For those visiting NYC Upper East Side, I recommend the following half-day trip, which happened to be my Monday morning. Start off with Breakfast at Café Sabarsky at 86th and 5th. It’s a quiet, Viennese style café in the Neue Galerie Museum. It has the distinct European café feel, where they make real caffè lattes (milchkaffee) and where one can sit with a Newspaper stick and enjoying leisurely reading. Café Sabarsky reminds me of my other favorite café in Berlin, the Literaturhaus Berlin. Like Sabarsky and as its name implies, the Literaturhaus café is designed for reading. And not the kind of reading one does with a highlighter or with the swipe of the finger, these cafés are the battlefields to tackle Joyce, Foster, Dostoyevsky, or Pynchon. None of whom I brought, since I had excellent company at the time. But I semi-frequently go to restaurants by myself just to read, which I recognize is not a normal habit…
So, after a European breakfast topped off with Sachertorte, walk down (or through) the Park to the south-east corner of Central Park at 60th and 5th Avenue. There you will find two kiosks. One, is the Vendy Award winning Belgian Waffle stand: Wafels and Dinges.
Skip that for now, since you just had Sachertorte, but remember to go back one day and try a waffle with Speculoos. Instead focus on the stand of one of the great NYC companies: The Strand Bookstore. This kiosk is a mere speck of the books offered in the main bookstore which contains over 18 miles of books and where one can order books not only by the author, but by the foot.
The Kiosk, open 10 AM to dusk April through December, weather permitting, is the reverent flame for the book against its barbarian attacker: the eBook. Even mentioned in this recent WIRED article, the book benefits from what the eBook readers lack: good
design. Now, I own a Kindle and it has its place for me, but there is something about browsing through table-tops of books at the entrance to central park. And if the location and availability hasn’t won you over, the pedigree of books on display will. Of course, at the kiosk, the Hunger Game Series and other popular fiction are available, but the majority of this corner shop is the boxes of half-priced (slightly) used classics. I had to limit myself to three: Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf (natürlich, I would try to read it in German, but Kafka is still difficult for me. And I tend to collect German books and not finish them. So, I really want to read Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann in German, but you see, I’ve just purchased these books…), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale, and The Redbreast, a Jo Nesbo novel.
While this may not be the itinerary for first time New Yorkers, stay an extra day next time to give this a try. Or, if you forgot to bring your copy of The Brothers K., try the trip above in reverse and pick up a copy at the Strand Kiosk on your way to Frühstück. As of Monday, there were three copies left.