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A Trip to the Middle East…. books and more

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By Angie Cruz

GU Book Crew made a quick stop at Middle East Books and More on Wednesday afternoon and we weren’t disappointed! Friendly service, a nice environment and a great variety of books on all Middle Eastern topics. We even picked up a book! Right in the middle of DuPont and Adams Morgan, its a great place to visit and pick up a book before your afternoon coffee stop.

Fast Facts

Theme: Middle East book and ‘more’, including olive oils, pins, posters and pottery  inspired by the Middle East. They also sell a variety of items that go back to non-profits and/or help the refugee crisis.

Time of Our Visit: Wednesday afternoon, pretty quiet and perfect timing

Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Tuesday-Friday, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm Saturday-Sunday

A Brief History: Middle East Books and More started as a project of the American Education Trust that has been promoting U.S.-Middle East understanding. The founders of AET later created Middle East Books and More to meet the need for quality books about the region and U.S. policy

Food? No 😦

Wifi? No 😦

Drinks? No 😦

Appointment necessary? No, just walk right in!

Events: You can find a list of events on their website here

Typical Audience: Usually Middle East scholars, or people looking for a specific topic relating to the Middle East. Not as “mainstream” but totally fun.

If This Place Were a Band: Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love (Acoustic)

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Bookstore · Reviews

Book Browses: A Look inside Kramerbooks on Connecticut Avenue

Our first store is Kramerbooks on Connecticut Avenue, a charming bookstore, restaurant and bar that is popular with D.C. bookworms.

By: Isabella Basco and Angie Cruz

Fast Facts

Time of Our Visit: 9 am on a Monday morning.

Hours: 7:30 am – 1 am daily, Fridays and Saturdays  until 3:00 am

Brief History: Kramers opened in 1976 as one of the first book store/cafe’s in the Washington, DC area. The ability to provide guest with the newest books, freshest food, and a variety of drinks has kept their business consistent throughout the changes in DC.

Food: Not just another cafe in DC! Kramers has a full menu which can be found here. During our visit we hand the Traditional Benedict and the Buttermilk Pancakes, which did not disappoint. It is highly recommendable to pick your favorite book and sit down for a meal. The fresh produce

Wifi: no 😦

Drinks: Yes, they have a full bar. By clicking on the Beer, Wine & Cocktail link here, you can see their drink menu. But if you ever feel like going to a bar without the bar scene, Kramers is your spot. Right in between the book store and cafe, you will find a bar big enough to serve your favorite drinks, but small enough to feel comfortable.

Appointment necessary? No, feel free to just walk in! Although there are busy hours to be cautious during lunch and dinner times because it does get busy.

Events: Kramers has a full list of events including book signing and speaking engagements on their website. But you can also make reservations for your parties here.

Typical Audience: Indie book store junkies with an appreciation for the New York Times best seller list, great taste in beers, and fresh produce.

If this place were a band: Mumford & Sons – Awake My Soul 

Libraries · Library · Reviews

Library Review: National Library of Medicine

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By Joey Payton

What’s the largest and most accessible repository of biomedical information in the world? Look no further than the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Since the library is inside the NIH campus, you must go through a security inspection. but once you’ve received your visitor’s badge you can explore at leisure.

“Anyone who has ID that can get onto the NIH campus can come into the library,”  said Dr. Wanda Whitney, a librarian and NLM’s Head of User Services.

Healthcare Information at Your Fingertips

With healthcare being among the list of top concerns for Americans, it’s comforting to know that accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information is only a Metro-ride or a click away.

Bibliophiles in the DC area should make an effort to visit the NLM in person because it brings some perks: “The databases that we have a subscription to can only be accessed here (in the NLM),” Whitney said.

Fortunately, the NLM considers the people who can’t visit in-person, “We make our own databases that anyone can use. Just go to our websites. That’s your tax dollars at work,” said Whitney. “We have lots of free resources—almost 300 of them–databases, APIs, websites, apps.”

Keeping History Relevant

Helping people get access to medical information is just one of NLM’s specialties, and it’s been doing this for a long time.

“We are actually older than the National Institutes of Health,” said Whitney. “We used to be part of the Surgeon General of the Army. With legislation, we became part of the public health service, and moved from downtown D.C. to this campus.”

NLM continues to show how medical history has contemporary implications through its ‘History of Medicine’ division. One focus of this division is creating compelling medical history exhibits. “The current exhibit that we have is in conjunction with Mount Vernon. It’s about how the slaves were responsible for all the cooking and the nutrition [on Mt. Vernon],” said Whitney.

According to Whitney, the NLM is also home to some special collections, most notably, a Nobel Prize recipient’s writings. “We have Marshall Nirenberg’s writings from when he was working on his discovery. He was a scientist here at NIH so we have his lab notebooks, and his medal—his Nobel Prize for his confirmation of the structure of DNA,” Whitney said.

NLM’s can be enjoyed in-person, online or in various cities with the traveling displays, Whitney said.

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Extending NLMs Impact

The NLM’s institute status grants it the ability to give grants (pun intended). “When you’re an institute then we also get money so we can do grants as well, just like the National Cancer Institute or any of the other institutes,” said Whitney. “The grant money we give out is for topics like using bio-informatics to improve health because that’s our focus.”

Along with grants, NLM does outreach with schools and libraries across the U.S. and its territories.

If you’re a lover of books and knowledge, I can’t think of a better place to satiate one’s appetite for medical information than Bethesda’s NLM.

Fun fact/shameless plug: I discovered this library on my way home from a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (My wife, Jancy, and I found out that we’ll become the proud parents of a baby–watch the gender reveal!)

Fast Facts

Place: National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD

General theme: World’s largest repository of biomedical literature

Hours: Monday-Friday; 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

A Brief History: The NLM started in 1863 as a small collection of medical books and journals in the office of the United States Army Surgeon General. In 1962, the collection moved to the National Institutes of Health.

Food/Drink: Yes. Dining Center located in NLM annex, Lister Hill National Center of Biomedical Communications. No food or drinks are allowed in the reading rooms.

Wifi: Yes.

Appointment necessary: No, but remember your ID!

If this place were band: Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier 

Reading List

5 Books Set in Washington, DC

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By Molly Korroch

It’s hard to find a book set in Washington, D.C. that doesn’t have some sort of political twist. Politics might not be exactly what DC does best, but it’s certainly what this town is most known for. (That and the cupcakes in Georgetown.) With that in mind, the following books each have a political spin, but their perspectives are unique. There’s the straight talking, the romanticized history, and the he-said-she-said. Each author and character has their own take on the same town. Each is wonderfully and sometimes hilariously accurate in its own way. Whether it’s raining outside or you’re feeling homesick for the District, if you want to take a mental wandering of this city one of these will hit the spot.

For imagination:

Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon

Henry and Clara is one of Thomas Mallon’s first novels. Originally published in 1994, Mallon’s story brings the reader straight back to a certain Good Friday in 1865. He explores the idea of the bystander, which is a theme present in many of his books. Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris were the guests of President and Mrs. Lincoln the night of the infamous assassination. Despite there being little information about Rathbone and Harris, Mallon weaves an engaging story with the backdrop of nineteenth century Washington.

For fact checking:

All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein 

Couldn’t have a list about D.C. that didn’t mention Watergate, could we? All the President’s Men tells the story of arguably the most impressive bit of reporting of all time. The pair’s relationship and explanation of their method is perfect inspiration for anyone looking into the journalism aka the fact checking industry. (And, as they say, the book is always better than the movie.)

For action packed:

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

Another classic written by D.C. action titan Tom Clancy. The Hunt for Red October is Clancy’s debut novel and is the first of his Jack Ryan series. While it may not take place in D.C. proper, The Hunt for Red October is packed with all the action we imagine is going on behind the scenes in Langley, VA. This novel tells the story of Russian submarine general wants to take his ship, Red October and defect to the United States. A young CIA analyst is the only one who seems to be able to understand the general’s signals.

For high brow:

Washington, D.C. by Gore Vidal

Washington, D.C. is the sixth novel yet first published (eat your heart out Star Wars) of Gore Vidal’s Narratives of Empire series. Each epic novels, this one focuses on a Conservative senator, a congressional aide, and a newspaper mogul. The story starts in 1937 and continues in the fifties and sixties and the events surrounding the Cold War. Vidal offers us a thoughtful portrait of the city and the time.

For beach reading:

The Washingtonienne by Jessica Cutler 

We’ve saved the juiciest for last. Jessica Cutler’s book The Washingtonienne is based on her synonymous and defunct blog. Cutler infamously documented a variety of sexual encounters (paid and otherwise) around the city on her blog. Inevitably, she was found out and she was immediately fired from her job in a senator’s office. Her book is a sort of tell-all, but only if you read between the lines and do your research. Otherwise, a tale for those who delight in the guiltiest of pleasures.

Image via Washington DC Tours