Calling all book snobs! As the most literate city in the nation, D.C. is home to many a book nerd. Whether you’re reading Proust on your iPad or enjoying a guilty-pleasure read in Lafayette Park, you know you're in good company, around here. After all, even President Obama publicizes his summer reading list. (We can’t wait to see what he’ll pick this year — think he’s a Hunger Games fan?) So, whether you’re looking for a light beach read or an extra-intellectual thousand-page tome (cough, Infinite Jest, cough) to tote around this summer, try checking out one of these independent bookstores in the DMV for hand-picked selections and rare gems. Who knows, you just might stumble across the next big thing. Kramerbooks & Afterwords
Situated on the north side of Dupont Circle, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café and Grill has been a favorite D.C. hangout since it opened in 1976. “Kramer's,” as Washingtonians call it, is all that and a bag of chips — literally. Part bookstore, part restaurant, part bar, it’s a bona fide triple threat. Whether you’re looking to browse the staff's handpicked book selections, indulge in a hearty brunch, have a cocktail, or all of the above, Kramer’s is the place to go — and they're open late.
Where: 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW; 202) 387-3825.
Politics and Prose
Another longstanding D.C. institution, Politics and Prose has been in business since 1984, gracefully surviving administration changes, a new location, and a change of ownership. But all of that did nothing to impede this Chevy Chase bookstore from meeting its goal of offering “superior service and unusual book choices.” A café in the basement and an impressively booked calendar of events (expect Rachel Maddow and Madeline Albright later this month) help push Politics and Prose toward perfection. Bonus: They’ve got a self-publishing service for authors looking to take matters into their own hands.
Where: 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW; 202-364-1919.
Busboys and Poets
In 2005, non-profit organization Teaching for Change partnered with restaurant Busboys and Poets to create a unique mini-bookstore environment inside the U Street-area venue. Top non-fiction, poetry, and global-themed titles line the shelves here; the intention is to broaden minds and inspire community engagement. This is definitely a place to try if reading whets your appetite, since the menu is packed with delish dishes.
Where: 2021 14th Street NW; 202-387-7638.
We all know what they say about judging a book by its cover — don’t. Same goes for Book Bank, a hidden gem in Old Town. If you look past the dusty window display and head into this quaint used bookstore, you’ll find an impressive collection of over 25,000 titles.
Where: 1510 King Street, Alexandria; 703-838-3620.
One More Page Books
Hold the phone — a bookstore that offers a fabulous selection of books and wine and chocolate tastings? We might have found heaven on earth. In addition to the gourmet treats, One More Page hosts an array of events and even has a store dog, Sandy the Weimaraner.
Where: 2200 North Westmoreland Street, Suite 101, Arlington; 703-300-9746.
Second Story Books
With locations in Dupont Circle and Rockville, Second Story Books is a great resource for used and rare books. Since the current owner took over in 1973, the shop has blossomed from its local roots to become one of the largest used and rare book collections in the world. At the Dupont location, you can leaf through the selection of books outside the shop on sunny days; in Rockville, take your time browsing the vast warehouse for lost treasures. Oh, and don't worry: Both locations are on the Red Line.
Where: 2000 P Street NW; 202-659-8884; 12160 Parklawn Drive, Rockville; 301-770-0477.
Photos: Via Kramerbooks; Busboys and Poets; Politics and Prose