05 November 2010

Ode to the Strand

While visiting New York City last Christmas I spent much of my time at the Strand Bookstore. I had a tendency to do this every time I was in the city, come to think of it. The kind of visits where you enter at some point in the afternoon, only to exit to a pitch black sky and bright city lights. To say one could get lost inside the Strand is an exaggeration, but it is no stretch to say it's an easy place to lose track of time.

During this particular December visit, it occurred to me to fish around for a book that had been mentioned to me by several pastry chefs: Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. This book is out of print; a new copy from Amazon.com is currently priced at $250.00, a used copy priced around $125.00. When I (expectedly) didn't find the book, I inquired about it at the information desk. The employee told me she'd be happy to take my information and get in touch in the event the store received a copy.

I then proceeded to forget all about it. Stepping into daylight from the subway platform yesterday, I noticed the voicemail icon on my phone appear. "Hi, this is Sarah at the Strand Bookstore. I'm calling to let you know we've received a copy of The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming. It is a first edition copy with a hardcover and sleeve, and is in 'like new' condition. We will hold it for you until Saturday, November 6th at the Strand list price of $20.00. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at...." Nearly eleven months later, I am at last in possession of this wonderful book.

Now that I live in the city, I probably - no, definitely - spend way too much money at the Strand. It is one of my favorite places in New York, and the approaching winter months make me excited to spend even more time within its cozy confines, surrounding myself with "18 miles of books."