Capitol Hill Books: An afternoon in a quirky book shop with a sense of humor and free beer

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Two weeks ago on an extremely cold but sunny Sunday afternoon. A friend and I were slugging our way back to the metro station after seeing the last vestiges of Eastern Market in D.C. As we were turning to leave the market — I spotted a local bookstore my friend had mentioned wanting to check out. Upon entering, a grumpy looking old man in a worn baseball cap yelled at us to shut the door behind us. Then in the same breath informed us that there was home brewed beer in the back yard.

This, Ladies and Gents, was our first introduction to Capitol Hill Books.

Amused and a little disconcerted — we took in our surroundings. The bookstore was literally in a row house and it looks as though a hoarder of used books has filled it with every volume imaginable. Complete with three floors (basement, ground floor and upstairs) — the place was entirely cluttered and disorganized with large hulking book shelves filling every nook and cranny of the building. If there wasn’t space for a shelf to fit then there would be a pile of books stacked high. No part of the shop was safe from the onslaught of books. Even the bathroom had a whole genre of books in it — French poetry or theatre, I believe.

As we made our way slowly around the cramped shop (trying not to bump into people or shelves) we started to notice the signs for some book titles. On a copy of The Little Prince was a little note over it that said “The story of a young Vladmir Putin, the self-appointed prince of Russia.” When walking over towards the coffee table book section a handwritten sign on the shelf informed us they were great for “emergency kindling, step-stools, intellectual peacocking.”

As we made our way to the back of the shop — there was sure enough a door leading to a back yard. As promised, there were two kegs of home brewed beer with several people already filling up their plastic solo cups. A coffee porter and cherry ale.

By the time we left (45-minutes later) the shop had begun to get crowded. We made our way to check out with four used books between us (including the earlier mentioned copy of The Little Prince) and having consumed four cups of the coffee porter (which was delicious).

Capitol Hill Books as I came to find out, is a known D.C. gem and it’s no wonder why.  In spite of how easy it is to order books online these days or go to a Barnes & Noble — there is something special about a quirky book shop. Capitol hill Books offers tons of personality. It’s not a place to go searching for a specific book but rather a place to discover a new one.

If you’re in D.C. and love bookstores — check out Capitol Hill Books. But, claustrophobics beware — it’s a tight squeeze!

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Another Move, Another City!

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Nomad – a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.

At the age of ten — after my first re-location from Japan to the U.S. — I had this unnerving feeling to “move”. At the time, I attributed this to my extreme homesickness for my birth place. Perhaps that was a big part of it. But, as I grew older I realized it wasn’t so much a need to go back to Japan but to just go….anywhere. Itchy feet, the travel bug, wanderlust…there are many names for it. Either way, I knew early on that settling down in one place was not for me. Today, at 27 I can happily say that I have succeeded (so far) in being a bit of a nomad.

In the last ten years I have managed to live in six cities on either side of the ocean. Now, I am thrilled to say I have moved yet again. Washington D.C. will be my current place of residence — at least for a little while.

I still have some posts on the back burner that I have been meaning to write about my beloved Pacific Northwest and I will finish those up in due time. At the moment, I am busy dealing with the stresses of starting a new job in the next couple of days, finding a place of residence and getting accustomed to my new surroundings. This is my first time living on the east coast and so far I love the fast pace of D.C., the diversity and of course the history!

As I begin this new chapter of my life, I reflect on a few things I have learned. As we get older, it’s very easy to lose sight of what we actually want in life. We often settle for the jobs that pay well enough but don’t inspire or challenge us. We get too focused on making decisions that are safe as opposed to choices that will make us happy.

Life is too short to just be comfortable. When it comes to getting what you want — sometimes you have to take a leap.

A City of Monuments — Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is a place filled with history and culture. There are so many museums and monuments that it’s impossible to see even half of it on a four day trip. So far my favorite places to visit  are the International Spy Museum and the Library of Congress. However, I have a whole bucket list of things I still need to do in D.C. — including visit the Newseum!