I miss good bookstores. I mean good bookstores. Not chain bookstores that hide books down rows and rows of genre headings. Not independent bookstores that carry either only current bestsellers or only obscure books that no one has ever heard of. I mean bookstores that carry a variety of titles arranged in a way that not only draws your eye but encourages you to pick up books, read the back cover, the first page, see if they insist you take them home with you. Bookstores whose inventories are obviously not generated (solely) by computer, but by some sort of thoughtful process, taking into consideration those who frequent their store. These are the places I miss. I’ve missed them for years. But during our weekend in Washington, D.C., we rediscovered the joy of a good bookstore–not once, but twice!
The first store was a revisit from times past. Second Story Books is a near DuPont Circle and features out-of-print, used and rare books. Their selection in history is to die for. Seriously. If I had an unlimited budget (and unlimited space in my suitcase!) I would have loaded up. These are not titles I run across in my local used bookstores. Either the DC crowd is more well-read in this area than the Dallas crowd or the Dallas crowd has room in their houses to hang on to their books! And their children’s book section is pretty fabulous, too. We spent a lovely evening after dinner browsing the shelves here.
The second store we found through one of those online “Ten Best Bookstores in America” lists. When we saw the name, we had high hopes that this was a place for us. Even though it required a car ride to get there from our hotel, we didn’t hesitate. And we are so glad we didn’t! Politics & Prose is an awesome bookstore! Bookshelves line the walls, but many, many books are set out on tables for easy browsing. They had the basic divisions of subject, but in general, all fiction was just “fiction.” And there was a lot of it. Books new to me, in spite of all the time I spend online at book sites and book blogs. (Which goes to show that even if you get your book information on the internet, you can never hear about all the books you might like!) So many books captured my imagination. Again, had we had an unlimited budget and unlimited luggage room, we would have come away with more than 2 books–both titles already on our long wish lists. I loved the unique selections of non-fiction and biography, too. And humor! Literary, thinking humor that book lovers get. (Check out this one: Texts from Jane Eyre. Hilarious! Or how about The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure. I think every writer needs that one! I still may have to get them!) They also had some unique book lovers gifts, which are always fun, too.
All in all, two very satisfying bookstore visits for these two book-loving souls. I highly recommend making time for one or both of these if you are ever in DC. Politics & Prose also hosts book clubs and has tons of high-profiile author events, which we will definitely be checking out on future visits!
So tell me–do you have a favorite bookstore? I’d especially like to hear about undiscovered gems in different cities that we can seek out if we ever visit! And who knows? Maybe we’ll call and ask you to come along! 🙂