More often than I admit, I give myself a gift of a visit to a used book store or two. What a treasure trove of human mind and spirit they are! I happily get lost in them for hours and emerge exhausted and joyful, with a box full of books.
For me, buying books online, as convenient as it is, will never compare to experiencing the thrill of a hunt amongst endless bookshelves, stumbling upon unexpected treasures and discovering entire areas of knowledge new to me.
Here are my favorite used bookstores in DC area. In the future, I will continue to add to this list as well as include independent bookstores (such as Kramerbooks and Politics & Prose).
Second Story Books
12160 Parklawn Dr, Rockville MD
This enormous book warehouse (or should I say book temple?) has one of the largest collections of used books in the world. Their website states succinctly: “Our expansive warehouse/retail/headquarters facility, houses over a half million books, plus graphics and LPS, with new inventory being added daily.” Come for the afternoon, take your time, and allow yourself to wander.
Explore their website if you like virtual browsing by category to supplement your real life book hunting. You can also sign up for their wonderfully detailed newsletter at http://www.secondstorybooks.com/newsletter.php.
Second Story Books
2000 P St NW, Washington, DC
This classy store offers a gift of an extremely well organized book collection, including rare books, as well as a delightful experience of browsing books on a sidewalk.
And if you like to keep your favorite bookstore close on social media, you can follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@SSBDupont. A recent, charmingly matter-of-fact Tweet states: “We’re a second-hand book store, so we will have the new Harry Potter book in about 8 months.”
Capitol Hill Books
657 C St. SE, Washington DC
Capitol Hill Books is a fascinating place to spend a lazy afternoon in Eastern Market neighborhood. The store is larger than it looks and is literally stocked with books floor to ceiling. Their website states, truthfully, that “Every bit of space in the store has a book, and there really is one here, somewhere, for you.”
Washingtonian Magazine has recently published a hillarious interview with the owner, “Capitol Hill Books Has DC’s Most Curmudgeonly Store Owner“.
Last, but not least, Capitol Hill Books deserve to be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@chbooks for their brave, heartbreaking and tremendously funny bio alone:
“Bookstore. Into selective luddism and remembering that we are all doomed. Maybe come buy our books.”
I will come buy their books, no maybe’s about that! Will you?
PS: This is just a short list of my favorite bookstores. If you are looking for a more comprehensive and a less subjective source, here is an impressive list courtesy of DCist: Best Of D.C.’s Used And Independent Bookstores.
PPS: The information is up to date as of August 7, 2016.