Take A Look, It’s In A Book, A Guide To The Best Bookstores And Libraries In Harlem

Do you have those days when you’re at home and there’s nothing on TV, nothing worth your time on the internet or social media, or you’re not even in the mood to play video games?

There’s always the option to read a book. You can escape to another world and educate yourself about the past, present, and future.

Reading can also benefit your mental health and exercise your brain.

So, whenever you’re in Harlem, here are some bookstores and libraries you can check out.

Revolution Books

This bookstore is heavily focused on defying politics, so if you’re not happy with our government, not a big fan of our previous president, and thinking about starting a revolution.

This place will add fuel to your fire.

Tip: If you don’t have time to visit you can always shop.

Revolution Books, 437 Malcolm X Blvd/ Lenox Ave at 132nd Street, Harlem, NY, 212. 691.3345, https://www.revolutionbooksnyc.org/, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Sister’s Uptown Bookstore

Owned by a dynamic duo Janifer P. Wilson and Kori N. Wilson.

These two are dedicated in providing resources to the community by nurturing and exchanging information and ideas from books by African American authors. Their motto is “Knowledge is key.”

They are open 1 pm-5 pm EST on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Tip: The store is unfortunately closed to the public due to COVID-19.

Sister’s Uptown Bookstore, 1942 Amsterdam Avenue, Harlem, New York, 212.862.3680, http://www.sistersuptownbookstore.com/, Instagram.com/sistersuptown,

Harlem Library

The Harlem Branch has been around since 1826, back when Harlem was an isolated village. This library is one of the first to be incorporated into The New York Public Library branch system.

The three-story building has reading rooms for adults and young adults. A children’s room is located on the second floor along with a separate story-hour area for the children’s program.

Tip: Check out the 74-seat auditorium on the third floor where they offer free films and other programs.

Harlem Library, 9 West 124th Street, Harlem, NY, https://www.nypl.org/locations/harlem, 212.348.5620

Grandma’s Place

Grandma’s Place is not only a bookstore but a toy store as well.

Been around since 1999, this place is known for it’s educational books, toys, dolls, curriculum guides, and games; giving children something not only fun, but a piece of Harlem to learn from.

The owner of the store is Dawn Crosby Harris-Martine AKA Grandma Dawn. (Yes, she does have grandchildren, but in my opinion, she’s a grandma to the entire community.)

Tip: Don’t forget, Grandma Dawn has a YouTube channel that provides tips on reading and children, and a great bookstore/toy store.

Grandma’s Place, 84 West 120th Street, Harlem, NY, 212.360.6776, https://www.grandmasplaceinharlem.com/, Facebook

Book Culture

This independent company was founded as Labyrinth Books in 1997 by current owner Chris Doeblin and has been thriving since as Book Culture.

Though this company has multiple locations in New York, the original opened on 536 W. 112th Street in Harlem and is still there today. 

It has a variety of books and genres. The store even has its own “Children’s Reading Room” with toys, games, puzzles, and art supplies.

According to the website, it’s a fun place to meet people who have similar interests in books.

Tip: The location in Harlem is its original location.

Book Culture, 536 W. 112th Street in Harlem, New York, 212.865.1588, https://www.bookculture.com/

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Named after the Afro-Puerto Rican scholar Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.

This research library is a historical landmark and is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African Americans, African Diaspora, and African experiences.

Tip: Besides the research services, the center hosts a great selection of readings, discussions, art exhibitions, and theatrical events.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X BLVD (135th Street and Malcolm X Blvd), Harlem, NY, 212.491.2265, https://www.nypl.org/locations/schomburg

There you have it.

If you’re in Harlem and have the urge to get away from your TV, not look at your phone and read a book, I recommend paying a visit to one of these bookstores or libraries.

The more you read, it will eventually become a productive habit and your mind will benefit from it. So, which place has caught your attention?

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"We re-imagine, recreate, and redeem cultural omissions and misrepresentations of Blackness, for the culture. ...." This post is made in partnership with British Pathé.

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