Fellow DC Newcomers: unless you were fortunate enough to have lived a stint in the majestic town of Oxford, Mississippi (shout out to Square Books) or an equally quaint, American community, you probably liken wonderfully quirky, independent bookstores to old, drive-in movie theaters – nostalgic establishments of which you would take full advantage had they not become extinct.
Alas, this is not at all the case. I’m pleased to report that my move from the crooked letter state to our nation’s capital has shown me that curious bookstores are alive and well, perhaps just requiring a face lift every few decades – but hey, who doesn’t?
I’ve done a fair amount of mindless moseying around since my relocation to DC, and it’s fairly difficult to turn down dusty books staring at me through yellow-tinted, grimy glass windows. Consequently, my lack of will power has induced countless bookstore drop-ins, and I feel as though I’ve explored enough to be able to share those local DC bookstores that I find most engaging.
Second Story Books, conveniently located in the heart of Dupont Circle, has such a variety of items that it is sure to keep the book/music enthusiast entertained for hours. At this bookstore, you will find a plethora of academic collections, signed editions, historic collectibles, as well as your basic literary genres.
If at any time you find that you need a little break from words, peer into the music section of the store and twirl a classic LP or two. Not only does Second Story Books provide more interesting material than one could sort through in a lifetime, but the basic literature selection is extremely affordable, much cheaper than your average commercial bookstore.
Capitol Hill Books is an excellent option for those of you who toil upon the hill. This small building is literally exploding with books – first editions, used books, as well as a selection of rare collections. The curious appeal to this store is that there are different sections which house specific genres; for example, the “Weird Section” is designed to appeal to those who are the more intellectual “Twilight” type.
Politics & Prose, although located between Chevy Chase and Van Ness, is worth the scenic cruise up Wisconsin Avenue. As if the name of the store isn’t endearing enough, this is truly an establishment for the community. Almost every day, there are author readings proceeded by Q & A sessions.
Also, and quite impressively, Politics & Prose provides 20 different book groups to satisfy various and far reaching literary yearnings – topics ranging from James Joyce to Science Fiction to Travel. This bookstore deserves a few exclamation marks on your DC To Do List.