Mon-Tue, 11am-8pm; Wed-Sat, 11am-8:30pm; Sun, noon-7pm
A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.; 1 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
In 1968, when a trio of friends opened Three Lives & Company, named for a book by Gertrude Stein, no gigantic, corporate book-selling monstrosities existed to threaten this small, independent book boutique. Times have changed, but the cozy shop has not, staying committed to providing New Yorkers with some of the best books available, even after its founders sold it to current owner, Toby Cox, in 2002. Because the highly literate and helpful staff likes to encourage communication and questions, the store has no signage denoting its various sections and subjects. As a result, the organization can be a bit opaque, but here's the general layout: Upon entering, look for staff recommendations, including new hardcovers and paperbacks. To the left, find small sections of art and cooking, along with New York-centric, gay-themed and mystery books. Around the corner, dig into the meat of the store: A carefully built selection of literary fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Past that, another small nook is devoted to travel guides. Books cover every horizontal and most vertical surfaces, and because Toby likes to rearrange things once (if not twice) a day, displays change constantly, so there's always the chance to discover something you've never noticed before.