by Beth Garbitelli
Photo: Flickr user JSDesign
Rest in peace Barnes and Noble, dear old book megastore of M Street, a ‘goddamn piazza’ where books were sold wholesale, like cans of olive oil at a price club. (thank you infinitely relevant scriptwriting of Nora Ephron).
Now that the staple alternative to the campus bookstore’s meager stacks has bit the bullet, here are a few other stores around the District worth checking out that have more character than the go-to chains.
Bridge Street Books (2814 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
If you keep hoofing on M Street, you’ll reach this gem. Bridge Street is two stories full of great classic works and smart non-fiction. Some professors at Georgetown request that you get certain books here over the campus store since it’s independent. One caveat is lack of space. There aren’t any chairs or tables that you can work or read at. The store’s proximity is its biggest draw.
Kramerbooks (1517 Connecticut Avenue NW )
Kramerbooks is hands down my favorite bookstore in the District. The book selection features rows upon rows of quality literature from the last two centuries. They also have a decent offering of non-fiction, some essays and poetry. Added bonus of Kramerbooks is the attached cafe where they serve up delicious main plates and some truly special desserts. Try the peach cobbler.
Busboys and Poets (2021 14th St NW)
This joint is more utilized for its cafe but don’t miss the shelves by the front. BB & P focuses on progressive non-fiction and obviously, poetry. Not the best place to do quiet reading or studying but it has a buzzy atmosphere that makes you feel more edgy for being there.
Capitol Hill Books (657 C Street SE )
If you dig books that have lived a little, don’t miss this snug spot up on the Hill across from Eastern Market. Hard to tell what they’ll have since the merchandise at used book stores is constantly fluctuating but that makes finding good ones more fun. You can also donate your old books here.
Politics & Prose (5015 Connecticut Avenue NW)
Besides having an array of books, P & P frequently hosts notable literary folks for signings. Downstairs, they also have a cafe that does goodies and coffee bar drinks. The store is unfortunately a bit of a hike up Connecticut so you’ll need to get there via the very unstable and unlovable WMATA. Worth a trip though, especially if you are going to check out a speaker or book signing.