Saturday, September 12, 2015


Browsing through books on my day off might strike you as a busman's holiday. I work as a bookseller three days a week - and other days I'm often running book groups in a local library.  Nevertheless there can be few places quite so odd or worth checking out as the bookshop I'm about to describe.   We went there today - and have been twice before.  It's on the road to the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean.

It's very poorly marked. In fact, unless you are already on the road to this bookstore, you don't know you're headed there -  because you are actually on the road to CIA Headquarters.

On one side of the winding road is a wood, shrouded in vines.  On the other side is chain link fence topped with razor wire - and at a distance, the CIA.

Soon you will be veering to the left, towards the Claude Moore Colonial Farm.  On the right is a CIA checkpoint.

Finally, right at the end, you'll see an abandoned nursery with an ancient greenhouse and various pallets of dead plants. 
Last time there was a sign: plant sale. But the potted plants were dead.

Today when Ben and I went there, they were having an 'estate sale' in a building adjoining this nursery.  Apart from a rack of hideous garments in the hallway, there was a shelf of old toys and board games, some shelves of dusty plates, knickknacks and a table of costume jewelry.  There were also an inordinate number of women, ostensibly providing customer service.

We didn't linger.

The bookshop is to the right of the nursery, in what looks like a small barn.  
I kid you not.  But open the doors!
 It's like Dr Who's TARTIS.  You open the doors of this tiny building, and step into another dimension. How is it possible that the rooms are so expansive? One leads to another, and another, each one crammed from floor to ceiling with rare and second hand books. They also have a large selection of LPs.

one of the many rooms
In August we spoke to the owner, who told us this store had once been next to Greenberry's coffeehouse in Mclean.  Yes, we remembered it, and had been sad when it became a Pink Pony.

But the Claude Moore farm website suggests otherwise. It says the bookshop is comprised of 100% donations and  that all proceeds go to maintaining the farm.  I have no idea how they make money, though, since they are all but giving books away. In August, we came away with an enormous haul for $5.00. And today, almost a month later, that sale - $5 for all the books you can fit in a bag- is still on!
I got all this for 5 bucks.

As you can see, the books are good! Today, there was also a motley assortment of wicker furniture and old lamps under a tarp behind the bookshop.  It was raining.  No one was on hand to help, but a sign said if I didn't like the price, I should feel free to negotiate.

What is this place and why is it here? Your guess is as good as mine!

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