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broodings from the burrow

October 7, 2022

baby, engaged, and the hunt
posted by soe 1:18 am

Three beautiful things from my past week all involve my volleyball friends:

1. Sergio and his wife are having a baby this month, and a bunch of us went in on a group gift. We had agreed to a plan, which included my taking care of the ordering. I knew the money would follow, but yesterday and today it started to pour in and kept doing so. Today, I got to go and buy some extra books to zero us out. When we presented him with the gift and he read everyone’s messages, he nearly broke down and I got a touching email from him when he got home to open some of the gifts with his wife.

2. Chris proposed to his girlfriend last week and she said yes.

3. My friends Neal and Amy agreed to take part in a literary scavenger hunt with me last weekend. We solved riddles, clues, and puns and visited a number of literary-themed sites (including the main library, where I finally got to ride the slide!) It helps to be able to ignore the signs stating there’s an age limit when you have a tweet from the head librarian giving you the green light. It ended up being such a blast, and while Amy is moving away, I think Neal would do it again with me next year.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

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October 4, 2022

top ten favorite bookstores of d.c.
posted by soe 1:55 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is to share ten of our favorite bookstores.

I’m lucky enough to live in D.C., where we have a ton of great indie bookshops, so I thought I’d share my favorites of those with you:

  1. Politics and Prose: With three locations around the city and daily author visits, this is the first place I’d recommend visiting, particularly their original and largest location (which boasts a cafe). They have a great kids’ room, the broadest nonfiction section of any store in D.C., and a music section. Plus, they have a whole room dedicated to remainders, and who can resist that?
  2. Bridge Street Books: This narrow townhouse bookstore in Georgetown often gets overlooked, but it’s our oldest indie (42!) and now a nonprofit. If you’re looking for philosophy or poetry, I’d definitely stop here first.
  3. East City Bookshop: Recently expanded, East City takes pride in its calling as a neighborhood bookstore for the residents of Capitol Hill. They’ve got a vibrant book club scene, great pre-order opportunities, and a well-stocked kids’ book section. Plus, they celebrate the dogs of the neighborhood in a nook next to the door.
  4. Capitol Hill Books: If you were going to imagine a used bookstore, what would you envision? Lots of space, with books alluringly arranged to catch your eye? If so, Capitol Hill Books is not for you. If, however, you said, books jammed onto every surface of the three floors of a townhouse imaginable, including the restroom windowsill (although no longer the stairs), with curmudgeonly owners, its own music album, and the sharpest-fingered Twitter account in the District, this is the place for you. (Since the start of the pandemic, they also sell a selection of new books and offer mystery book bundles, but I think they’ve put their monthly patio happy hours on hiatus.)
  5. Loyalty Bookstore: I loved this neighborhood bookstore under its original owner (as Upshur Street Books) and I love it even more in its current iteration, with its Black- and Queer-owned identity front and center. I haven’t visited their Silver Spring, Maryland, location yet, but I understand it has an even broader selection than its Petworth shop. Plus, if you want anti-goliath bookstore swag, they’ve got you covered.
  6. Second Story Books: Dupont Circle’s used bookshop is known for their corner location, antiques, window displays, and the trolleys of used books they put out on nice days to lure customers in. If you were looking for recent ARCs being sold on the not-so-down-low, this is where I’d send you. Also, I once spent a pleasant rainy afternoon alphabetizing their middle grade and YA shelves without anyone asking what I was doing, which means you’ll be free to browse as long as you’d like.
  7. Solid State Books: Another of our community bookshops, Solid State is now integral to the H Street, N.E., neighborhood and its residents. This is a shop I’d send you to particularly if you were looking for kids books or literary gifts and the only one accessible by streetcar. Plus, they have a cafe, so you can buy a book and a drink and spend the afternoon reading away without having to venture further afield if you don’t want to.
  8. MahoganyBooks: Black family-owned, this bookstore currently sports two locations (its original in Anacostia and now at National Harbor for the tourists) and will soon open a spot at National Airport for travelers. This is a small, but mighty community shop, with a robust calendar of author events and a knowledgeable staff. I visited on my birthday the year they opened, and they hand-sold me a book of poetry and then, when the author (Elizabeth Acevedo, before she was so well known) stopped in before I’d left the building, asked her to sign my copy for me.
  9. Sankofa Video, Books & Cafe: Sankofa is the oldest of D.C.’s Black-owned bookstores and it is a pillar of lower Georgia Avenue. Its cafe does brisk business on weekends and if you’re on the hunt for books by Black authors or on Black history or culture, I’d tell you to start here.
  10. Kramers: This is probably the indie bookstore best known by tourists to D.C., which, along with its pandemic-reduced hours, is the only reason my neighborhood shop falls at the bottom of my list. You’ll always find the hottest books here, and their window displays draw folks in. Plus, their bar and restaurant are packed on weekends. I am sad that they got rid of their pint glasses, which had a book-themed version of the D.C. flag on them, and which I perennially included in literary-themed packages, but they will deliver books locally within the hour, which is good for those who live more than four blocks away. (They also offer haircuts, which just seems weird.)

And, no, these aren’t the only bookshops in D.C. We’ve got at least nine more that I can think of off the top of my head, and I might be missing a couple.

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