About usPartner with usSign up to our Newsletter

Bonnie Slotnick

Bonnie Slotnick 1 Bookstores West Village

With a bowl sitting on the floor labeled “Dog,” a small children’s table set with books slightly ajar, and a wooden drying rack covered in aprons, walking into Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks is like entering a well-kept early twentieth century home. Out back is a casual collection of lawn chairs surrounded by greenery, the perfect place to sit and chat or get lost in a good book. We were guests first and customers second, peering at the shelves of authentic cookbooks adorned with spatulas, match boxes, teddy bears, rolling pins, a type-writer, an antique Hope Pride oven, and other trinkets under the domain of kitchen and library.

More than a store of antiquarian cookbooks, Bonnie Slotnick offers an experience. The space is active, inviting you to delicately handle the old kitchenware, fumble through the books, and fraternize with Bonnie. The more we spent time with Bonnie, the more we realized how interdependent Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks and Bonnie Slotnick are, each filling the other, and those around them, with life and breath.

Bonnie started collecting books, which she strongly distinguishes from the stocking she does for her store, when she attended Parsons School for Design. After graduating, she began her career in publishing. (She is still a freelance editor to this day, though her customers may not realize it). In 1984, she took on the side job of looking for books to help stock Kitchen Arts and Letters, where scouting out books became as much a mission as a hobby.

When Bonnie picks up a used cookbook, she first looks for the aura. She fumbles through the pages, catches the familiar old book smell, and senses the synergy of the words, illustrations, and typefaces: the book as a complete object. She told me that she often feels like she is saying, “Oh there you are old friend, you nice old friend!” She picked up The American Woman’s Cookbook, first published in 1938, which featured a hologram-like cover, thumb index, and photographs sourced from marketing campaigns. “This is a wartime edition, published in 1942,” she explained, “…things like sugar, fat, and white flour had to be rationed.” She went on to show me some of the cooking utensils in her shop – a rotary egg beater, a tomato slicer, and some tools to make butter, amongst others. The Manhattan Sideways team agreed that they were reminiscent of pieces we had in our own homes growing up, a nuanced nostalgia that made our first visit to Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks both comfortable and familiar. Her passion in showing us the cookware and books not only fueled our own interest, but also engaged others wandering around shop. They could not help but listen to what Bonnie had to say, her eyes smiling the whole way through.

Aside from books, what Bonnie wanted to talk about most was her supporting community. Though she at first feared the East Side, viewing it as an entirely different environment than the West, she now is familiar enough with the neighborhood that she could not stop listing other small businesses that she admires nearby, wishing to promote each one of them. Her website even has a section called The Neighborhood, where she promotes other bookstores that she hopes will be as successful as hers has been. These are not her competitors, but her friends.

Nothing is more revealing of Bonnie’s character than her immense appreciation for her current landlords. Bonnie has lived on West 10th street since the mid 1970s, and when she lost her lease on her old West Village bookstore location in 2014 after being in business for seventeen years, she was devastated. Luckily, in 2015, Margo and Garth Johnson stepped in, offering her a lease on a commercial space in their house. Book lovers themselves, the two have adopted Bonnie into their community and saved her dream of “keeping bookstores and a love of reading alive.” They also adopted a dog, which Bonnie admits was as much for her as it was for them.

Bonnie’s new lease offers ten years of permanence, rather than the three of her previous one. The new space is also three times the size of the old. With more room, supportive landlords, and a sense of stability, Bonnie is able to diversify the use of her space. She is now open to hosting literary and culinary gatherings, such as book clubs for food literature. She also hopes to expand her stock of books when she accumulates enough funds. The supply is certainly there: potential sellers often send her pictures of books they would like her to buy.

Bonnie goes to work six days a week. She says, “Each day I create something. My store is my art.”

Sign up to Sidestreet Updates
Bonnie Slotnick 3 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 4 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 5 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 6 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 7 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 8 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 9 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 10 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 11 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 12 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 1 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 2 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 13 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 14 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 15 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 16 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 17 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 18 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 19 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 20 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 21 Bookstores West Village
Bonnie Slotnick 22 Bookstores West Village

More Bookstores nearby

Lost Gem
Pageant Print Shop 1 Bookstores Family Owned undefined

Pageant Print Shop

Pageant Print Shop’s entirely glass storefront bordered by light blue is instantly eye-catching and proudly displays the treasure within. Inside its bright, buttercream interior, an immense assortment of old prints and maps line every wall and fill neatly-labeled display racks. This sanctuary of beautiful historical pieces was created by Sidney Solomon and Henry Chafetz in 1946. It was originally one of the many second-hand book stores on Fourth Avenue, an area that was then known as “Book Row. ” Now under the leadership of Sidney’s daughters, Shirley and Rebecca, Pageant Print Shop primarily sells old prints and is thriving at its current 4th Street location. Having worked with historic pieces her whole life, Shirley knows how to get the best prints. She has amassed her impressive collection from antique book auctions as well as other various sources that she has built up over the years. Roger, who has been working at Pageant Print Shop for over a decade, told Manhattan Sideways that “what we are looking for are old books with the bindings broken that are really not in very good shape on the outside, but still have good quality prints, maps, or illustrations on the inside. ” Although they search for old books based on the contents within, the shop also sells the old bindings for creatives looking to make decoupage and other fun art projects. Pageant Print Shop is definitely a fixture in the East Village, and in the words of Roger, is “one of those neighborhood jams. ” They enjoy “a loyal group of people that have been coming here for eons, " tourists looking for something authentically New York City, and neighborhood people walking by. He told us that newcomers are often “surprised that they are able to buy a piece of history, ” and return for more of their authentic, beautiful, and historic prints. Pageant Print Shop is unique in its extensive, high quality, and affordable selection. Roger affirmed that “It’s going to be hard for you to find someone who has this kind of a collection at these kinds of prices — it’s just true. ”

Lost Gem
Village Works Book Store Bookstores undefined

Village Works Book Shop

In a city always on the cusp of change, certain havens embody the essence of the classic, idiosyncratic New York. Village Works Book Store on St Marks Place is one such retreat. Relocating earlier this year from its E 3rd Street location, the bookstore has become an organic part of its new setting — with a historic edifice from 1889 that was formerly the German American Shooting Society Clubhouse. Joseph Sheridan, the shop's proprietor, is a longstanding patron of New York City’s artistic and cultural scene, with a resume that includes everything from the Café Con Leche dance party to the Urban Works gallery. Village Works is the ultimate expression of his commitment to the city's culture, featuring an eclectic range of 5, 000 titles that largely focus on New York’s art, history and literature. The pandemic-induced exodus of tourists, students and wealthy residents revealed an opportunity to Sheridan. It was the ideal climate to unveil a bookstore aimed at documenting and celebrating this cultural resurgence. Starting with 2, 000 books from his personal collection, Village Works has since expanded to include self-published works and donated titles. Far from being just a bookstore, Village Works also serves as a gallery, and it regularly hosts events, book signings and fashion and retail collaborations, challenging the widely held belief that contemporary audiences are disinterested in New York's rich cultural history. Village Works is more than a retail space; it's a dynamic cultural hub. The scope of the bookstore has broadened from its initial emphasis on Village artists to include the wider New York City creative community. This commitment is evidenced by the store’s growing inventory, a series of art exhibitions complete with catalogs — and even foraying into publishing.

More places on 2nd Street

Lost Gem
Kenkeleba House 1 Art and Photography Galleries undefined

Kenkeleba House

Had we not been personally escorted through the unmarked double doors that lead to Kenkeleba Gallery, Manhattan Sideways might not ever have known it was here. The only sign on the building reads Henington Hall, etched into the stone facade along with the year it was built, 1908. According to Joe Overstreet, in the 70’s the building was condemned until he and his wife, Corinne Jennings, were able to strike a deal with the city in 1978. Although 2nd Street was teeming with drug activity back then, the arrangement proved worthwhile for Overstreet, as it gave him, his wife, three children and the emerging Kenkeleba House a home in an area that eventually cleaned up its act and became one of the most important neighborhoods for the arts in New York City. Since its founding, Kenkeleba House has flown under the radar as a not-for-profit gallery space and artist workspace. Joe and Corinne were only interested in promoting new ideas, emerging artists, experimental work, and solo shows for those deserving of the recognition. They preferred to showcase artists whose works were not typically featured in commercial galleries, focusing primarily on African American art. Joe and Corinne’s vision of Kenkeleba House - as a space for artists to grow, to showcase African American that oftentimes would have been lost, and teaching African American history through gallery shows - was only possible due to their extensive background in art as well as their immense individual efforts. Corinne was born into a family of artists in an isolated part of Rhode Island, and until she was about twelve or thirteen, she thought “that’s what everyone did- I thought people made things. ” Her father, a talented printmaker who studied under Hale Woodruff, is widely known for his black and white wood engravings and costume jewelry. The Wilmer Jennings Gallery - across the street on 2nd Street - is named for him. Jennings’ mother was a Yale graduate and painter. Corinne came to New York in the 1960’s, originally wanting to be a scenic designer. Even though she was qualified, she was turned away by the head of the scenic designer’s union with the explanation that they did not want any women or black people. She instead started to do art projects, and eventually decided to “tackle some of issues that prevented African American artists from fully developing. ”Corinne and Joe spent a lot of time speaking with artists from different parts of West Africa and the Caribbean, eventually coming upon the realization that “they needed to find a different way for people to develop, for people to have space to work, [and] to find alternative educational routes for people. ” In 1978, Joe and Corinne purchased an abandoned building on second street, fixed it up, and opened up their first art exhibition in 1980. From then on, they began amassing their extensive and remarkable collection. The exhibits on display in this gallery recognize the rarely explored contributions that people of African descent have made to the art world. It is here, hanging on the walls and filed away in the deepest recesses of their private collection, we were showed a portrait of Dr. John DeGrasse painted by a largely forgotten African-American artist by the name of Edward Mitchell Banister (1828-1901). Banister won a national award for his most famous painting, “Under the Oaks. ” The magnificent framed picture of Dr. DeGrasse is easily worth more money than we could count, but the history lesson we received from Joe was priceless. Dr. DeGrasse was a native New Yorker and also one of the first African-Americans to receive a medical degree. He gained acceptance to the Boston Medical Society in 1854, making him the first African-American to belong to a medical association in that state. And to boot, he was also the first African-American medical officer in the U. S. Army serving as Assistant Surgeon in the Civil War. In addition, Manhattan Sideways viewed works dating back to 1773, by the late Hale Woodruff, an African-American abstract painter who lived in New York City from 1943 until his death in 1980. In addition to being an artist who aspired to express his heritage, Woodruff was also an art educator and member of the faculty at New York University. “We are African-American, so that is what we do, ” said Corinne, “but we are also interested in artists from the Lower East Side. ” Corinne’s personal art collection reflects much of her parent’s amazing work, as well as that of other African-American artists, both well-known and yet undiscovered. Kenkeleba Gallery aims to teach the younger generations about African-American history. “Every nationality walks by here on a daily basis, but they have no idea who we are as a people. ” Joe and Corinne were well aware of the contribution African-Americans have made to the arts that began right here in this community. Their private collection is made up of over 30, 000 paintings, artifacts, art books and jazz records that tell the rich history of African-Americans in this country.