FIELD TRIP: How to Go on a DC Indie Bookstore Crawl

A plucky band of 730DC book lovers took on DC’s first annual bookstore crawl…and lived to tell the tale.

Nina Kanakarajavelu


In honor of D.C.’s first annual book crawl on April 27th, we took a rowdy gang of over a dozen 730DC readers on an ambitious tour of ten of D.C.’s finest indie reading establishments. It was a day of book nerdery, camaraderie, and deep discussions on the Circulator. This is our story.

The Route

● Politics and Prose (NoMa)

● Solid State Books

● Kramerbooks

● Bridge Street Books

● East City Books

● Capitol Hill Books

● Potters House

● Busboys & Poets (14th Street location)

● Wall of Books

● Loyalty Books

The Plan

Visit each of the participating bookstores on the list, moving at a somewhat brisk pace — staying long enough to take in the unique ambiance of each store and peruse the goods, but not, you know, posting up in a corner with Finnegan’s Wake. Our journey would begin at the Politics and Prose in NoMa and conclude at the last stop with celebratory drinks and, lord willing, one of the free Independent Bookstore Day tote bags promised to all those who made it to the end.

Standard disclaimer: Please note all field trip participants were free to leave at any time and we traversed the route with a mix of walking, public transportation, and ride shares. I repeat, this was not a death march.

Notes from the field:

● Captain’s log: It’s 10AM and our group is the first in the door at the Politics and Prose in NoMa. We quickly make our presence known by cleaning out the poor owner’s supply of IBD book crawl maps.

● Many of the bookstore proprietors seemed pleasantly surprised at the number of people participating in the D.C. book crawl.

Smart, Kramers. Very smart.

Kramers was very prepared for the book-loving masses. We’re talking two-different-kinds-of-pop tart-selections levels of preparedness.

● The notorious RBG was a ubiquitous presence at all the stores — books, merch, wall hangings, you name it

Wall of Books has a definite appreciation for the works of Janet Evanovich and John Grisham

● The crowd favorite was Solid State Books with its clever “blind date” book cart which invites readers to take a gamble and make a selection based on the staff’s whimsical three-word plot descriptors — ( Hitler. boy assassin. WWII). How could you go wrong?

The things we carried

A semi-exhaustive eclectic list of books our merry band of readers picked up along the way:

● Chimamanda Adichie — Americanah, We Should All be Feminists

● Zadie Smith — White Teeth

● Liane Moriarty — Big Little Lies

● Celeste Ng — Little Fires Everywhere

● Michelle Obama — Becoming

● Philip Roth — Deception

● Rebecca Solnit — Call them By Their True Names

● Samantha Schoech — What to Eat with What You Read

● Yaa Gyasi — Homegoing

● Richard Rothstein — The Color of Law

● Asch & Musgrove — Chocolate City

● Edmund White — Flaneur

● Dan Harris — Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

● Ariel Levy — The Rules Do Not Apply

● Jasper Fforde — The Well of Lost Plots, Thursday Next, and Something Rotten

On the road.

The real tote bag was the friendships we made along the way

Although this writer sadly succumbed to book crawl induced fatigue after only four stops, a handful soldiered through to the bitter end. …And no, these pure souls did not do it all for the elusive free tote bag (as borne out by our highly scientific survey data!):

Thus concludes 730DC’s inaugural field trip. If you feel like you missed out, never fear, we’re planning to do more. So give us your ideas, it might become a future 730DC outing!