Kramer Books & Afterwords
Some things just belong together: peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, books and…booze? Hmm.
When I first heard about a place that combined the two, I knew I had to try it. I imagined the energy of a cute little coffee shop, with customers quietly sipping draft beers while a live guitarist plays in the background. Kramer Books & Afterwords (get it? Afterwords, like words in a book!) was not quite that; it was more like a bookstore with an adjoining hallway into a restaurant, with another adjoining hallway into a bar. It was 11AM on a Wednesday, so there were like two people in the bar, and they were just watching futbol on a flatscreen. In the restaurant part, where I eventually set up camp, there were a few young looking girls sipping on wine and gossiping about their weekend. I ordered a Chocolate Nutella Torta and a coffee, and enjoyed a solid hour of people watching. Kramer Books gets five stars as a people-watching location.
When I take my book somewhere, I spend about 80% of my concentration looking cute and bookish, 10% watching other people read, 5% enjoying the coffee/tea, and 1% actually reading. Whatever percent is left I use to text. Kramer Books was a great spot to eavesdrop on other people and look cute, but nobody else was there to read so I left soon after I finished my food.
It was still early in the day, and I wanted to wander a little bit. I found my way into Books-A-Million, and was immediately impressed at how large their selection was. This place had a whole section dedicated to t-shirts, another dedicated to candles, and a ton of space for books. Lots and lots and lots of books. Another plus: they had Wifi and a small sitting area by the coffee shop with plenty of outlets. I love hanging around a bookstore all day, and for that, an outlet is a must.
Book selection here was huge. The problem was that they had too much of everything else–there were huge displays of electronic accessories, Big Bang Theory merchandise, keychains, calendars, etc., etc. I still hadn’t found my reading safe-haven. I need plush chairs, a low hum of constant noise, and books!
This might be a good spot to plug in something that my mom asked me to throw in: as a kid, I loved to read. I read ALL the time, and my parents did whatever they could to feed my voracious appetite for more, more, MORE books. Sometimes, as a mother-daughter activity, my mom and I would go to a coffee shop with our respective books, order a drink (coffee for her,cider for me), and just read. I called it “Dream Tea”. Not sure where that name came from, but right now in my life, I am looking for a place to have a nice Dream Tea. Books-a-Million was a great bookstore, but unfortunately, it was not the Dream Tea Spot I was searching for. I poked around for a bit, charged my phone, and moved on.
Rock Creek Park
I walked and walked around Dupont Circle, and actually passed a few bookstores. None of them looked cozy enough for my liking, and somehow, I ended up at Rock Creek Park. I heard a stream bubbling, and got SO excited–that’s not a sound you hear very often in D.C. A little trail took me to a stream, but unfortunately, there was no place to sit. There was a little wall by the stream that I sat on for a while, but it’s like it was purposely designed to be uncomfortable. Also, there was a really strong smell in the area that made me think that it was at some point someone’s master bathroom. A good place for selfies, but not for reading.
I hate to say it, but the best place to read in Dupont Circle turned out to be the two-story Starbucks a few blocks from the Metro. This place had everything: outlets, calming music, plenty of interesting people to watch, and of course, coffee! I was really hoping to find a little hole-in-the-wall place and be a true hipster, but it just didn’t turn out that way.
I’m a little disappointed in myself that I ended up loving the “boring” choice, but as my boyfriend would say, it’s just classic. At every Italian restaurant, he’ll order spaghetti and meatballs, no matter what other amazing things are on the menu. He doesn’t want to try the pesto, he doesn’t want the alfredo, he doesn’t want all of that “fancy stuff”. I guess at the end of the day, I’m a spaghetti and meatballs kinda girl after all.