10 Storied Bookshops

  • April 1, 2019

When it comes to indies, DC punches way above its weight.


Mental Floss recently published its list of the “Best Bookstores in All Fifty States,” according well-deserved recognition to some outstanding DC-region shops while failing to recognize that the District of Columbia is not only part of the United States, but also has some bitching bookstores.

What are we, chopped liver?

In Maryland, Second Story Books of Rockville took top honors even though its inventory in its airplane-hangar-sized location consists solely of used and antiquarian books. Mental Floss didn’t even mention the free appraisals offered in the lower level on Saturday mornings, where Allan Stypeck’s off-the-cuff evaluations of old books draw a crowd every week: Think a literary “Antiques Roadshow,” but way smarter. Best show in town for book nerds.

For Virginia, Arlington’s One More Page landed as first-runner-up, despite being a mere eight years in operation. Offering a lively event schedule, plus chocolate and wine, the place has swiftly become a go-to destination for area booklovers.

And if you’re going to the beach this summer, don’t forget that Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, won the nod for best bookstore in the First State. First-runner-up Bethany Beach Books is just down the shore.

Now, ahem, for Mental Floss’ appalling omission from its list of the District, capital of the free world and home to one of the planet’s most embarrassing governments…sheesh. DC has more good bookstores than a lot of states, including multiple locations of Busboys and Poets, plus East City Bookshop, Solid State Books, Bridge Street Books, Kramerbooks, MahoganyBooks, Capitol Hill Books, Walls of Books, and Loyalty Books (formerly Upshur Street Books).

But to dethrone the champion, you have to win decisively, so DC’s leading bookshop continues to be Politics and Prose, now operating at three locations and conducting a dazzling series of book talks, interviews, and lectures at its stores and in larger venues around town.

Can you match that, Idaho? New Hampshire? Indiana? Texas?

Didn’t think so.

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