Neighborhood Guides

Must-See West Village

by Christina Parrella, 12/09/2015

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  • Literary History 
    Besides its role in gay history, the West Village is largely defined by its literary legacy. Beat writer Jack Kerouac (along with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson and Doors singer Jim Morrison) frequented watering holes like Kettle of Fish, Minetta Tavern and the White Horse Tavern, where he went so much that someone purportedly scribbled "Kerouac, go home!" on the bathroom wall. Another frequent patron, poet Dylan Thomas, downed (according to his count) 18 shots of whiskey at the tavern just a few days before slipping into a coma at the Chelsea Hotel and going gently into his good night.


    The area's literary character endures in its many bookstores. The primary focus of Left Bank Books is first editions, plus rare or collectible copies of fiction, classics and poetry. Those can cost a pretty penny, but there are plenty of affordable finds among the used books; the space also hosts regular Sunday night poetry readings.


    The cozy Three Lives & Company features fiction, poetry and nonfiction from emerging writers alongside a carefully sorted selection of art monographs, travel tomes and cookbooks. Bookbook Bookstore and Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books maintain an inventory of biographies and books on poetry, travel, art and politics at reasonable prices. Newer establishments include the travel-oriented Little Bookroom and Bookmarc, of the Marc Jacobs empire. The latter specializes in coffee table books but also carries DVDs, art objects and Marc Jacobs accessories and hosts New York City–based authors, photographers and celebrities for readings and signings. Check the schedule here

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