While we had heard that New York was a city that never sleeps, we were still surprised and delighted to find the St. Mark’s Bookshop open on a very late Sunday night. The shop, lit fluorescently, invited us in with the promise of thick foreign periodicals and well-curated book selections and we were not disappointed.
Here the esoteric blends seamlessly with the classic; glossy art books the size of encyclopedias peer over the thin Moleskines; philosophical tomes (think, Kierkegaard, Derrida, Nietzsche - you know the writers whose works you were supposed to have read but you may or may not have just skimmed the study guides instead) stare out at you with a gravity and a seriousness which demand your full attention. This bookshop is unabashedly academic: They even publish their own list of one-hundred books to augment the Modern Library List of 100 Best English Novels of the 20th Century. There are no ghost-written celebrity cookbooks sold at the St. Mark's. (Well, if they are sold here they are surely held behind the counter, their covers partially hidden from view.)
Old posters paper its walls and harken back to when East Village was an epicenter of the counterculture world. If you are an author, I imagine you know you’ve made it if you are lucky enough to find your work displayed on the shelves of the St. Mark’s. As a reader, I think that I’m just happy to know that no-B.S. independent bookshops like the St. Mark’s are still around.