Have you ever been to visit a new friend, a distant relative, or even a co-workers home and immediately felt at home yourself? You know, the type of warm home with big comfy couches, friendly words, loving photos scattering the walls, maybe an old cat rubbing against your leg, and the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen? Some places are just more inviting and welcoming than others, and when I find a place I feel comfortable, it’s a place I am sure I will be returning.
Recently, Zoey was searching for a used bookstore in our neighborhood and came across this video. Now, watch the video…seriously. It’s only 3 minutes and it is WORTH it. Promise.
Interested? I thought so.
Zoey looked up the owner of this secret bookstore, AKA Brazenhead Books. Michael is the owner and he invited us over at basically anytime we desired. Apparently, he hosts little get-togethers, or salons, often that usually go into the wee hour of the morning. We decided to go visit his book store/residential apartment on a Saturday night at 10pm.
We buzzed his apartment/store and waited anxiously to be buzzed in and walk up a few flights of stairs to Brazenhead Books. The door looks just like the door of any other small residential home on the Upper East Side, much like my own, but when the door opened we were immediately transported to a crazy magical dusty crowded world of used and collectible books.
Michael greeted us with a hearty handshake, a warm smile, and an offer to make ourselves whatever drink we’d prefer. He had an assortment of liquors and wine on the edge of crowded table with a few empty glasses nearby. He smoked a pipe and was still in the middle of a casual conversation with two girls and older man who were obvious regulars. They sat around chatting about friends, birthdays, their families, and the lactose-free ice cream they were eating.
Michael invited us to look around as he poured himself a glass. Zoey, Husband, and myself, began roaming the stacks and piles of literally floor to ceiling books. Every square inch of this apartment is used to store books. In case you did NOT watch the video (shame on you!), I’ll summarize the history:
Michael grew up working in used books stores, loved books, and loved selling them. As an adult he had his own used bookstore, but it eventually became virtually impossible for this sort of store to survive in NYC. Michael’s book collection moved to his home, and continued to multiply. A few years ago, he got a new place and turned his old place into a secret bookstore for other book lovers to discover and enjoy. He does not care if you come to look, shop, or just visit over a cup of whiskey. His passion is keeping used bookstores and this type of environment alive in the city. You can find him via phonebook or Facebook.
I could have spent hours and hours searching through the endless supply of literature, which is kind of the point. In the middle of my hunting Michael began talking to us about himself and his store. I tried asking him about where he acquired his books, but learned more about his dogs (one is a rescued greyhound!). He was so honest and approachable. I felt like we’d been friends for years. I wish that I had that sort of charming personality that put strangers at ease and allowed them to see that I care about each one of them and their stories. Instantly, I understood why the other 3 guests would come back again and again to hangout with Michael.
Michael has managed to put his soul and personality into his business. He is a beacon to others who are full of passion and determined to live their dream. I am happy to have met him and thankful he welcomed us into his homey store. I may be slightly obsessed with my Nook these days, but I still love the way a new, or used, book feels in my hands. I will definitely be making more trips to Brazenhead Books.