My favorite place in New Orleans.
I'm not a drinker. I'm not a partier. I find long nights on the town [baby] to be a complete waste of time unless they are spent having good conversations with one or two good friends in a quiet environment; preferably a gourmet restaurant or an all-night coffee joint with a good dark roast. I'm not sure if I number among the ranks of the strict introverts, but all signs seem to say so. With that stated, it might come as a surprise for you to hear that New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the United States. I have multiple reasons for liking it as much as I do. Primary among them is the elemental geography of the town. New Orleans' layout is as close to a European city as any place in the US; the individual neighborhoods have their own restaurants, stores and entertainment venues, yet they remain small enough to get around on foot. As Ray Oldenburg stated so brilliantly in his sociological critique The Great Good Place, strong communities need easily accessible places where residents can come together on a regular basis.
Aside from their being accessible, the shops and restaurants in New Orleans are excellent. I have no use for most of the nonsense that goes on in the French Quarter, but even in that environment, a few gems exist. Among these places is The Librairie Book Shop; a true diamond in the rough, just off Jackson Square.
The Librairie blew my mind when I discovered it. Used book shops are often prone to having dodgy selections of books which might be better off recycled and made into new books, but The Librairie's stock is excellent. The last time I was there, they had most of the Library of America collection of novels, priced at a jaw-dropping $9 per book.
The overall atmosphere of the shop feel completely foreign to the insanity which goes on elsewhere in the French Quarter. It's quiet and secluded. The old lady behind the counter only completes the feeling of near-cinematic whimsy. Check it out the next time you're in New Orleans. Please, just don't go to The Libraire after a round of Hand Grenades; I don't want to regret sharing this place.
Ray Oldenburg - Project for Public Places
The Librairie Book Shop - Google Maps
Library of America - Official Site
Hand Grenade (cocktail) - Wikipedia