There’s just something about used bookstores.
The crowded shelves, the musk of old paper, the hushed sense of history. It’s something with which big-chain bookstores (such as Catholic University’s Barnes & Noble) and libraries (such as nearby Woodridge Library), just can’t compete.
A used bookstore is like an archaeological dig for bookworms. It’s also, I’d argue, an essential part of any neighborhood.
Which is why, after three years as a proud Brooklander, I still find myself wondering why a good used bookstore hasn’t planted roots somewhere along our streets. Especially when I know there are plenty of readers in this neighborhood. I’ve seen their bookshelves during the House and Garden Tours. I catch them occasionally sitting on neighborhood benches or at bar tables.
When I’ve got that craving for used bookstores, I tend to take myself across town to Second Story Books (in Dupont Circle), Carpe Librum (off Farragut Square), or Walls of Books (east of Columbia Heights).
And when I want to stay local, I stroll past our neighborhood’s Little Free Libraries.
Scattered throughout our streets in cabinets, trains, and even robots, these little huts are like birdhouses for books in need of new readers. They also provide welcome homes for books you’re looking to put up for adoption.
According to the website, there are four registered Little Free Libraries in Brookland. A little amateur detective work uncovered a few more flying under the radar.
On a recent fair-weather Saturday, I took a few books of my own to give away. What I found peering inside these little rooms is a curious window into the reading tastes – or distastes – of some of us here in Brookland.
The best part of these used book huts? They’re all built (or repurposed) and maintained by Brooklanders themselves. Which makes them a touching tribute to the creativity, ingenuity, and community spirit of our neighborhood.
So yes, Brookland could stand to use a fixed used bookstore where readers like me can indulge in our own private searches, our own unexpected discoveries.
In the meantime, these free little libraries our neighbors have built and keep stocked with books offer a different kind of search.
Know another Little Free Library location in Brookland we missed? Let us know in the comments!