In Law and Order SVU the character Chester Lake has such severe insomnia that he roams the city every night, which gives him an excuse for knowing every nighttime sound of every borough. Why he doesn't just stay home and read a book like the rest of New York's insomaniac is never quite explained. However, if you're an insomniac New York reader who, like Chester Lake, just can't stay at home and be awake, there are some options for late night reading in the city that never sleeps.
The first option is the Tick Tock Diner. The Tick Tock Diner, located in the lobby of the New Yorker hotel and across the street from Penn Station, is not a fancy place. To say that it doesn't have great ambiance doesn't even begin to describe it, and the food is mediocre on a good night (definitely stick with breakfast or grilled cheese or another diner favorite). But the thing is Tick Tock is wide open 24 hours a day, so the people watching, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, is fantastic. What might you see? A troupe of drunken Belgian chefs or a team of drunken Peruvian rugby players. Or a whole heap of girls with big hair who were driven in by van from New Jersey. Regardless, if you order yourself a full meal and a cup of coffee, you can finish reading War and Peace here. Or maybe get some ideas for characters in a War and Peace of your own!
The second option for when reading replaces sleeping is Think Coffee. If you spend the wee, or nearly wee hours here, you can get jacked up on very tasty coffee and equally tasty grilled cheese sandwiches,. Three of the Manhattan locations for Think Coffee are open until midnight or later and their Mercer location stays open until midnight and has free wifi.