For voracious readers in the city, few places compare to Rizzoli Bookstore (pictured above), a New York institution since 1964. From 1985 to 2014, the bookstore was located on 57th Street in a six-story townhouse featuring cast iron chandeliers, ornate vaulted ceilings, and a Diocletian window. Now on Broadway just north of Madison Square Park, Rizzoli’s stunning interior is once again nothing short of a bookworm’s wonderland, with 18-foot ceilings, a skylight, and 5,000-square-feet of library-like space to explore. Rizzoli’s impressive collection specializes in illustrated books about architecture, interior design, fashion, photography, fine and applied arts, literature, and foreign languages. In addition to books, you can find note cards, stationery, CDs, DVDs, and more.
In celebration of National Book Lovers Day, we asked members of the Citi Habitats community to weigh in on the books that have had a lasting effect on their lives. Consider these hard-to-put-down reads the next time you’re looking for a great book to dive into.
In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki.
“This is a beautiful book about Japanese culture and aesthetics. It’s about the importance of dimly lit spaces in art, imagination, and living areas. In the U.S., there’s a preference for lots of sunlight, gleaming white walls, and stainless steel appliances. When this book was written, the general Japanese aesthetic was darker rooms with lacquered objects that glimmer in the shadows. It makes you re-think the impact that interiors, light, and shadows have on people.”
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
“This book is about how to create success in your life—it’s a book you study. It helped me develop my life’s mission in terms of defining and articulating my life’s purpose, creating a vision for my success, and setting goals I’m emotionally connected to. It is the seminal work on success.”
“I love reading about history, and this book transports me to the 1800s where I get to feel like the characters as I’m reading the book.”
Lust for Life by Irving Stone
“It’s the story of Vincent van Gogh’s life. My father was an artist and he gave me his copy of the book many years ago. My dad wasn’t an avid reader of books. The New York Times was more his thing. The fact that he wanted to share it with me makes it even more meaningful. The novel not only tells the story of van Gogh’s artistic development, but also captures his struggles with mental illness. Many of the impressionist and post-impressionist painters of his time play leading roles in his life and the book, and the growth of the movement is well chronicled. His beautiful relationship with his brother is woven throughout.
It’s a book I cherish and can go back and read every 5-10 years. I visited Auvers where Vincent ended his life, and also the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam after my dad was too sick to travel. It’s one of my biggest regrets that I wasn’t able to go with him. The book was also made into a movie starring Kirk Douglas in the 1950s. It’s not as good as the book but worth a couple of hours on a rainy day.”
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
“It is the simple start of the book: ‘In a hole in the ground there lives a hobbit.’ This line draws you into a fantasy that awakens all your inner child fairytale adventurous yearnings. My other favorite book of late is Save the Deli by David Sax, which outlines the decline of the Jewish deli in America in the 20th century. Visiting the classic delis in Southern Brooklyn like the Mill Basin Deli, and Ben’s Best in Forest Hills, or Katz’s on the Lower East Side, and having a frankfurter and matzoh ball soup evokes culinary memories and transports you to a time when these delis were an integral piece of the fabric of NYC life.”
Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
“This is a book that I read every Christmas, just like some people watch the same movie every year. This one has it all for me: Elvis, the South, and New York City—all things that are part of my life. It is also a mystery. If you fall in love with the characters there are other books that feature them as well, but this is a stand-alone—you don’t need to read the whole series. Also, the author Mary Kay Andrews is a Florida gal like me, I grew up one city over from her. So lots of chords struck with me!”