From the Desk of Steve Israel

March 24th, 2022

In a polarized, poisonous political environment, where everyone seems angry at everyone else and the anger flashes in incendiary punditry and explosive tweets, may I suggest finding refuge at our bookshop? 

Creating such a refuge was one reason I decided to open Theodore’s last November. 1,528 square feet. Nearly 10,000 books. Books from the left, the right, the middle or nowhere in particular. Political books and (mostly) non-political books. No jerks allowed. (We actually have a sign that says so).  

I was honored and privileged to have served in Congress for 16 years. But I’d also had enough partisan sniping and sound-bytes. I was tired of media interviews where I addressed complex, complicated issues as if I were packing a fireworks shell that would explode across the political landscape and ignite Twitter tweets and retweets. (Fact check: some issues need more than two minutes on television or 280 characters to explain). And I very deeply resented the likelihood that one errant word, one phrase subject to misinterpretation, could and would be twisted grotesquely and used against me. 

A bookshop disqualifies all of those possibilities. No spin; but the studious turning of pages. No finger pointing unless it helps you track the words on a page. No pontificating other than the helpful recommendations of our expert booksellers: Peggy, Emily, Anne, Hannah, and must recently, Chloe. (I handle history and current events, so don’t hesitate to ask me for a recommendation). 

And what better homage than to Theodore Roosevelt, who lived and worked in our hometown in Oyster Bay! I’m told there were about 7,000 books in his library at Sagamore Hill (someone correct me if I’m misinformed). Roosevelt wrote and read voraciously, and his commitment to literature is well-reflected on our shelves. 

Last weekend, my former colleague, Rep. Peter King and I led a book discussion with Michael Dowling (president and CEO of Northwell) at Theodore’s. In Congress, King and I disagreed on many issues, but we found ways to work together. In the shop, we spent an hour sharing views on Dowling’s excellent memoir, When the Roof Caved In. It was civil. Entertaining. Informative.

That was exactly what I had in mind when I opened Theodore's. 

If you’re in the neighborhood, see for yourself.

You can learn more about our events at in the event tab.

Happy reading! 

Steve Israel

P.S. My current reading is Erik Larson’s The Splendid & The Vile. It’s about Churchill’s extraordinary leadership during the German bombings of London in 1940-41. Also, a fascinating parallel to President Zelensky in Ukraine. 

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385348737
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - February 15th, 2022