I was lucky enough to be sent to another training and conference by my office to Washington, DC. And even though -as usual- the schedule is a bit cruel, fortunately I could still find some time to visit a few great bookstores during my stay in the city.
The last time I went to DC was four years ago (you can read the story here), and I thought I could just go to the same places like before, visit the stores that I’ve been familiar with.
But – thanks to the most helpful Yelp, and some suggestions from friends and colleagues, I have found several additional hidden gems – places that made me so very happy being a bookworm.
One of the most memorable places – and I dedicate this whole post to it- is Capitol Hill Books, located not far from the famous Capitol building. You can reach the place by Metro, stop at Capitol South station or Eastern Market station, and walk a few blocks. The store is a three story building located in an eclectic residential area, among the brick houses, cute cafes and unique stores.
Looking at the store, I felt goosebumps, the front window is covered by stacks of books. There’s a table in front of the store, some old books were scattered there, and a sign said that all books on the table could be grabbed – free. Wow.
There are lots of signage and warnings on the front door, saying things like “no phone allowed, this is a bookstore not a phone booth”, or “please leave all bags at desk, backpacks can smack people and books”. Very intriguing.
Entering the store, I felt like going into a different world altogether. The smell of old books, combined with old wooden odor, made me feel I’m entering a bookworm heaven. High bookshelves crowded the room, only a small alley separated one bookshelf with another. And true, backpacks will be very inconvenient here! Even without having backpack with me, I accidentally knocked down some stacks of books, and had to rearrange them by myself.
There are signs everywhere in the room, handwritten papers explaining the locations of books, some of them pretty mysterious. For example, in the children’s section, there’s a paper said “Roald Dahl books: 2nd floor, Fiction, D section”. But true enough, when I went to the 2nd floor, I found the Roald Dahl books among the fiction books from writers whose last names begin with D.
The labyrinthine layout is an adventure by itself, just expect the unexpected and you will find hidden treasures in the most unlikely places. Even in the bathroom, there are stacks of books everywhere 🙂
I found some great books in this bookstore, a few of them have been in my wishlist for a long time. The price of the books are not expensive too, around $4 -$8 for secondhand novels. Some titles have different cover options, from paperbacks to hardcovers, so suit yourself 🙂
In the basement (the stairs leading to it is a bit creepy, so I kinda just looked from above LOL) you can find titles for horror books and darker stories (very suitable with the setting).
Another unique thing about Capitol Hill Books is the owner, an old guy, very peculiar, he’s started the store with only 200 books but now has a very large collections indeed. He hates people (younger people I suspect) who are very mainstream and he forbids customers to say particular words like “amazon”, “Kindle”, “oh my God!”, “like…”, “you know…” and I even heard him scowled to a teenage girl who kept saying “Awesome!”. It’s like you are entering an different realm, stuck in the olden days. I love it 🙂 But don’t worry, he’s pretty nice with people in general, he lets customers to sit anywhere to read, even though there’s almost no space left to do that 😀
Capitol Hill Books is a must visit place whenever you are in DC. This is the kind of place that makes me grateful to be a bookworm and proud of being one 🙂
Capitol Hill Books
657 C Street SE
Washington, DC 20003