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The Book Revue

Ever since the birth of this blog, I’ve been dying to visit (for probably the billionth time in my life)  and feature The Book Revue in Huntington, New York because I dare say it is one of the most perfect, most precious bookstores in all of New York and it’s one that I continually return to like a little, lost, book-loving puppy finding it’s way back home.

That chair is calling your name.

Why is The Book Revue oh-so-great, you ask? Well, sit back and relax, because there are plenty of reasons that this bookstore will rock off your book socks and I’m prepared to share all of them.

First of all, on top of the fact that their supply of books is seemingly endless, their prices are so exceptional that you can easily purchase a large and hefty stack of books here and walk out the door after paying, sort of feeling like you still robbed the place. My favorite section of the store is the “Remainder” tables because here is where you’ll find piles and piles of classic literary gems marked down at 50-75% off. So that means, you’re getting unused paperbacks anywhere from about three to seven dollars. These discount tables are the main contributing component to the fact that I have more books than I actually know what to do with.

This may come as a shock to you, but I’m not a millionaire. I try to be somewhat frugal, (which is hard to do when it comes to books) but when I pay a visit to The Book Revue, it is extremely rare occurrence if I don’t leave with at least two new books in hand. But most times, it’s like five. Call it excessive, but when the books are this affordable it’s hard not to be glutinous. It’s so hard!

The next best part about The Book Revue, is the infinite amount of places for book-shoppers to sit scattered around the store. You’ll find a place for your bottom around almost every corner you turn. It’s perfect because when you’ve just found that book you’ve been dying to read for months and all you want to do is dig right into it, it’s almost like someone walks up right behind you with a chair at the very same moment and says, “Why here, have a seat.” Alright, obviously that doesn’t happen but I said, “almost,” it’s almost like that, OK? Plus, if you’re into the really quiet and cozy corners of bookstores, head up to The Book Revue’s second floor where there are a bunch of chairs and tables waiting for you on a balcony that overlooks the store. For those who wish to write and read quietly as they revel in a quaint, bookish atmosphere, this snug, secret little corner of the store could not be more ideal.

Buy all of the books!

Maybe you’re thinking all of this just sounds too good to be true, but just wait, because there’s more. Yes, this store gets better because they also have their very own cafe. So go ahead, grab a coffee, a cup of tea, or whatever the heck kind of little snack you want, browse through an excellent and endless selection of books, and once you’ve found your chosen text, sit back and relax for as long as you like because The Book Revue is usually open late. It’s very unlikely that you will ever overstay your welcome here.

Oh and by the way, while your schmoozing in your cozy chair with your latte and a great new book, keep your eyes open for any celebrity sightings because The Book Revue invites plenty of authors to their lovely, little store quite frequently. For example on November 16th, Mr. Regis Philbin will be visiting the store to speak about and sign his new book. Alright, if your not a retired Who Want’s to be a Millionaire fan and Kelly’s Sidekick doesn’t really do it for ya, some past guests have included the likes of Tim Gunn, Sammy Hagar, and Dick Van Dyke. I’m just saying, The Book Revue gets your books signed!

Community!

Conclusions

Is this a good place for reading or writing? Do you even have to ask? I mean, come on, really?

Bonus Points: The whole store. Everything about it gets all of the bonus points. (But one thing I didn’t mention: The fact that it has two Local and Independent Author Tables. Supporting local is where it’s at, y’all!)

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Blogging From: Fresh & Organic

Much unlike my horrid experience, at Caribou Coffee on Monday, my time spent at Fresh & Organic in Ashburn was pleasant and enjoyable. A quiet little cafe tucked away in one of Northern Virginia’s many shopping strips, Fresh & Organic is the a perfectly quaint, locally owned cafe fit for even the most health-conscious, good-food-loving individual.

Organic & Fresh

Admittedly, Fresh & Organic doesn’t necessarily fall directly  into the typical bookish Coffee Shop/ Cafe standard that I’m constantly on the look out for, but honestly, Northern Virginia is sort of lacking in that area. I had debated on whether or not I wanted to spend my last weekend here making yet another trek into D.C., but after recalling my previous frustrations with parking on The Hill, I decided to hunt for something more local. I knew there had to be at least one more suitable place in good old Ashburn. So when I came across Fresh & Organic, I figured as long as they serve coffee (which, they do) they’re good enough for my blog.

When I walked inside I was greeted by a very friendly gentleman, the owner of the shop, who handed me a menu and told me to let him know when I was ready to order. There were two other customers already seated, both of which the owner was on a first name basis with; the first indication that Fresh & Organic would be worth my while. I eventually ordered the Black Bean Burger and then sat down at a table and read while I waited for my food. In stark contrast to the atmosphere at a much more detestable coffee shop earlier in the week, Fresh & Organic proved to have an impeccable taste in music, quietly sharing tunes via a My Morning Jacket Pandora Station. Beck, Led Zeppelin, Wilco? Why yes, sharing this good music with your customers at a reasonable volume is an excellent decision.

Mmmm!

In addition to serving up good music, I can also attest to the fact that Fresh & Organic serves good food. My Black Bean Burger and the organic salad that it came with were both delicious. This was one of the best meals that I have eaten out in a really long time, which I think goes to show that fresh, natural, unprocessed food is the way to go. As I was leaving, the owner said that he hoped I would come back. I told him that I was moving to New York at the end of the week but that I liked my burger and his little cafe so much that I would try to make it back for one more Fresh & Organic meal before my departure.

Conclusions

Is this place good for reading or writing? Most definitely. The environment is relaxed and quiet. Plus there’s good music and good food. It’s a done deal.

Bonus Points: From Fresh & Organic’s Website: “Our recipes combine healthy ingredients in order to provide you with the utmost in taste and nutritional value. We are organic wherever possible and always fresh!…We ardently believe that nature’s simple ingredients are enough… and you won’t need to be a biochemist to pronounce them!” Right on!

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P.S. Get ready to explore New York’s bookstores & Cafe’s! Next time you hear from me, I’ll be blogging from The Big Apple.

Blogging From: Busboys & Poets

What: Coffee Shop/ Restaurant/ Mini-bookstore

Where: Arlington, VA

Ring the bell, sound the alarm! We have a winner! OK, I guess this was never really meant to be a contest, but Busboys and Poets  definitely wins the prize for being the best establishment I have found so far that meets all of the things that I look for when I’m on the hunt for the perfect places conducive to reading and writing in public. Busboys and Poets is an independently owned restaurant and cafe that now has four different locations all around the DC Metro area. It was founded in 2005  by Anas “Andy” Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist, and restaurateur, with the intentions of creating a “community gathering place.” He named the establishment for Langston Hughes, who once worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel prior to gaining recognition as a poet.

Before entering Busboys and Poets, I was expecting it to be a little more bookstore and a little less cafe. However, it happens to be much more of a cafe and restaurant than it is a bookstore. This was not a disappointing turn of events, though. The atmosphere inside was busy and buzzing. If the tables full of people that I noticed in the outside dining area prior to entering weren’t enough of an indication that this was an Arlington hotspot, then the amount of people I found inside certainly was. Customers have the choice of either being seated to a booth, pulling a stool up to the bar, or plopping down at one of the communal tables where you’re welcome to dine, work, write, and read to your heart’s desire.

A picture of my blog, on my blog. So meta.

I set up camp at one of the large communal tables, which was empty when I arrived but eventually became home to other laptop toting, cafe-lovers who came to B&P to get some work done. I’m the kind of person who takes an agonizingly long amount of time to decide on what I’m going to order whenever I’m out to eat, but when a restaurant has a menu as diverse and appetizing as Busboys & Poets’, it will take me three times as long. When I finally decided on what to order, I chose the Harira, which is a flavorful Moroccan bean soup, and it did not disappoint. The cool thing about B&P’s menu is that it has a lot of options to offer and it also specifically points out which dishes are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Their menu also boasts the following:

  • 100% Fair Trade & organic coffees and teas.
  • Organic wine and beer. And Biodynamic wine.
  • Boycotting of Canada’s seal hunt by “no longer purchasing any seafood from Canada.”
  • Primarily sustainable seafood.
  • Grass-fed, free range beef from local Virginia farms.
  • Local, organic field greens from the Engaged Community Offshoots Farm Network.
  • Conservation of water by only serving it upon request.

Show the planet some love.

Aside from providing good food and a great place to work, Busboys & Poets also supports local artists, musicians, and activists by hosting tons of different events like open mic poetry nights, independent film screenings, author readings and book signings, and talent showcases. You’ll also find several paintings by local artists available for purchase decorating many of the B&P walls.

Some art & trinkets in the bookshop section.

The books section of B&P is not what a true bookstore lover would call a “bookstore.” It’s more of a gift-shop-like area where you’ll find some pretty cool gizmos and gadgets that are actually worth buying. Of course, for all intents and purposes you can rightfully call it a bookstore since there were four or five shelves filled with a good deal of really great reads.

I spy Howard Zinn.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for reading or writing? 100% yes. This place was made for people like me who tote their laptops and books around with them everywhere they go. This is the type of place that public Internet users live for. Good food, good service, and good books. There’s not much more you can ask for.

Bonus points: Busboys and Poets is a proud member of DC Local First and are a Certified B Corporation. Also, their Hyattsville, MD location will be holding a very special event on Wednesday, September 21 (which is International Peace Day) where they will be dedicating a room to Howard Zinn. Check it out if you’re in the area!

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Blogging From: Dolce Coffee

What: Locally owned Coffee Shop/ Cafe

Where: East Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia

Sweet coffee.

Although renamed Dolce Cofee in the real word, if you type this coffee house’s address into Google, you’ll find that it was previously called “Greenberry’s.” Social Media Management people! Someone tell the owner of this place that they need to up their game when it comes to the their online presence. Just kidding! Does it really matter? Probably, not. Plus, I’m not here to judge their marketing strategies. Although, I guess I just did. Anyway…

When it was good ol’ Greenberry’s, this place was a franchise. During that time another blogger called it a  “local Starbucks wannabe.” I don’t know what it was like before now, but I’m going to guess that it’s at least made a little bit of an improvement from being a chain coffee shop. It’s not the greatest or cutest or nicest place in the world, but I don’t see it as a Starbuck’s wannabe, which to me, would be worse than being an actual Starbucks.

The first thing that I noticed about Dolce Coffee, before I even walked through the door, was the window display to the left of the entrance, which promotes the coffee shop’s weekly, Friday night Open Mic nights. Any establishment that fosters a weekly open mic is good in my book!

Support the all of the arts!

As I walked through the doors and toward the counter, I almost tripped on a huge bump in the floor, which I later found out from a sign placed oh-so-kindly on the front counter, is from water damage. The most annoying part about it is not that I did an awkward ooo-I-almost-just-tripped-but-I’m-going-to-pretend-that-no-one-saw-that dance, it’s that the girl behind the counter was waiting for it to happen. You know she just stands there all day waiting to laugh hysterically to herself over the unsuspecting customers who instantly become victims of the large bump in the floor. I know I would.

Thanks for the cone.

I ordered their Chicken Salad sandwich on wheat bread, which I can only say was an extremely disappointing excuse for chicken salad. It lacked any sort of taste and what little taste it did have was not enjoyable or chicken-like at all. Luckily, I also ordered a strawberry banana smoothie, which met and passed my extremely high smoothie standards. Although, it was no Shoes, Cup, and Cork Club Smoothie. But what can ya do? Not all smoothies can be the best smoothies, right?

Of course, now I am blogging and I do have to say that the environment here is very blogger friendly. Myself included, four people in this here coffee shop are currently situated behind Internet machines. The older man directly across the room from me looks like he’s reading the stock markets on his MacBook Pro. I say that because he’s bald, except for a few white hairs clinging for life on either side of his head, he’s wearing a white collared shirt, a tie, khaki dress pants, and suspenders, and just generally looks like an intensely stressed investment banker who just flew from Wallstreet to Leesburg in his private helicopter so that he could enjoy a diet coke at his favorite hometown coffee shop. Whatever, it could be true. Or maybe he’s just playing Farmville.

Another man who is across the room to my right is typing up a storm on his old-school IBM laptop. He look way too cool for a Mac. IBM all the way for him. From the looks of what little he has left of his greying hair, I’d say he’s middle-aged. He has a happy camper vibe going on. He is wearing a maroon T-shirt, dark brown cargo shorts, and hiking boots. He has sunglasses propped on  the top of his head and looks just a little bit too happy to be here. He probably just came home from a long, relaxing, technology free camping trip in the woods and is just so ecstatic to finally be reconnected with his beloved Internet. Either that or he just really likes his frappuccino and is telling everyone on Twitter how much so.

There is a decorative tree blocking my view of the third coffee shop laptop-user present here and so I will never know who he is or what he’s doing here. There is another man sitting on one of the stools that are lined up along the counter facing the window and I can’t tell if he has a Bluetooth device in one of his ears or if he’s talking to himself. Either way, why do you gotta do that here, man?

Oh and let’s not forget me. I’m also here. Little old me sitting in my big green comfy chair, blogging away about all of the people in the coffee shop. Am I totally creeping, or what?

Can you see the investment banker there in the corner?

I was also able to get some quality reading time in here. I’m currently feasting my brain upon L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which is a total delight of a book that I would most certainly suggest to all lovers of young adult whimsy who have not yet read it.

Oh, Anne.

Conclusions

Is this a good place to reading or writing? Sure. It’s quiet and they’ve got barely audible indie music playing in the background. You’ll find it easy to concentrate here. (Unless you’re me and have a terrible habit of watching, judging, and making up stories about people.) Also, they’ve got WiFi so you can write and publish all in one stop. What a concept!

Bonus Points: Random pictures of Audrey Hepburn that have nothing to do with anything else int he entire shop. I’ll take it.

Breakfast at...Dolce's?

Blogging From: Pound The Hill

What: Independent Coffee Shop

Where: Washington, D.C.

Hello, cute coffee shop.

I’m sitting at a table in the back room of Pound the Hill, a small coffee shop located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Wasthington D.C. This is one of the more, reader/writer friendly coffee shops I’ve come across in the Northern Virginia area. Although, I’m sure there are plenty more here in D.C. Most people here have a laptop in front of them though, so I feel right at home.

The atmosphere here is cute and homey. They have a few big, comfy sofa type chairs in the back room, but the setup mainly includes your typical coffee shop chairs and tables. I ordered their Curried Chicken Wrap. I can gladly say that it is absolutely delicious, as I continue to blog and stuff my face simultaneously. Sorry for the lack of photos, but I was too hungry to even think about photographing my food before chowing down.

I also treated myself to a Honey Pear Iced Tea, (the barista convinced me!) which is the perfectly delightful blend of honey, pear, and of course, tea. The staff here is super friendly and the customers are mostly young DC-ers who are too cool to work within the confinements of their own home’s.

Before I began to blog, I also got some reading done here. It’s a calm, quiet environment. An ideal place to read, write, study, or do whatever it is you need to do that needed to be done in a public setting without being bothered.

Blogging the day away.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for reading or writing? Yes! It’s quiet, almost every customer has their nose buried in a book or their face entranced by a laptop, and the diverse menu of  good food makes it almost so you would never have to leave (blog & eat forever!), except maybe for a shower. My only criticism is that even though it’s cute and coffee-shop-like, there’s nothing specifically unique or characteristic about the physical space. You know? There’s no shoe chandeliers or anything like that.

Bonus Points: Their coffee comes from a highly rated micro-roaster and they promise that it’s organic, sustainable, and fair trade. On their website, they even claim to be able to tell you the names of the farmers who harvest the beans that they use. If I ever return, I’m quizzing them! Oh, and they’re pretty tech savvy. Ever seen a cash register in the form of an iPad? Yeah, they have that.

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Blogging From: Shoes Cup and Cork Club

What: Local Shoe Repair Store turned Coffee Shop/ Miniature-Restaurant

Where: Downtown Leesburg, Virginia

What are you?

The first time I walked by Shoes Cup and Cork Club, it fooled me. It was all, look at me, I’m a shoe repair shop! (And in my head, I was all, What the heck? Who still gets their shoes repaired? Talk about keeping the history in a historic town.) But that was only the first time. The second time I walked by it, I was able to see past the giant “Shoes” sign (mainly by looking through the window) and realized that it is actually one little kick-ass coffee shop. I knew that it was kick-ass before even walking in because it also had a sign pointing to the alleyway next door that said, “This way to our secret garden.” Which really leads to their outdoor sitting area, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a secret garden.

This is my second time at Shoes Cup and Cork Club. My first visit was with my best friend Tara and one of the cool things about it that she pointed out to me right away is that they have a shoe chandelier. That’s right, a fancy, old-fashioned light fixture that has early 1900’s style shoes dangling from it’s arms. Yes, It’s as cool as it sounds. (Or as stupid as it sounds, depending on who you are.) The rest of the decor here is just as unique. All of the tables and chairs are wooden and no two are the same. There is a bench with cozy pillows that spans along the left wall and the wall on the right side has a rather large chalkboard that anyone can draw on. So DIY!

Shoes Cup and Cork Club boasts that they have the best coffee in Leesburg and all of Loudoun County (voted by Loudoun Living), but I cannot confirm or deny these statements because, one word: SMOOTHIES! You would have to pay me large sums of money to come to this establishment and order anything besides a smoothie. These smoothies here are unlike any smoothie your little blended-fruit-beverage-loving heart could ever dream of. During my first visit here, I ordered the Pina Colada smoothie and let me just say, that was the end of me ever ordering another smoothie from any other smoothie-making business ever. Today I ordered their Very, Berry, Berry smoothie and it is all of the fruity goodness I ever could have imagined and then some. If I were President of the World, I would make it mandatory that every living person have a SCCC Smoothie every day for their entire life forever. Except, if they didn’t want to, because, free will, freedom, etc.

All hail the heavenly smoothie.

When I first got here, I got distracted from blogging and played Words With Friends for like 20 minutes. As a result, I found out that this is a great place to sit and play Words With Friends while enjoying a smoothie. I was about to take out my laptop and start blogging, but first I checked out the WiFi situation on my phone and it turns out that they don’t offer any free, wireless connections to the Internet. I take that as a sign that maybe they wouldn’t really appreciate their Number One Smoothie Fan hogging one of their tables with her laptop. (Even though I am their Number One Smoothie fan and all.) So I decided to partake in all of my blogging activity via my phone and then took out my book to test out the reading environment.

It’s nice to read here but it’s also not the quietest place either. If you can concentrate over other people’s conversations than you’ll get along fine, but if you prefer mostly silence when you read than this is probably not the place for your public reading endeavors. More than anything,  it seems like Shoes Cup and Cork Club is a perfect little place to come to with your best friend when you want to drink lots of coffee, perfect smoothies, and maybe even some wine (Yeah, they have wine too. I know, right?!) while you sit and talk about everything and nothing for hours at a time.

Being all historical in Historic Leesburg.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for writing or reading?: Maybe. Writing only if you’re doing it the old way. You know, with paper and ink. There’s no WiFi so blogging is sort of O-U-T, out. Reading if you can tolerate moderate amounts of other people chatting. It’s not a spacey place so you will hear all about how your table neighbor’s week went.

Bonus Points: +1,000,000 points for their Smoothies! Also, shoe chandelier, fake-out storefront sign, and secret garden.

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Blogging From: King Street Coffee

Looks like a house, acts like a coffee shop.

What: Local Coffee Shop

Where: Leesburg, Virginia – South King Street

Right now, I’m at King Street Coffee in historic, downtown Leesburg. This isn’t my first time here. I just so happen to work around the corner from this quaint little coffee house. I have to say, that it’s hard to resist giving them all of my money in exchange for coffee, tea, and the privilege of sitting at one of their wooden tables in the seating area that feels like your mom’s kitchen. It’s very authentic. I’d blog from here forever if I could. It’s like blogging heaven. A small, quiet independent coffee shop with free WiFi and tables. How is Starbucks even still in business? Why would you choose that over this? Wake up, people of the world! Starbucks coffee doesn’t even taste good! That is a fact.

Opposite of Starbucks.

The building, like most of the buildings here in downtown Leesburg, is and old house. Like, I’m literally sitting in what was probably some early American colonist family’s living room. (OK, I don’t know if it’s that old. But let me just pretend.) I bet their ghosts are hovering over me right this very moment. They’re wondering what on earth this alien contraption that I put on their table is. “Why does she keep pressing all of those buttons?!”

Normally when I come to King Street Coffee I order an iced coffee with milk and sugar because I like consistency and am also in love with iced coffee. But watch out world! Today I switched it up. I got the Moroccan Mint Iced Tea as per recommendation of the King Street Coffee barista. It’s a unique blend and the mint gives it a nice little kick. Add a tiny bit of sugar to it and you’re good to go. A perfect 115-degree-weather-I-need-something-cold-in-the-form-of-liquid-now beverage. (Yes, as I am writing this, the heat index outside is about 115. Ew.)

Honestly though, next time I’ll probably get an iced coffee again because the coffee here is 100% delicious, 100% of the time. That’s expected though. I mean, it is a Coffee Shop (hence the word “coffee” in their name) and they use locally roasted beans. Everyone in favor of supporting the local economy say I. “I!”

As I write, I’m sitting at a small table next to a window that looks out to South King street. Across the street there’s a huge pink house that is an antique shop and gift store called The Pink Shop. It’s like, really pink. Almost too pink. But since it is called “The Pink Shop,” I guess the building really can’t be too Pink. In fact, I think this might be the only time that a building can acceptably be completely pink and have a bright magenta door. Nobody else try this. I don’t want to see any other buildings this pink ever.

Attack of the Pink!

I’m looking out the window and watching people walk by. This one guy that I just saw hates The Pink Shop. I just watched his girlfriend lure him in. She ran up the stairs to the door faster than he could say “But, babe, I don’t wanna!” He walked up the first two steps, paused, took a deep breath, sighed, and then hesitantly dragged his feet up the remaining steps as if he were walking to his overly-pink death. Watching people is fun. King Street Coffee is a good place to do this.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for writing or reading?: Yes! It’s quiet and I’ve never seen it overly crowded. The employees are friendly and the coffee is Delicious with a capital D. They have free WiFi and cute wooden tables with cute wooden chairs to sit at. Really, what more could a writer or reader ask for?

Bonus points for: Good music, use of local products, and pink scenery.

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