Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Books stoke the fires of our imagination and carry us to far-away places. They fill our minds with bold, lovable and eccentric characters that make us root, shout and feel. There’s something equally inviting about the character and feel of small, local bookstores that create the perfect atmosphere for delving into a good book and drifting away to another world. These specialty bookstores are perfect spots to find that one title you’ve been searching for and to settle in for a fun ride, or to find a book that champions your cause, attend a celebrity book signing or simply enjoy the look, smell and feel of a good book.

Capitol Hill Books
657 C St. S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 544-1621

This cozy haunt nestled in DC’s historic Capitol Hill is the perfect getaway for a day surrounded by books. Every nook and cranny of the two-floor bookstore is filled with quality used books, first editions and rare, hard-to-find titles. Open on weekdays and weekends (with a few exceptions), the store has cleverly conceived rooms dedicated to specific genres and categories, like cultural biographies located in a “Cultural Closet” and cookbooks that line a kitchen sink. This charming store is full of personality and is sure to have that rare book that you’ve been searching for. Bill Kerr, the original owner of the bookstore, opened the doors in 1991, and it was sold in 1994 due to an untimely death. To this day, people still remember Kerr, who was an advocate for helping people live a productive life, giving customers even more of a reason to head down to the store and see the great selection it has.

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Busboys and Poets Books
2021 14th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 387-7638

Founded in 2005 by Iraqi-American artist and restaurateur Anas “Andy” Shallal, this independent, community bookstore is a unique meeting spot that aims to create an engaging atmosphere for discussions on literature, politics, society and social justice. There’s no better way to pursue that mission than through the use of books. The store specializes in supporting works by minority and local authors, and shines a light on the plight of the dispossessed and marginalized. The wonderful thing about Busboys and Poets Books is that it also holds quite a few events to help keep reading alive and continue the traditions like film festivals and spoken word contests open to the public to spark interest in the arts.

Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 364-1919

This one-of-a-kind establishment is a landmark in the DC Metro region and a literary hub for writers, readers and celebrities alike. Personalities like TV host and entertainer Stephen Colbert, essayist and Booker Prize-winner Salman Rushdie and Miami Heat point guard Dwyane Wade are just a few celebrities to recently visit the popular spot. Nearly 30 years ago, Politics & Prose was formed as the brainchild of founders Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade. With only one part-time employee, the bookstore with humble beginnings gradually gained momentum as it served the literary needs of the community. Today, with over 50 employees and nearly 14,000 square feet of business and office space, including a cafe, the bustling bookstore is showing no signs of slowing down. Its new owners, former Washington Post journalists Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine, are a husband-and-wife duo who purchased the establishment in 2011.

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Kevin Don Porter is the author of MISSING — a mystery novel available May 7, 2013. Visit his website at