later in the afternoon, around 5:30PM). Below, we see the construction beams and protective shielding, which make the book shop slightly obscured. It's a good shop. And if you're ever between Union Square and Chinatown, stop by and check it out. There are a lot of interesting and uncommon books to find. And the staff is very pleasant, knowledgeable, and friendly.

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