Today’s Spotlight on Bookstores comes to us from Serena Agusto-Cox at Savvy Verse and Wit. Her blog, a regular stop on my daily reading, is ”dedicated to all literary and poetic works” and offers “critiques, reviews, editorial hints, and insights.” She is co-hosting the War Through the Generations reading challenge. Serena is a published poet whose work has appeared in Beginnings Magazine, Muse Apprentice Guild, and Pedestal Magazine, among others. She lives near Washington, DC.
When friends and family come to visit, especially those that have been here numerous times, I’m tasked with locating activities and places to visit that they haven’t been. In the case of Terrie, who has been coming to D.C. off and on for a number of years, it gets more difficult with each year to play her tour guide. Although this presents a hefty challenge for me, she’s pretty open, which makes it easier.
Having no notion that Terrie was taking a class on music, I selected Politics & Prose; 5015 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.). This independent bookstore has been the talk of the town for many years with a number of author signings and events, and I had been eager to check it out myself. Terrie and my brother, Aaron, were going to be my unsuspecting guinea pigs. Politics & Prose is supposed to be off of Van Ness Metro stop, but really there is quite a long walk from the metro to the bookstore. The cold air and whipping wind hit our faces all the way to the bookstore, freezing out noses and fingers, especially for those of us who did not bring gloves or hats.
Don’t let the strip mall storefront fool you. Politics & Prose is quite cozy inside, with rows and rows of books on tabletops, bookshelves lining each wall, and books lining the sides of the stairwell that leads into the children’s section and the small café downstairs. My hands grazed a number of book covers and flipped through a number of pages. This store reminded me so much of Olsson’s Bookstore, which is a now-defunct independent bookseller I frequented many afternoons on lunch break in Bethesda, Md., from its hotel-style, yet comfortable chairs, to its shelf placards with staff recommendations. The store is even the same size the Olsson’s store was in Bethesda; it felt like returning home.
The best attributes of this store is not the location, the postage-stamp sized parking lot, or the small poetry and music sections, but the at-home atmosphere, the helpful staff, and the variety of books in the clearance section. This short visit left me wanting to spend more time in this store, just browsing, sitting, and reading, like many of the patrons we saw. Terrie had a great time checking out the paltry music book section for a good half hour, though she didn’t find what she wanted, Aaron had a great time shadowing us around and searching for Washington, D.C., magnets for our mom. Aaron even found a great book in the children’s section for himself to read; I only hope he takes the time to practice and read it. I selected How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas Foster from the shelves after much debate with myself about three or four different books.
My second trip the Politics & Prose with my husband, Cris, was not as fruitful. We couldn’t get ourselves in gear and missed Christopher Moore’s signing for the Fool. There was no parking by the time we got to the bookstore, but it looked like a great event from the windows as we drove by. The place was quickly filling up. When the weather turns warmer, you can bet I’ll be popping back in this store. And if you’re ever in the neighborhood and need a down moment, this would be the best place to stop in and check out the latest books.