the kind of return business you find at Barber Shop

Getting into comics- a/k/a graphic novels, a/k/a "Don't call them 'graphic novels/ you sound like a douchebag"- is daunting for newcomers: so much to absorb, so many stigmas and clich��s to roll your eyes at, so many X-Men tides to choose from. Brooklyn's Rocketship, on Smith Street in Cobble Hill, tends toward die lit-scene-approved side of things: You're more likely to find a book-length epic, like Charles Burns's Black Hole, than die latest dalliances of SpiderMan. But for tiiose whose experience doesn't extend much necklaces clearance beyond Watchmen, the impeccably neat, tiioughtfully organized spot is a good place to expand your horizons without feeling overwhelmed or judged. Plus their constant slate of special guests and events is top-notch: Any friend of die guy who does Achewood is a friend of ours. Consider this a clean, well-lit place for books with pictures.

A good shave is . . . exhilarating, but surprisingly hard to find. Most barber shops don't perform them, and for good reason: They rarely make sense economically, unless a shop can be assured of the kind of return business you find at Barber Shop (yes, thafs the full name). The Russian trio of Yosef, Ross, and Albert are master craftsmen, poised and never in any rush. (A flat-screen TV pacifies the waiting.) There are plenty of hot and cold towels to go around, and Noxzema is never used. After a 20-minute job, Ross accessories clearance and Albert conclude matters with a quick, but very effective, facial massage (sorry, they don't do ear lobes. That's another story). The trio and Len (who manages the place) also give pretty good haircuts ($12; crew cuts $10),too,relying on scissors to do their work. Just a shave? $12. In the end, you exit a changed man. Something is different You want the world to know. 175 Second Avenue, 212-254-6373

The Astor Place Barnes & Noble shuttered and became a gym, but around the corner, the small and purposeful Shakespeare & Co. is still kicking. What began as an Upper West Side bookseller (that site closed in 2000) is rings clearance now one of the last non-evil chain stores in the city. Of the remaining locales, which include the UES, Gramercy, and Brooklyn College, the 719 Broadway branch is the oldest, serving the Village for close to 25 years, before Felicity went to NYU and started a whole new era. On that highly trafficked strip of Noho, you'll be hard-pressed to find anything else so ancient. So, one blustery day this winter, why not pick up something from the store's own bestseller list (compiled from its weekly sales), wrap yourself up in an American Apparel scarf, kick back at Wendy's, and have a nice, relaxing read.