I landed at Folger Shakespeare Library first, where I was met by a docent at the door who asked, "Are you here for the tour or the exhibit?" Naturally, I said, "Can I do both?" and she agreed that that was a terrific idea.
The exhibit at the moment holds various folios have have travelled around the US during 2016 so that folks across the country could have a look at some of the Folger collection, which was pretty cool, but no matter how amazing the exhibit is, it can't hold a candle to the Folger tour. (Not that candles are allowed. That would be dangerous with all the old books.)
If you're even a little bit interested in theatre or Shakespeare, and you think you may ever visit D.C., put the Folger Library on your list and be sure to take the tour. The docents are incredibly knowledgeable, anxious to answer as many questions as possible, and just all-round fun, as you can imagine from people who spend their professional lives around Shakespeare's words. (Their social media team is also fantastic & worth a follow.) Whether you can visit the library or not, the Folger editions of Shakespeare's plays are helpfully annotated and good choices for reading/homeschooling/keeping on your shelf/etc. Although if you're teaching your kids Shakespeare, please please PLEASE be sure to see the plays onstage, too. That's how they're meant to be experienced!
It's possible I may have been humming "God, I Hate Shakespeare" from Something Rotten through the whole tour. Maybe. It could have been someone else.
|Top row: theatre inside the library, Hamlet, Puck, Romeo and Juliet.|
I was there for the final week of the "America Reads" exhibit, which showcases American authors who've shaped the country with their work. Obviously, that's a pretty wide range of folks, so it's probably just as well that I wasn't responsible for deciding which authors and books were included. God bless librarians who are capable of making those kinds of tough choices.
|L to R, top row first: Christmas tree; Jefferson Library; stairs to the reading room;|
Jefferson Library entrance; two of the many quotes near the ceiling;
building front; one of many pretty parts of the ceiling.
While I have a running list of favourite bookstores on the planet*, my real favourite is usually whichever one I'm standing in. And Politics and Prose is delightful. First of all, I'm fairly convinced they use a Charles Rennie Mackintosh font, although I've not been able to find confirmation on this so far (but it sure looks like it).
It's a beautiful store, with lots of friendly staff and happy (at least when I was there) patrons. And a fantastic cafe downstairs. While I of course want you to visit, I'm a book person. I just want you to go to whatever bookstore, or library, or provider of books is near you. No airplanes required.
|I own three copies of Les Misérables and don't need a fourth,|
so I settled for taking a pic of this gorgeous, amazing cover.
Just looking at it again makes me sad I left it behind.
What I didn't leave behind: This beautiful picture created out of the early chapters
of The Secret Garden. And since I was in D.C. to see Secret Garden onstage,
it wasn't a hard decision.
*In approximate order of current love: BookPeople, Austin; Strand Books, New York; Bookmamas, Indianapolis; Caledonian Books, Glasgow; Hester Books, Lubbock; Booksellers, Cincinnati; Books & Brews, Indianapolis. Politics and Prose will have to fit in there somewhere.