The 5 Best Bars for Bookworms

photo via Creative Commons
photo via Creative Commons

The unique pleasure of reading a book and drinking a beer is one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. If you’re alone at a bar, waiting for someone, or just having a drink by yourself, the instinct is to scroll mindlessly through Instagram or Twitter or lose yourself in a particularly rousing game of Candy Crush. At first, reading alone in a bar feels like a weird setup, something that’s like the start of a particularly low-budget rom-com, but hear us out. Reading at home is awesome, but reading and drinking a delicious beer is even better. Below are some of our favorite places to put your phone away, drink a beer and read.

Molasses Bookstore

We’ve already sung the praises of this neighborhood bookseller cum bar, so it goes without saying that this is one of the top places to go when all you want to to is sit down, read a book and not be bothered by anyone, at all. The atmosphere is perfect, the kind of place that you envision when you close your eyes and think long and hard about what you want your dream apartment to look like. For a certain kind of bookish person with half a novel squirreled away in a desk somewhere and the drive to finish it, this is the perfect place. Grab a beer, pull up a seat at the bar and read whatever your heart desires.

 What to read: The newest release from Japanese master of moody, surreal fiction, Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a study in the sort of unsettled ennui that color Murakami’s earlier works.

Harefield Road

There are few greater pleasures than eating a meal, drinking a beer, and reading a book — blissfully, completely alone. Harefield Road is the kind of place where you can do just that, for however long you want. There’s a lovely backyard, some delicious beers(try the Widmer Summer Citra), and one of the best brunch specials in the land, where you can get a meal, a drink and a coffee for only $12.

 What to read: Were you confounded by the film adaptation of Cloud Atlas, but interested in the crazy, era-spanning worlds that author David Mitchell creates, pick up his latest, The Bone Clocks, and see if you agree with sharp-tongued and perennially salty New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani, who called it an “arresting but bloated novel.” 

Union Hall

The trick with this place is to come before nightfall. By day, this is one of the loveliest places to hang full of cozy chairs and fireplaces. By night, it becomes an overly-crowded bocce ball battleground with little to no outdoor space to take respite, so take shelter during a hot summer day, and get a beer and a book and settle in.

What to read:  If you haven’t read Lev Grossman’s highly-praised Magician trilogy, settle in with the first book, but be prepared with the second installation close at hand – you’ll want to read all three. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the final book, all your wildest dreams are about to come true.  Grab The Magician’s Land and cozy up.

The Exley

This neighborhood bar is never crowded, spacious yet cozy and is the kind of place best enjoyed alone. I’ve spent many an afternoon here reading a book and drinking a couple of beers, as a nice way of decompressing after a harrowing day at the office. If you wander in without a book of your own, grab something from the shelves that line the walls, and post up.

What to read: I plucked a copy of Too Big Too Fail from the shelves here, thinking to myself that I would never, ever read it, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. The 2008 financial crisis is made compelling in Andrew Ross Sorkin’s capable hands.

Soft Spot
This Williamsburg dive classic is the kind of place that everyone wants to have in their neighborhood. They have a cheap beer and a shot special, a reliable roundup of beer on tap, and the kind of perfect, quiet interior that lends itself nicely to contemplation and solitude. If you’d rather enjoy your beverage in the great outdoors, take to their backyard, which feels like a suburban patio, and kick back.

What to read: This spot calls for something that straddles the line between summer fluff and the big seriousness of fall. If you’ve read Chimamanda Adiche Ngozi’s opus, Americanah, try her much-acclaimed novel Half Of A Yellow Sun which is just as arresting and gorgeously written.


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