Yahdon Israel ushered #LiterarySwag into Instagram vernacular when he founded a niche book club in Boerum Hill by the same name.
When you step foot in Brooklyn’s own The Center for Fiction, you’ll be ready to book your membership. Bookstr was lucky enough to snag an afternoon tour of the new space, but you’re going to want to stay a lot longer than that.
Recently relocated to 15 Lafayette Avenue, The Center for Fiction is more than just a bookstore—if anything can be ‘just’ a bookstore. It’s an impressive feat to fit thousands of worlds within the space of a single room… even if that room is spacious, modern, and beautifully lit. The Center for Fiction is an exceptionally curated bookstore, complete with thoughtful staff recommendations and indie releases. While browsing the high shelves (complete with rolling ladders like something out of a fairytale), I spotted one of my own niche favorites in the stacks: Kirk Lynn’s Rules for Werewolves, a dark and inventive 2015 release from Melville House—more notably, one I’ve never seen in another brick-and-mortar store.
Adjacent to the bookstore is the Center’s café, a charming spot whose walls are lined with 19th century novels. If you’ve ever fantasized about being peers with the historic greats (so, if you’re a writer) this is a dream that won’t require all that much fantasy. Sip an espresso, read a first-edition manuscript, and get lost in this novel idea.
Each table in the café is artfully topped with literary quotations.
Members have access to an even more impressive selection of features: a second-floor library with a 70,000 book collection. The basement, appropriately, is the 16,000 book crime & mystery library. Trust us—this is the only time you’ll want to be below ground with so many serial killers. (You could say it’s a collection to die for.)
The spacious upstairs features a sun-drenched reading room, complete with an adjacent outdoor patio. Plans are in development for an outdoor bar, so you may as well start planning to drink there. The reading room is a laptop free zone, which will enable you to concentrate fully on whichever book you’ve chosen and leave the world behind. A unique combination of the modern and refined, you’ll feel comfortable and inspired by this one-of-a-kind space.
The writers’ room offers a secluded yet inspiring space for those in all stages of their craft, be it an excited beginning or a far more frantic conclusion. Windows look out onto a vibrant neighborhood; inside, the atmosphere is peaceful and modern. Desks are spacious and outfitted with dividers (so, no direct eye contact with the person sitting across from you). With an adjacent kitchen, you’ll have everything you need to write all day… if you’ve got the concentration.
But The Center for Fiction has more than an updated space; it also has a vibrant, new community. Literature lovers can participate in a series of reading groups with varied prices for members and nonmembers—explore writers like James Baldwin, Aldous Huxley, and Henry James with high-level reading groups and discussions. Writing workshops are also available across a wide variety of disciplines, from genre-based courses on speculative fiction or crime writing to craft-based courses on dialogue and structure.
Individual membership is $150, dual membership is $275, and family membership is $325 annually. Although membership doesn’t cover the fees for writing and reading groups, it does count towards a 10% discount on all courses and special events. Of course, membership does include full borrowing privileges from both of The Center’s libraries, access to the reading room, and admission to the private bar.
All Images Via The Center for Fiction.