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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.

Category: books,dc life. There is/are 4 Comments.

4 Comments so far
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A nice list. How lovely to get a book signed.

Have a great week!

Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog
My post:
https://budgettalesblog.wordpress.com/2022/10/04/top-ten-tuesday-favourite-bookstores-or-bookstores-id-love-to-visit/

Comment by Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog 10.04.22 @ 7:27 am

I had no idea DC had so many bookshops! I visited about ten years or so ago, but we weren’t there very long, so didn’t get the chance to explore as much as I would have liked. Hopefully one day I’ll get the chance to go again (though it will probably be a while, UK to US flights are so expensive!).
My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2022/10/04/top-ten-tuesday-388/

Comment by Jo 10.04.22 @ 11:17 am

Love your list!! I live in Central Maryland, so not too far from you. We have Politics and Prose nearby, but it’s mostly a cafe and not a bookstore really. I am planning to visit the Second Story location near me soon. There aren’t any indie bookstores that I can drive to for new books (I’m somewhat limited as far as driving goes), so I just order from a local indie store online when I want new books. 🙂

Comment by Meezan 10.04.22 @ 4:14 pm



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