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Culture Crush: The Mysterious Bookshop

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Some stroll down the tree-lined streets of Tribeca with seemingly no care in the world, while some frantically push by, leaving clues and cues that they’re late for a very important meeting.  At a quick glance, it’s easy to distinguish the meeting-goers from the stroller-pushers, but as for the rest? It’s a mystery. However, there’s one local spot that blurs the lines between Tribeca’s most obvious and it’s most hidden gems, making it the prime candidate for our Culture Crush of the month.

The Mysterious Bookshop on Warren Street is the ultimate hole-in-the-wall bookstore for anyone looking for a juicy read this summer. The storefront is so nondescript that I walked straight past it as I was keenly looking for the sign.  If it weren’t for the woman behind me who asked her friend, “Oh my gosh!  That is so cute!  Is that a bookstore?”, I would’ve been left roaming Tribeca for who knows how long.

Upon walking in, I was instantly faced with intimidatingly tall walls housing thousands of mystery and murder books, ranging from the classic Sherlock Holmes series to the limited edition Lee Child novels.  Every turn of the head unlocked clues of why The Mysterious Bookshop has been in business since 1979.

The atmosphere of the shop was as mysterious as the stories sold.  In the back is a door with crime scene tape and a sign that reads “Nobody shoplifts from a store that knows 3,214 ways to murder someone”, which I found all too true. There was somewhat of an eerie silence (only to be broken by me) that really added to the authenticity of the shop.  Even more so, when I asked one of the shop clerks about any noteworthy clientele (i.e. NY icons), he made it clear that some things will always remain an enigma.

There is so much passion behind the people who work here, along with having shelves of knowledge regarding every book in the shop.  As a beginner mystery-reader, I requested a recommendation for a World War II book (as I’m oddly fascinated by WWII’s history and stories).  With his detective skills he quickly narrowed down options in his head, and led me through the shop to what he believed to be one of the best WWII mystery novels — Hitler’s Peace by Philip Kerr.  And although I’m only one chapter deep thus far, I have already been gripped by the story and I am confident that it will be stupefying.

But the most notable feature about this bookshop is how it feels like a representation of New York City itself.  Whether you’re a tourist, the person who’s never left ‘the island’, or the person who’s gentrifying your neighborhood, you can recognize the curious and mysterious atmosphere of New York on every block. “Who’s been here? What’s happened here? What WILL happen here?” always runs through my mind as I walk down these historic streets.  Overall, The Mysterious Bookshop embodies the classic New York spirit: no matter how long you’ve lived here, the city still holds many mysteries.

Visit The Mysterious Bookshop at 58 Warren St, New York, NY 10007.