Affairs with the Bookstores in Washington D.C.

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit a dear friend who lives in the District of Columbia. I had been several years before, and, while interested in hitting up the fascinating museums in the area, as much as I hate to admit it, was rather stricken by the fact that the area just happened to be experiencing record temperature highs. Now before you go on and pass judgement, let me just say that 103 is not the most desired temperature to be galavanting in an area crowded with more tourists (and boyscouts) than I had seen since NYC. Nevertheless, Q bravely trekked the streets with me in numerous upbeat and beautiful neighborhoods, in a search to find used book shops; specifically, shops that would compel me to purchase far more than necessary, and run home to tell anyone, and everyone, that would listen to the unthinkable finds I had made. Well, we stumbled upon two that caught my attention; the first, Riverby Books, was truly delightful. The store's courtyard alone, with such an enchanting fountain, was a welcoming refuge from the heat, which beckoned us to take heed inside the store. I was sure to give thanks to the air conditioning unit blowing cooly and silently, in rhythm with the concerto playing overhead, while I stood on tip-toes searching for "must-read" titles on my Goodreads list. Q, thoroughly exhausted from the heat, sat in a wooden chair by a window, which encouraged tiny beams of light to fall upon many bound pages, and allowed me to search until I had my fill. Finally, at peace, fully charged and cooled down, we made our exit.  In the end, I walked out with three wonderful purchases and a smile on my face.

The second happened by pure chance, and I certainly could not have been luckier, or more overjoyed!  I was delighted when Q suggested that we spend Saturday morning/afternoon at Eastern Market, a space that normally resides in my dreams, but was actualized in the form of stalls abounding with fresh fruits, like plump strawberries, bright blackberries, blood red cherries and juicy melons of all sizes, and an appetizing assortment of vegetables, too.  Heaven on Earth, I felt that market might be, with tables of jams and jellies, snack size bites for the hungry audience; it's amazing I even saw Capitol Hill Books. However, while winding my way through the throngs of people making their farm to table purchases, I spotted the cluttered bookstore out of the corner of my eye, and quickly drug Q and a friend to take a look. I can't say I was completely ignorant of it's existence, I had found it while using Google to find used book stores in the D.C. area, but hadn't taken the time to write down any information that would help me locate it upon arriving. I had forgotten the name, until I saw the crooked sign above the shop window filled with books. While this bookstore's charm and unique experience made me the happiest woman alive, I will warn readers that the shop is a very small and narrow building, with a staircase barely wide enough to allow one person going one way. The shop is also extremely crowded, and locating titles is a serious task. While the books are arranged alphabetically by the author's last name, chances are, you'll still end up stacking books in one arm, in order to use your other arm to reach behind the first stack and search through the second stack that was stuffed behind it on the shelf.

For me, however, I was overjoyed when 15 minutes of a balancing act I could take to the road ended abruptly upon finding a book I had coveted for quite some time, stuffed between 15 or so books on a small shelf, four inches above my head. After 20 or so minutes, I gathered four and made my way to the register, where a collection of new releases (also used) and favorites were perched in model like positions, with small slips of paper advertising sardonic messages that had nothing to do with the plot of the title, poking fun at everything from politics, to the faux-ending of the Harry Potter series. I can't say I've seen much like that in the Atlanta area; certainly an experience I'll never forget: climbing past individuals I didn't know, sweaty limbs brushing by every so gently and listening to conversations in cramped spaces. I wasn't surprised when I stepped out onto the street and up the small bench where Q sat waiting, and heard her say, "I've never seen someone leave a bookstore as happy as you look right now." It was true, the crowded/cozy/crazy atmosphere of the book shop made me grin from ear to ear.

 Overall, I would've really enjoyed another week in Washington, not only to find more great book deals, but to spend more time with Q, who was, by the way, completely engrossed in The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Despite the overwhelming gloom that set in upon my return to normalcy after an exhilarating weekend away from the homestead, I had to keep in mind that I had just returned with a large stack of books that I couldn't wait to dive into. Furthermore, I really want to share each of those treasures here.
Oh, and did I mention that shortly before I left I received Memory Wall: Stories in the mail, which was featured on my previous post. I'm really enjoying Doerr's prose and will be posting upon completion in the near future.  

I haven't made this post to persuade readers to go out and frivolously purchase books, but I do highly encourage avid readers to search out book treasures in far away destinations, because you never know what might turn up.  Here's a photo of the books I collected this weekend, as well as two that arrived in the mail the day I returned. Here's to happy reading! 

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1 comment:

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