From New York to…London

In terms of culture, New York has it made. From the most niche art museums to the street music to the indie films in the Village, NYC seems to have it all when it comes to the creative side of things. This includes books. But New York isn’t the only place to rediscover that nerdy eleven-year-old who read books under their covers with a flashlight and turn them into a refined consumer of classics and fictions. London has a literary history and flare to rival New York’s.

Here are a few ways you can surround yourself with books and re-find that literary geek inside of you to feel the joy that books can bring.

Taken by Jainita Patel.

Taken by Jainita Patel.

Book Stores.

This might seem like an obvious one, but bookstores just have that new (or old) book smell that’s hard to resist. One of the best indie bookstores in New York is in the Village on 4th Ave called Alabaster Books. This tiny bookstore is sadly one of the last indie bookstore left in the Village and with a cozy feeling and books literally up to the ceiling, it’s worth the trek. Another in downtown on Warren St. called The Mysterious Book Shop and only sells mystery books if that’s your cup of tea. Speaking of tea, London has a few amazing indie bookstores as well. Charing Cross Road by Leicester Square is littered with indie bookstores, but if you’re looking for something really unique, Word on the Water – The London Book Barge is an amazing and quirky book shopping feel. You’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale on this little boat. You can find a more extensive list of bookstores here.


Ah the library. It’s like you can almost feel your childhood rushing back to you. Luckily, there are still a few libraries in NYC that can bring that feeling back to you, including, of course, the main branch of the New York Public Library with its beautiful entrance and maze of room. While you’re there, why not sign up for a library card? It’s literally free and might peak your interest to start reading again. There’s also the Morgan Library and Museum, which, is just supremely impressive since it used to be J.P Morgan’s private library and study before he willed it to the city. Now there isn’t a library in Manhattan that can stand up to this Beauty-and-the-Beastesque museum. In London, the Senate House Library may look like the Ministry of Truth from Orwell’s 1984, but the inside is massive and even cozy at times. This is a great place for students to get work done (as long as you sign up for a card from). The London Library is also stunning with miles and miles of stacks that you can get lost in for days.

The Morgan Library and Museum.

The Morgan Library and Museum.

Historic Literary Spots.

There are few literary hot spots in NYC that aren’t bars or pubs that famous writers stayed at, but one of my favorites is the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in the Bronx. The famous poet and writer spent the last few years of his life here where he wrote classics like “Annabell Lee,” “The Bells,” and yes, even the famous meme “The Cask of Amontillado.” Also in the Bronx, you’ll find the grave of Herman Melville in Woodlawn. Moving further in time to the literature of the 20th century, if you were just as fascinated by all the places Salinger mentioned in Catcher in the Rye, you can actually visit all of them in this self-guided tour that will take you from Ernie’s to Phoebe’s school. In London, the price you pay to get into Westminster Abbey is worth it when you see the Poet’s Corner where some of the greatest are buried, including Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Spenser, and Tennyson not to mention memorials to several others such as Marlowe, the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, and Lewis Carroll. If you don’t feel like fighting the crowds at Westminster, you can always go to Mecklenburgh Square and see the Charles’ Dickens Museum that even contains his personal writing desk. If you’re feeling a bit more Shakespearian, the Globe theatre is right across the river and you can take a tour there and see the famous recreated theater. If it’s summertime, you can go see a play there for just £5 as long as you don’t mind being a groundling.


The writing desk of Charles Dickens. Taken by Jainita Patel

The writing desk of Charles Dickens.
Taken by Jainita Patel

Inside the Globe Theatre. Taken by Jainita Patel.

Inside the Globe Theatre.
Taken by Jainita Patel.

Literary Cafes and Pubs.

I’ve written about cafes and bars in NYC before, but New York takes the literary alcohol scene to another level. Of these, the White Horse Tavern in the West Village might be the most famous since the days when Jack Kerouac and Hunter Thompson drank here. Or, why not go back to the time of Gatsby at the Rose Club in the Plaza Hotel on 5th Ave, a place that fully embraces its fictional history with the Fitzgerald’s. The Thirsty Scholar is an Irish-writer themed pub that’s bound to warm your literary heart. In London, no other pub comes close to fame for its literary patronage than Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese which once hosted Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, W.B. Yeats, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and more. If you’re willing to make the trek, The Flask near Highgate can also stir up inspiration since it once hosted T.S. Elliot, Keats, Shelley, and Lord Byron. On the south side of the river, the George Inn was once frequented by Charles Dickens and Shakespeare himself.

The Thirsty Scholar.

The Thirsty Scholar.

So why not go explore your literary side in either of these magnificent cities. If you like New York or London for its literary scene, hopefully you’ll get to visit the other some day.




By Jainita Patel

Jainita is a Campus Clipper publishing intern who is double majoring in English and Environmental Studies at NYU. Though writing fiction and painting are her two main passions, she also has a love of travel and adventure that has taken her across the globe.  Jainita writes under the pseudonym Jordan C. Rider. If you like her posts, you can find more of her work here or follow her on Twitter. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015. 


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