One of my favorite things to do in NYC is to attend book readings. Being that NYC is the publishing and literary center of the US, there are many opportunities to see and hear your favorite authors read aloud from a recent publication. Many of these readings are free or close to being free. You can find info about readings online at TimeOut NY.
I attend a reading of Significant Objects at the Strand Bookstore. I had heard of the Significant Objects project a few years ago. Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn convinced several authors to write short stories for random kitschy objects that they had purchased at a thrift shop or swap meet for about a dollar or two. An author would write a short story about that objects. The picture of the object and the clearly labeled fake story about that object would be placed on Ebay. They hypothesized that having a narrative would make the object more valuable. And boy, did it! The objects sold several times over what the original purchase price. The reading was a selection of some of those stories.
The Strand Bookstore is one of my favorite bookstores. In a time where so much is being rapidly digitalized (and yes, I do love the convenience), I still want and appreciate the physical heft of books and paper. To me the weight of the book, the musty smell of the pages, and the physical act of turning the pages are all a part of the process of reading. I read with my body. The Strand celebrates books with miles and miles of second hand and new books that are no longer the darlings of the Best Seller List. I can spend hours here idly browsing away. The reading took place in Strand’s third floor, where they had (and I didn’t know this until I went to the reading) a rare books floor. Here you can find all sorts of precious books, such as the first edition of The Little Prince and books with the author’s signature on the cover page.