Saturday, December 9, 2017

Carpe Librum Is Closing

Carpe Librum, on 17th Street NW between K and L Streets, will close on December 21.  The building where it now is will be torn down or at least renovated. I believe that it was only the prospect of this that made it impossible for the landlords to find paying tenants and so induced them to give away the space to Carpe Librum. It had a good four-year run here. Before 2013, it was a "pop-up", and a week was a good run for it.

Until it closes, the prices are halved: a hardbound volume or trade paperback goes for $2.00. If you can get to 17th and L Streets, you might find something you want for ridiculously little money. And that little money will go to a good cause, Turning the Page, an organization that promotes the engagement of parents in their children's education.

During these four years, it has served as a fine place to browse at lunchtime or after work, and the $4 maximum price has encouraged me to buy quite a few books, in quite a few categories:
  1. Diaries: of Evelyn Waugh and of Count Harry Kessler.
  2. Dictionaries: of French, Italian, and German, the first two fat and the last skinny; and dual-language dictionaries of English and each of French, German, Latin, and Spanish.
  3. Essays: on education by Diane Ravitch, on literature by Henry James.
  4. Histories: Die Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit by Egon Friedell.
  5. Memoirs or autobiographies: of Anthony Burgess, August Fruge, Henry James, George Kennan, Wright Morris (both Will's Boy and A Cloak of Light, the latter twice), and Wilfrid Sheed.
  6. Novels: by Benjamin Constant, James Fenimore Cooper, Michael Frayn, Henry James and Dawn Powell
Those are the books that I remember. No doubt there were others.

I would not be surprised to see Carpe Librum reappear in May in one of the open spaces at George Washington University. I hope that they will come back, and hope that they will find another space to use for a long stay.

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