Friday, June 22, 2007

"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

I visited the Library of Congress when we were in Washington, DC. What a thrill. "Just think, I've downloaded your records for years and now here I am."

NOTHING prepared me for the beauty of that space. I was stunned and stupefied at the color, themes and unyielding marble surfaces. (I think my feet and legs suffered more from that visit than any other trek on our visit.)

Book shopping in DC
The entling ran out of reading material early on so we visited the very nice B. Dalton in Union Station when we passed through to get her a quick reading refill.

Whenever there was a lull in the action, "OMG, I cannot take another step!" (My level of physical fitness makes a couch potato look like an Olympic athlete) the entling would happily whip out her book while I recovered.

The estimable Sprite Writes also alerted us to Politics and Prose. We rode the bus to the shop and spent a wonderful hour-plus, roaming the store. The children's books are downstairs. The lovely lady helping folks absolutely knew her stuff. I should have found out her name. While I was there, a mother and daughter, with a basket, were buying summer reading. Don't you just love to see parents just piling up the volumes to purchase? The girl was a going to be in 5th grade next year. I am afraid I spent some time saying, "Oooh, have you read THIS?" They added several of my enthusiasms to their pile, including Maude March. I cannot seem to stop telling people about Maude.

One of the most entertaining places to find books was The Spy Museum. This family spent over three hours there. The museum is a brilliant mix of video, audio, artifacts and storytelling. The crowd was so dense at first that I was afraid I was going to hate it but eventually people rushed on and left us to meander through the exhibits.

The gift shop is as entertaining as the museum itself and had one of the best selections of children's books I had seen on our trip. Of course they all had to do with spies or spying. There was Alex Rider, Jimmy Coates, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Young James Bond, Harriet the Spy, and Christopher Paul Curtis's Mr. Chickee. There were even more that I cannot recall now but I was amazed at the imagination and knowledge of the buyer. The book choices were spot on for the theme.


Lisa said...

When I went to DC I told everyone I could get to listen how beautiful the Library of Congress was. All those themes of things, I couldn't think of anything that was left out. I bought the book about it I loved it so much.

(My favorite of all was the Holocaust Memorial, it was so well done.)

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you got up to P&P. Apparently, several years ago there was a children's bookstore nearby that couldn't stay afloat and when they went under the P&P owners invited them to come and run the kid section of their store.

I'm ashamed to say that after 4+ years here, I still haven't visited the LOC. It's one of my biggest shames.

tanita✿davis said...

I'm just claiming myself as an honorary entling, man. You and your kids have such cool adventures.

Anonymous said...

We also loved the Spy Museum when we visited D.C. with the entire extended family several years ago. It didn't sound like my cup of tea, but all the nephews (of which there are tons) and sons decided it would be cool, so we did some negotiating. (You know, "OK, one hour in the Spy Museum for one hour in the Botanical Gardens" kind of thing.) I was scared of the crowds too, especially when you go up in that fancy elevator, but so many people rushed through and then we all took our time reading and watching and listening. VERY hands on and interactive, great for pre-teen and teen-age boys!

Anonymous said...

How great the Library of Congress sounds. Reminds of how surprised I was that I loved the Smithsonian years ago, when I was in my twenties and too cool for tourist traps. Sad to say, it's been years since I was in DC. You've whetted my appetite for so much of the city all over again, however. I thank you for that.