DC Places: Capitol Hill Books
With the craziness of the world right now, I’m thinking a lot about all my favourite local businesses and the places that make DC somewhere I love, feel at home, and never want to leave. It’s almost eight years since my first visit to Capitol Hill Books, back when it was owned by the legendarily curmudgeony Jim, and when it was the only bookstore in the neighbourhood. Little did I know I would one day work down the street at East City Bookshop.
(I am missing my shifts there so much. PSA: we are still, for the moment at least, doing curbside pickups, delivery on Capitol Hill, and reduced-price shipping. We’d really appreciate your support for all your bookish needs!)
As for Capitol Hill Books, you can currently book the store for an hour of browsing by yourself or with up to three other people. Something it sounds like eight-years-ago me would have truly appreciated!
Around the corner from Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market is another DC institution: Capitol Hill Books. If you think the window gives the impression of a somewhat packed, somewhat ramshackle bookshop, you’d be right. The ground floor is the non-fiction section, and you can forget about swinging any cats in there — particularly on a finally-not-hot-anymore Sunday afternoon when local residents venture out to wander round the market and pop in to browse the large selection of political books. To my great delight, I even found this:
… and seriously considered buying it, until I saw it was $12, which is a lot for a book that I will probably — let’s face it — never read. I might still be tempted though, particularly because it’s not impossible that Josh and Donna live on Capitol Hill, so it could actually be their copy: perhaps Donna has finally convinced Josh to make space on their shelves for parenting books and the like. Although doubtless if it were, it would have their names in it. Anyway. Ahem.
Upstairs was distinctly less crowded, and I was getting fed up with saying “sorry” to everyone as I squeezed past them, so it was a bit of a relief to escape to there. And there are thousands and thousands of books up there, and yes, it’s ramshackle (a word that bears repeating in this case), but it is also organised, in its own way: thematically and in alphabetical order. If I hadn’t felt the Sunday afternoon slump kicking in, and if I weren’t worried about accidentally spending lots of money on books I would never read, I could easily have spent hours up there. As for downstairs, it’s best left for a day when all the Hill staffers will be in their offices, hard at work putting into practice the theory in the books.
Originally published at http://claireindc.wordpress.com on September 18, 2012.