Novel Settings

Novel Settings

Koffee?, Book Trader and Fussy are choice locations to sit among a cohort of locals typing away on sticker-stuck laptops. But if your great American novel demands an atmospheric shake-up, we’ve got ideas:

The Tinker Lab at Ives Main Library (map)
If you’re looking for quiet, tables and wifi, look no further than this community makerspace set between the lobby and the cafe. Anytime the library is open, so is the Tinker Lab, so return your overdue copy of The Lincoln Highway and settle in. Bonus points awarded for seating variety, AC and sewing machine crafting breaks.

The Graduate Hotel (map)
Live your best Gilmore Girls fantasy within the expansive lobby of this fancy hotel. Known for its literary charm and Ivy League enthusiasm, the Graduate offers nooks and crannies, good light and an air of metropolitan productivity—plus a coffee bar. After your work is done (or before. Or during. Whatever fuels your literary genius!), pop downstairs to a traditional bar, Old Heidelberg, for a drink and free popcorn.

sponsored by

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Beinecke Plaza (map)
Get inspired by the iconic marble, glass and parchment of Yale’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library (there’s a Gutenberg Bible!), then take a seat outside in either sun or shade . In the warmer months, you might jostle with Yalies for tables or eavesdrop on a college tour group; in the winter, enjoy the lack of snow due to the heated tiles of the plaza floor. While the Beinecke doesn’t offer public restrooms or refreshments, the outdoor plaza is just a block away from York Street’s bounty of shops and cafes.

Pardee Seawall (map)
Overlooking the mouth of New Haven Harbor, this soft grassy strip evokes a beachy writer’s retreat without any sand getting in the hinge of your laptop. Every so often you might get distracted by a passing Labrador or seagulls chatting overhead, but that only adds to the delight of this seaside perch. And you can give your Spotify playlist a break, opting instead for mellow, refreshing waves lapping the seawall.

Yale University Art Gallery (map)
More than a gallery, the YUAG is a museum of art and antiquities with plenty of places to write, people-watch and reminisce on that one art history class from undergrad. In good weather, visitors can enjoy the courtyard sculpture garden or, in any weather, find natural light from the incredible array of contemporary and neo-Gothic windows. Whether you opt for a modernist armchair in the lobby, a bench in a gallery room or a foldable stool to carry with you (just ask a front desk attendant), this downtown treasure never fails to engage and inspire.

All the better if your novel involves a murder beneath a Lichtenstein or needs authentic descriptions of early American furniture.

Written by Miki Cornwell. Image 1, at the Tinker Lab, photographed by Vicky Blume. Images 2 and 3, at the Graduate and Beinecke Plaza, respectively, photographed by Dan Mims. Image 4, at the YUAG, photographed by Miki Cornwell.

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