With the weather becoming drearier, the days staying short and the holidays being over with, activities are somewhat limited in the northeastern United States. In New York City, the coldest months of the year are January and February, which means a lot of bundling up and avoiding the outdoors altogether. While the city can be beautiful during the wintertime, especially before the holidays, it may seem like a bit of a drag between the new year and springtime.
However, one thing we can do during these colder months is hunker down with a good book, enjoying cozy moments while the snow comes down outside. While going to the movies or grabbing dinner with friends are fun ways to warm up, there’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a story, especially when so many innovative books are being published right now.
New York is the setting of many books. In all its nooks and crannies, there are so many spots to find yourself engrossed in books about the city or ones that take you far away. Of course, you can enjoy a good book anywhere. But why go just anywhere when instead you can cozy up in an elevated reading spot?
So stop by your local library or a New York City bookstore – or do a little online shopping – and grab a new read that works for you. We’ve found some of the best places to read in NYC for a couple of hours and get lost in a new book.
Warming up with a cup of tea (or coffee)
What’s a more classic combination than a cup of tea and a good book? Especially during the winter, enjoying a warm beverage while reading creates the best atmosphere. And New York is the land of coffee shops, with over 8 million people in New York seeking out caffeine to keep up with a bustling city. So snuggle up in one of these cafes for the ideal bookworm experience.
Effy’s Kitchen (Manhattan)
A Mediterranean cafe that serves up all kinds of food and drinks, Effy’s Kitchen shines for its espresso bar and atmosphere. On warmer days, Effy’s opens up the front windows and awning. But during the winter, it’s a cozy spot with both tables and booths.
You can order a mug of hot organic tea, a vanilla chai latte or decide among a plethora of coffee drinks, like the house blend coffee or a classic macchiato. With its warm lighting and compact interior, Effy’s is easily one of the best places to read in NYC. You’ll want to settle down here until closing time.
Address: 1393B Second Ave
Swallow Cafe (Brooklyn)
From its bizarrely elegant décor to its wooden benches and mismatched tables, you’ll feel right at home in this coffee shop that’s more like a wannabe antique store. With three locations in Brooklyn, this independent coffee shop is a great spot no matter which one you stop by.
They make their own vanilla syrup, which can be added to any drink – from the cortado to the hot chocolate to the green tea with lemon grass and orange peel. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time when you walk into Swallow, which is great for unplugging from the online world and enjoying some alone time with a book.
Address: Check out Swallow’s homepage for a list of locations
If a glass of wine is more your speed
Unwinding with a good read can be even more relaxing with a glass of something a little bit less caffeinated. If you prefer your books paired with a glass of wine or beer, then you’ve come to the right place. Some of New York’s best bars also offer the perfect atmosphere for a little reading action. So check out one of these best places to read in NYC and grab a drink.
While Eastwood gets a bit crowded later at night, early evenings here are peaceful and pleasant. With wooden booths and tables and a funky tile motif, this beer and wine bar makes for an excellent reading nook.
Their beer and wine selection change regularly, and the drinks menu is written on a chalkboard inside. So, every time you frequent it, you can enjoy something new to pair with your current book.
Address: 200 Clinton St.
Black Mountain Wine House (Brooklyn)
This spot is open from the afternoon until late at night, but you’ll also want to be an early bird here. With an extensive wine list, you’re sure to find a glass (or a bottle) of something you love. Their beer and cider selection is also diverse for those who are partial to a pint. Their charcuterie plate is also the perfect snack to nibble on as you get lost in your book.
The best part of Black Mountain is its roaring fireplace, which makes for the coziest experience you’ll find in Brooklyn. The rustic and simple surroundings here create the perfect atmosphere for avoiding distractions.
Address: 415 Union Street
Surround yourself with more books
Some of the best places to read in NYC naturally also house books. Surrounded by more than you could ever read, you’ll feel right at home cracking open your latest novel and settling in for the long haul. Chances are, you’ll be among many like-minded individuals.
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (Manhattan)
Housing Works is a staple of the reading community in Manhattan. It’s a nonprofit bookstore and cafe that supports funding and legislation “to ensure that all people living with HIV/AIDS have access to quality housing, healthcare, HIV prevention, and treatment, among other lifesaving services.”
They pride themselves “in being a great place to visit, meet friends, relax, read, write, and shop.” They’re also known to host weddings and special events. Among all these things, Housing Works is also a used bookstore, which means that all of the books on the shelves have been loved by others before being passed on. This spot is definitely worth a browse.
Address: 126 Crosby St
The Lit. Bar (Bronx)
What’s better than a bookstore? How about a bookstore that doubles as a bar?. If you love being surrounded by other readers – and by walls of books – then The Lit. Bar is worth a visit. This is a one-stop-shop for both a good book and a glass of wine; you don’t even have to bring your own book with you.
This bookstore also supports community literacy initiatives in the Bronx and “encourages curious readers and welcomes literary and community gatherings.” What better place to patronize than one that brings the joy of reading to others?
Address: 131 Alexander Avenue (between 134th Street & Bruckner Boulevard)
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