Although we're pretty happy to not be living in the Holy Roman Empire (we hear the Middle Ages were not all that), we can't help but think how great it'd have been to be a plague-having flea on the wall when German Johannes Gutenberg first invented the printing press in 1440. In fact, next to the invention of language, we're pretty sure the printing press was the greatest advancement in communication ever. And thus, books for the masses were invented. And while our new digital world has shrunk the novel from the ultimate source of entertainment to something that (perhaps, sadly) often comes second to finishing this impossible level on Angry Birds, the variety of secondhand bookstores in DC has certainly made keeping up a more voracious reading habit a lot easier on the pocketbook. Here are five secondhand shops that make us want to read all about it:
Books for America (1417 22nd St., NW)
Although it doesn't offer much in terms of atmosphere, this straightforward shop due east of Dupont Circle is a great stop to find a huge variety of gently used books. Most impressively, if you're into art, this shop has a regular influx of big name auction catalogs that are donated each month from a local art dealer. HOURS: Monday, Friday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday - Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Idle Time Books (2467 18th St., NW)
This Adams Morgan shop has become known for the rolling rack of super discounted books it keeps on the street. But don't stop there. That may be the cheapest selection, but the best selection is kept indoors on two glorious floors of well-labeled selections, ranging from literary fiction to LSAT study guides. HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Second Story Books & Antiques (2000 P St., NW)
This little shop is a great way to wind down a workday. Located just a few steps away from Dupont Circle, stop by on the way home to scour the shelves of this shop that's known for its more curated selection of both fiction and nonfiction. In addition, this store also has a sweet selection of posters and prints. HOURS: Every day, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Capitol Hill Books (657 C St., SE)
If you don't find what you're looking for on the shelves of the main room, you may need to head to the bathroom. This shop is so chock full that they shelve books there, as well. Plus, this store has more character than 15 sets of the full Encyclopedia Britannica. Don't miss the little yellow Post-It notes stuck around the store. They offer a little tongue-and-cheek humor that makes this store easy to spend an afternoon in. HOURS: Monday - Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday - Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Lantern (3241 P St., NW)
This Georgetown shop, which is located in a historic rowhouse, is best when you have a little extra time. Why? Because the small upstairs seating area is so cozy and warm, once you sit down and read a few pages, you're never gonna wanna to leave. Plus, the prices here are some of the best in town. HOURS: Wednesday - Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.