Lifestyle

Calling All Introverts: Here’s Where to Unplug and Go Off the Grid in NYC

Cancel those plans for some solitary socializing.

Photo courtesy of HigherDOSE
Photo courtesy of HigherDOSE
Photo courtesy of HigherDOSE

If there was ever a viral TikTok some of us introverts could make into our personality trait, it would be that one about going out in public and then wondering why the hell the public is also there.

Contrary to popular belief, introversion isn’t about being shy or quiet-it’s about introspection. That means we’re actually just as loud, opinionated, and obnoxious as people who have entire speakerphone conversations on elevators. The main difference is, we’re rarely caught in the act because we love minding our own business and are choosy about who we divulge our true selves to.

So when it comes to living in New York City, we’re absolutely obsessed with its general magic, iconic foods, and even a main character moment in Times Square every blue moon. But what irks us the most is the inability to enjoy it without throngs of strangers around.

The next time you’re itching to escape your apartment for some solitary socializing, we’ve got you. Here’s an introvert’s guide to unplugging in NYC.

Photo credit: Tae Yoon
Photo credit: Tae Yoon
Photo credit: Tae Yoon

Peaceful Public Spaces in NYC

Behind the FDR Bust at FDR Four Freedoms State Park
Roosevelt Island, Free
Although Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park officially debuted in 2012, it remains a hidden gem to many New Yorkers. Located near the infamous Smallpox Hospital on a patch of land at the southern end of Roosevelt Island that was once a landfill, the beautiful triangle-shaped park lined with trees features a large bust of FDR at its endpoint. But introverts should make a beeline to the square directly behind our former president’s giant head. Serene with a stunning panorama, take in one-of-a-kind views while nestled on the East River between Queens and Manhattan. The concrete benches also make for a great reading nook.

Photo courtesy of HigherDOSE
Photo courtesy of HigherDOSE
Photo courtesy of HigherDOSE

Health & Wellness in NYC

Individual Saunas at HigherDOSE
SoHo, $45 for Quick Dose and $65 for Full Dose
Sweating it out at the sauna is an age-old joy shared across cultures throughout the world, but the traditional NYC experience is often relegated to gym locker rooms. Avoid the post-workout rush for HigherDOSE and their spa of private Infrared Saunas. Located on the third floor of the 11 Howard Hotel in SoHo, their perspiration sessions utilize state-of-the-art infrared technology that’s reported to promote improved circulation and decreased inflammation. Slots are available for 30 or 60 minutes and take place in your very own hotel room with a shower. For any super fans, the wooden units are also available for purchase.

Deprivation Tanks at Vessel Floats
Greenpoint, $85 a session
These aren’t the deprivation tanks of the 1950s. As one of the East Coast’s biggest float studios, Vessel Floats offers a modern-day experience within a chic Greenpoint homebase. The aim of each 1-hour session is to block out all stimulation and promote mindfulness while weightless. The tanks are spacious with 7.5-foot ceilings and intended to completely block out all noise and light. But if you’re looking to doggy paddle before you butterfly, feel free to flick on the gorgeous light system that resembles stargazing or play some bops through the speakers. Napping is also encouraged.

Meditation at Buddhist Temples
Various locations, Free but donations welcomed
There’s nothing zen about what some meditation spots charge nowadays for their crowded sessions. A different option is to pop into one of the many Buddhist temples around the city instead for an easy mental check-in. Usually open throughout the day, simply go in at your convenience, do your thing, and drop in some cash in the donation box if you like. Standouts include Wat Buddhathai Thavornvanaram in Elmhurst, Queens; Chogyesa in the Upper West Side, and Mahayana with two Chinatown locations on Mott Street and Canal & Bowery.

Photo Courtesy of Sharks Pool
Photo Courtesy of Sharks Pool
Photo Courtesy of Sharks Pool

Games & Recreation in NYC

Sharks Pool
Various locations, starts at $36 per hour
Pool halls don’t usually top our list of social plans, but a game of private pool where we can BYOB and play our own music is a game changer. With locations in Astoria, Rockefeller Center, Two Bridges, and Williamsburg, at Sharks Pool, knock back a few rounds within cool rooms featuring amenities options like lounge areas, flat screen TVs, mini fridges, and your own bathroom. Bookings and door access are all via app. Let off some steam alone, impress the cutie you just met at the bar with a 2:30 am hangout spot, or celebrate special occasions for parties of 40 if needed.

Photo courtesy of Kaiten Zushi Nomad
Photo courtesy of Kaiten Zushi Nomad
Photo courtesy of Kaiten Zushi Nomad

Dining in NYC

Conveyor Belt Sushi at Kaiten Zushi Nomad
Nomad, Dishes start at $4.50
When you’re looking for a solo meal to the extreme, Kaiten Zushi Nomad keeps human interaction to a bare minimum. The new restaurant features a massive 5,000-square-foot space and over 100 sushi varieties along with rice bowls, desserts, and drinks delivered via robots. All seating is located along the 3-level conveyor belt system, and after placing orders through a tablet, each dish arrives with a zip of the belt. The unserious and fun vibes aren’t just a gimmick either: the sushi quality is also solid.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on¬†Instagram,¬†TikTok,¬†Twitter,¬†Facebook,¬†Pinterest, and¬†YouTube.

Tae Yoon¬†was born and raised in Queens, New York. He’s the Senior Editor of East, Local cities and oversees¬†Thrillist New York,¬†Thrillist Boston,¬†Thrillist DC, and¬†Thrillist Philadelphia.

Lifestyle

The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena
Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood
Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Montrose
Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Westchester
Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

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