There's only one place that I made sure to visit every single time I came to New York City before I was a resident. It didn't matter how long or short my stay was, my pilgrimage to 19th Street, up a flight of steep stairs and into the hallowed aisles of Idlewild's second floor space was always a given.
Now that I live in New York City and only leave for assignments around the globe, there's only one place I frequent when I need more information about the destinations I'm about to visit -- on paper -- and that's still Idlewild.
Along the way, I've also taken a language class and a writing class in the bookshop's small classroom space. Both were far better than anything I experienced in college.
Travel books are not the only thing for sale, children's language books, works of fiction, memoirs and maps are also available. Most are organized by country and the system is very easy to figure out and almost too pleasant to browse.
Owner David Del Vecchio has a true gift for selecting the books he sells and an even better intuition for finding you what you need even if you aren't entirely sure what that is. He took the store name from the original name for New York International Airport, which was renamed JFK in December 1963.
Idlewild is open Monday through Thursday from 12 to 7:30 PM, Friday and Saturday from Noon to 6 PM and Sunday from Noon to 5 PM. Their phone number is (212) 414-8888. A second location is also open now in Brooklyn.