Books Are Magic

Wall art outside of store Bookstore facade Bookstore entrance Neon sign in bookstore Upcoming events list in bookstore Reading near the bookstore window Bookshelf in bookstore Children's reading nook in the bookstore Display in bookstore Bag of books outside the bookstore Peering in the bookstore window

A neighborhood bookstore is so much more than simply a place to purchase books, don’t you think? As a local, a bookstore’s a place to be home without being home, a second living room, a place to gather, relax, mingle and watch your children dive headfirst into the magical worlds only books reveal. As a traveler, they’re a place to get an excellent glimpse into a neighborhood and people who live there, perhaps to relax and rest a bit, and to leave feeling inspired. Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood mourned the closing of the beloved independent bookstore BookCourt in late 2016 after 35 years in business. It didn’t take long, however, for local novelist Emma Straub and her husband, Michael Fusco-Straub, to open another independent bookstore in the neighborhood. As she wrote in a blog post last December, to announce the coming of the new store, “A neighborhood without an independent bookstore is a body without a heart. And so we’re building a new heart.”

That store, Books Are Magic, became an instant magnet for the community when it opened on May 1st of this year. On long walks through the neighborhood I rejoiced in having a new place to stop for a bit, nursing my new baby on the enormous leather couch near the children’s section (once right next to another mama nursing her babe while reading to her older child!). I’ve loved bringing my daughter, who enjoys browsing the shelves and pointing out books we already have at home while always finding a few new ones she can’t leave the store without. The store is a huge draw for authors, including local Brooklyn writers, with an events calendar that’s made it a literary hotspot and includes exciting launch parties, talks, and readings with some of the most influential and popular writers across a host of genres.

Above all, though, it’s a welcoming place. We stopped in again last weekend, ducking out of rain that surprised us while out for a walk. My daughter colonized the little reading cubby in the children’s area until another little girl asked for a turn, and we left with six new books that stretched our bedtime reading ritual just a little longer than normal that evening. The store’s name couldn’t be more apt, as books really ARE magic, and I’m so glad we have an extra dose of that “bookish fairydust,” as Emma Straub called it, near us here in Brooklyn.



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