A Trip to my Childhood Bookstore

I never come on a visit to my childhood home of Washington, DC without making a (consistently very indulgent and biblioholic) visit to our neighborhood bookstore, Politics and Prose. The bookstore has been in this neighborhood for as long as my family has (i.e. decades), and I can't (not even one time) resist the remainder section sandwiched between the children's nook and the coffee-shop in the basement. So here is my haul from yesterday, when my mother and I left for what we claimed was a healthy, long walk, and I returned with two huge bags of books:

Apologies for the imprecise focus on this first picture - my camera's autofocus is staging a small-scale rebellion. Here's what I have here:

  • Platform by Michel Houellebecq, which is on my list of 1001 books I must read before I die.
  • Mountain Time by Ivan Doig, whose work was recommended highly in a recent issue of Bookmarks
  • Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem, whose Men and Cartoons I recently read and disliked. Lethem fans on LibraryThing, however, convinced me that I had not chosen the most appropriate starting point.
  • The Caged Virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. After fleeing an arranged marriage in Somalia, Ali became Theo van Gogh's collaborator on the film that led to his assassination and was later elected to the Dutch parliament. She is an eloquent (if controversial) figure, and I have been eager to take a gander at this book since I first heard her speak about it on various radio programs.
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire, which almost everyone else in the world besides me seems to have read already
  • The Stories of Alice Adams
  • The Heart of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr



  • After the Fall by Arthur Miller, the premier production of which my mother actually saw. The only time I ever saw the play I was swaying gently in the lighting booth and running a 103 degree fever. So perhaps it is time for another encounter.
  • Ibsen: The Complete Major Prose Plays - a lot of equivocation that comes after the bold word "complete" in this title, but this is a book I have long felt the absence of on my shelf.
  • The Marquis de Sade: A Very Short Introduction by John Phillips, because a fictional version of the Marquis himself makes a prominent appearance in my dissertation
  • Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement by Fergus M. Bordewich
  • Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra
  • The Golden Bowl by Henry James, a novel so dense that my friends and I inserted it into our favorite board game: if you drew the "Heckling Henry" card, you became so engrossed in reading a single sentence of The Golden Bowl that you missed your next two turns.
  • Two Lives by Vikram Seth - To date, the only Seth I have read is (oddly enough) The Golden Gate, his long verse novel. Two Lives was very well received, so it will go on my list of other Vikram Seth books I am desperate to read but are too heavy to transport away from my parents' house.
  • Plato's Symposium
  • The Cross and the Crescent: Christianity and Islam from Mohommed to the Reformation by Richard Fletcher

3 Responses so far.

  1. I love that book store!! I go to Politics & Prose almost every time I am in DC. Looks like you came away with some great books!

  2. kookiejar says:

    Good for you!

    I've been meaning to read "Two Lives".

    I like the cover of your copy of "Wicked" better than mine.

    I read Ivan Doig's "Whistling Season" earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so I'll be reading more of him.

  3. Isn't it wonderful, nyssaneala? I have spent a lot of hours and dollars there over the years, but it is good to know that my addiction is supporting such a cultural powerhouse for my neighborhood.

    I am glad to hear you recommend Ivan Doig, kookiejar. His is not necessarily a subject matter that I would usually be drawn to, but he has come so highly recommended from so many different sources that I need to give him a try!

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