Reader’s Corner: Speakeasy Bookstore is No More

Once upon a time, you could stroll to 84th Street on the Upper East Side, ring the right doorbell at the right hour of day, and find yourself in a magical little place: Michael Seidenberg’s Brazenhead Books. Technically a rent-controlled apartment, Seidenberg ran the secretive book-stuffed space as a hybrid literary hangout, multipurpose salon, and (occasional) bookstore.

Like all such ephemeral joys, Brazenhead is coming to an end, a victim of its increasing popularity and an itchy landlord.

Jessica Loudis wrote about hanging out at Brazenhead for Aesop:

It’s not mandatory to bring a bottle of whiskey to Brazenhead Books … but failing to do so could be considered bad form. That, however, is as far as formalities extend … Business comes through word of mouth. After being greeted at the door, strangers strike up conversations that trail off once a desirable acquisition is spotted and then stay for hours, squeezing into narrow rooms teeming with classic paperbacks and pristine first editions. Seidenberg is former puppeteer and street book salesman. Last time I went to Brazenhead—having visited only once, a year earlier—he told me he had been expecting my visit, as I had made a cameo in his dream the night before.

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