Nancy Berlage, December 2003
Wondering what to do between meeting sessions or job interviews? Go to a bookstore. Washington has many fine bookstores near the meeting hotels. As the center of politics and government in America, the city offers some great choices for political, historical, and nonfiction subjects. Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse (5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, about a half a mile north of the Van Ness stop on the Red Line, or a short cab ride) is popular for book signings, readings, and lively discussions.
The Dupont Circle area also has a number of bookshops. Second Story Books (20th and P Sts. NW) is one of Washington's premier carriers of used and vintage books. Lambda Rising (1625 Connecticut Ave. NW) specializes in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender literature and nonfiction. If you want to catch a little music along with a bite to eat and an eclectic collection of hard-to-find titles, you may consider visiting Kramerbooks & Afterwords (1517 Connecticut Ave. NW). Second Story, Kramerbooks, and Lambda Rising are all near the Dupont Circle Metro stop on the Red Line. In Adams Morgan, Idle Time Books (2410 18th St. NW) is worth a look.
Georgetown, a little further away, and best reached by cab (or the Georgetown Metro Connection bus from the Foggy Bottom Metro Station on the Orange Line), is another area with several bookshops: try Bartleby's Books for antiquarian and Americana books and ephemera (3034 M St. NW, at Jefferson, second floor) or The Lantern (3241 P St. NW), the charity store of Bryn Mawr alumnae, for a surprisingly good selection of used books.
Downtown, Chapters: A Literary Bookstore, D.C.'s premier literary spot, has brand-new digs at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (entrance at 445 11th St. NW). Bader Franz Bookstore (1911 I St. NW, Farragut West on the Orange/Blue Line) features titles on art, art history, architecture, design, graphics, and photography. Reiter's Scientific & Professional Books, just around the corner at 2021 K St. NW, offers a vast array of technical books in virtually any field. You may want to take your good credit card because they feature the pricier titles. On Capitol Hill, Trover Shop (221 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Capitol South Metro on the Orange/Blue Line) specializes in books for the politically savvy and is a favorite of the Capitol Hill crowd. If you wish to go further afield in pursuit of that special find, try Second Story Books and Georgetown Books in Bethesda, both a short walk from the Bethesda stop on the Red Line. You can find an exhaustive listing of bookstores in the D.C. area at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/na-dc.htm and at http://www.washingtonbooksellers.com/waba/.
Nancy Berlage is a senior historian with History Associates Incorporated in Rockville, Maryland.