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Rackage: Idlewild Brings Travel to Union Square

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Rackage is a look inside recently-opened stores around town. Today, we head to Union Square to check out travel bookstore Idlewild.

Guidebooks are boring; fiction's impractical. What's a traveler to do? The new bookstore Idlewild, recently opened on the second floor of a storefront just north of Union Square, solves the dilemma with shelf upon shelf of travel guides and world literature, organized by destination. In the enormous New York City section, for example, books offering advice to tourists with small children and bargain-hunting fashion hounds sit alongside Edith Wharton's House of Mirth and the just-released Lower East Side crime novel Lush Life.

Idlewild was founded by a former UN press officer who clearly takes pride in being worldly; the store carries a ton of European, Middle Eastern and Latin American fiction and specializes in rare English translations. It's decorated in a sort of "map chic" style, with a globe on nearly every flat surface not covered with a book. A chandelier hung with paper scraps, each handwritten with a poem or saying in another language, dominates the back room. Even if you're not going anywhere this summer—actually, especially if you're not going anywhere this summer—the setting invites fantasies of flight.

Idlewild Books

12 W 19th Street, New York, NY 10011 212-414-8888 Visit Website