Bookstore on Capitol Hill


There is a bookstore on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where the books overflow from the shelves. Stacks of books tower over me, block the windows, and rest on chairs. It’s probably what literary fanatics imagine the afterlife to be. Small note cards are scattered throughout the bookstore, some with descriptions of the various sections, and others with sassy remarks and requests.

The owner of this established bookstore displays a list of “Words Not Spoken Here” at the check-out counter. These are words that should NOT be used when interacting with the owner. These words are overused, dull, and demonstrate limited vocabulary, or simply offend him to his core (claims the owner). Words/phrases you cannot say in this bookstore include: awesome, Amazon, Kindle, perfect, totally, you know, have a good one… And he’ll reprimand you for using these words. He’ll call you out. And since more than one of these phrases is in my “fav five” I stand in the check-out line and give myself a pep talk, repeating ‘Don’t say “have a good one” – Don’t say “have a good one.”‘ But I always return to this bookstore, and I always exit with an arm-full of Hemingway and a huge sigh of relief for saying goodbye with something other than “have a good one!”

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The art section. A small notecard reads:


Contrary to what some of you might think, this section is not, in fact, a collaborative performance piece illustrating the illusion of order and the arrogance of Man’s futile efforts to  maintain it. Therefore we must ask you to please please please for the love of all that is holy PUT THINGS BACK WHERE YOU FOUND THEM.



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