“We read,” said author C.S. Lewis, “to know that we are not alone.” The ability of books and literature to foster community has long been celebrated, but there is more to the story than the stories themselves. A carefully crafted library is a meditative space, one accented with inviting chairs and pleasant lighting. It is a place where ideas can be shared with others or enjoyed in silence. In a library designed with purpose, minutes can slip effortlessly into hours.
Coterie regards these tranquil spaces as essential to well-being. For this reason, we have partnered with renowned independent bookstore, McNally Jackson, to curate such a library for residents. Over 800 exceptional titles have been hand-selected to bring the very best of new fiction, classic literature, and hidden gems to the hands of readers. Those with unique interests will find them reflected in areas devoted to history, science and nature, and philosophy.
Since its opening in 2004, McNally Jackson has been a standout in the world of books. With four locations in the heart of New York City, it offers a peerless collection of titles to patrons of every age and every interest. Its vibrant atmosphere is now a mainstay of the SoHo and Brooklyn literary scene.
The success of McNally Jackson is, however, somewhat of an anomaly. The rise of online shopping and popularity of eBooks were once thought to be a death knell for bookstores. But even as large retail outlets closed locations or went out of business altogether, economists were surprised to find independent retailers like McNally Jackson thriving under the same conditions.
Harvard professor Ryan Raffaelli has studied this phenomenon in extensive fashion. His findings, published in 2019, attributed the perseverance of McNally Jackson to the fact the space had become more than just a store. It was, instead, an authentic anchor of its community. This authenticity is reflected in what he describes as the three Cs: convening, curation, and community.
To convene, to gather, necessitates an atmosphere that draws its visitors. Our library is spacious yet intimate, with cheerful lighting and a fireplace that suggests an open invitation to spend time. Curation is found in the hundreds of titles selected to pique the curiosity of a local audience, with offerings in both regular and large-print to facilitate ease of reading.
And community, perhaps most importantly, is found in the gentle conversations that take place amongst the shelves, or in helpful staff there with guidance or a recommendation. Starting this Spring, a McNally Jackson team member will select the first title to be discussed at a regular book club. The team member will guide conversations that explore the themes of the book in a way that connects residents with those larger meanings and, in the process, to one another.
This shared ethic, the three Cs, acknowledge the affirming and enhancing power of books and literature. They are what makes McNally Jackson a natural partner as we strive to bring its magic to our sophisticated, authentic setting.