Politics & Prose: Revisiting First Impressions

This month for Indie Thursday, I’ll be writing about DC’s iconic bookstore Politics & Prose. For my first installment, I’m updating my first impressions of the store from almost exactly three years ago.

Politics and Prose has no small claim to bookselling fame; it is one of the most successful independent bookstores in the country. The store is perhaps best known for its author events, which attract legions of famous writers and large crowds.

In early 2009, I attended W. Ralph Eubanks‘s reading of his second book, The House at the End of the Road. Eubanks is a favorite local author of mine; his first book, Ever Is a Long Time, was the first book I reviewed on this site. As always, it was a great event that had me wishing I schlepped out there more often.

Though there was no section on local authors back in 2009, the staff person assisting me rattled off the names of several local authors in stock from memory, which almost made up for the lack. I browsed countless titles, noticing local big-hitters like Edward P. Jones and George Pelecanos next to now-favorites like Dinaw Mengestu and Carolyn Parkhurst.

Since then, the new owners have added an entire section devoted to local books and authors that pulls me in like a siren’s song every time I drive along Connecticut Ave.

Politics & Prose is larger inside than its outside appearance lets on, with warrens of rooms devoted to literature and a downstairs room devoted to children’s books, sale books, and a small coffeeshop. I’m still amazed at how many titles they manage to fit in one store; each visit is like walking through the modest doors of the Leaky Cauldron and seeing a bustling Diagon Alley within.

Though the distance is still prohibitive (the nearest metro stop is Van Ness, and parking is always tight in this neighborhood), Politics & Prose is a pleasant stop with its friendly staff, frequent author visits, and good selection of good books… What more could I ask for?

Stay tuned for more updates about Politics & Prose this month, including coverage of its print-on-demand program; upcoming author events; and new ideas from its new(ish) owners.

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