Albany’s Urban Aftermath Used Bookstore is a Continuing Legacy

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The Urban Aftermath Bookstore in Albany may be tiny, but you can get lost for a long time exploring its intricate arrangement of treasures, a muse to its artist owner.

The books are stacked neatly, horizontally and vertically. Scattered throughout the store are vinyl and an eclectic assortment of vintage toys and antiques, like a wooden cane rack and basket of baseball mitts. And there’s original artwork on the walls, including drawings by the owner.

Owner Hassan Elminyawi wasn’t there when I passed, but we chatted on the phone about his shop, his books, reuse, town centers and art. And no wonder he said he liked to read about MC Escher. The bookstore layout has the feel of an Escher design, all interlocking and aesthetically pleasing. The first room is mostly old books and the other room is $5 books, where I found a new copy of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. My old one crumbled in my hands when I started proofreading. I thought I’d check out a used bookstore to replace it.

“I mean, obviously you’ve seen that we love books but we also do art. I love making art and selling my art to the shop,” Elminyawi said. by people’s attics, basements and garages. … I’ll find something that really means nothing to someone or means nothing in general. it’s like basically trash. But when I put it in my shop, it becomes gold in my eyes.Toys that have appeared on the shop’s Instagram feed include Gumby, an old Barbie bike, and ninja turtles.

Elminyawi started the business nearly 13 years ago because it’s waste-free and selling books is a family affair.

“So to put it into perspective, my dad used to sell books, I sell books, and my three younger brothers sell books. Yeah, so we’re a family of booksellers.

He started selling books online in graduate school while at the University of Albany. He then opened the boutique on Hamilton Street in the Center Square neighborhood of Albany about seven years ago. Even though Elminyawi has since landed a day job with the state, he continues to operate the bookstore on Saturdays to stimulate his creativity and support the arts.

“I love being part of city life and I’ve met so many good people and had so many good conversations at my bookstore,” said Elminyawi, who is a trained urban planner.

“I think bookstores are the building blocks of cities. In fact, I really believe that if you want a healthy neighborhood, put a bookstore there and see what happens.”

SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS

In other book-related pursuits, the Adirondacks looks like the perfect place for bibliophiles and budding authors next weekend.

Kudos to this event for the best book festival name ever. New York State author Ayad Akhtar and New York State poet Willie Perdomo will open the Adirondack Center for Writing’s 2022 Kickass Writers Festival by reading their works at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 19 at the Pendragon Theater of Saranac Lake. It’s free and a collaboration between Adirondack Center for Writing and the NYS Writers Institute. Registration is mandatory.

And then there’s the Adirondack Family Book Festival on Saturday, August 20 at John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid.

The festival features its own selection of young adult and children’s book authors, including:

  • Two-time National Book Award finalist Laura Ruby, author of ‘Bone Gap’ and ‘Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All’.
  • Linda Sue Park, 2002 Newbery Medal winner, author of ‘A Single Shard’, ‘A Long Walk to Water’ and ‘The One Thing You’d Save’.
  • Kekla Magoon, author of “The Season of Styx Malone,” “How It Went Down” (a Coretta Scott King honor book), and National finalist “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People” Book Award.

Find the whole program here: adirondackfamilybookfestival.wordpress.com

As for what I read these last days of summer, well, “The unbearable lightness of being”, just to see if it holds up; “I Came All This Way to Meet You” by Jami Attenberg (I’m also a big fan of his #1000wordsofsummer, which encourages writing productivity in a community way); and “The Man Who Could Move the Clouds” by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, an amazing memoir with a touch of magic.


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