The best books about Washington D.C.

9 authors have picked their favorite books about Washington D.C. and why they recommend each book. Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

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Book cover of Washington


By Meg Greenfield,

Why this book?

The book Washington chronicles the significant career of Meg Greenfield, an editorial page editor of The Washington Post. Greenfield, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, wrote the book during the last two years of her life. Greenfield’s boss and close friend Katharine Graham contributed the foreword which provides context. Greenfield came to Washington in 1961 and was hired by the Post a few years later. Her editorials at the Post and her columns in Newsweek were witty and smart. Her stories provide a political picture of Washington, D.C. at the end of the American century. She was…

From the list:

The best books about women, politics and journalism in the post-World War II years

Book cover of Our House

Our House

By Louise Candlish,

Why this book?

Gone Girl started the domestic suspense trend and showed us that suspense can be driven by family/household dynamics. Louise Candlish takes this to another level in Our House when the main character comes home to find another family moving into her house. She soon discovers that her husband has sold the house from under her feet and disappeared. This is a fantastic, slow-burn literary thriller with a great ending.

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The best books for fans of Gone Girl

Book cover of Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe

Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe

By Josh Allen, Sarah J. Coleman (illustrator),

Why this book?

Writing a really good spooky short story is hard. Writing 13 of them is near-impossible. Yet Allen has put together an anthology of sheer terror, with each story hinging on something simple and mundane. Basically, Allen makes you afraid of everything, and does it with a smile.

From the list:

The best spooky middle grade books

Book cover of Bricktown Boys

Bricktown Boys

By Pete Fanning,

Why this book?

Bricktown Boys is a story of a family in crisis from a boy’s point of view. Thirteen-year-old Sam Beasley lives with his dysfunctional mother, her abusive boyfriend, and drugs. He assumes the role of his mother’s protector and will do anything to save her from herself which is near impossible. Fanning gives us a counterpoint to Sam’s mother in Mrs. Coleman, the bible quoting, grammar stickler widow on his street. Mrs. Coleman is full of spirit and kindness, but also has a no-nonsense approach which Sam gravitates to. She is his rock in an upside-down world. This book has wonderful…

From the list:

The best middle grade books about kids caught in a family crisis

Book cover of Personal History

Personal History

By Katharine Graham,

Why this book?

Personal History is Katharine Graham’s memoir. She became the first female Fortune 500 CEO when she took over at The Washington Post. From having Warren Buffet as a mentor to presiding over The Washington Post during Watergate, her life was absolutely fascinating. There is so much to learn about leading, women’s empowerment, and how we show up at work through Graham’s journey. What makes this book unique, though, is that in addition to being a classic in the women’s leadership genre, it’s as juicy and riveting as your best suspense novel.

From the list:

The best books to help women find more fulfillment in their work and career

Book cover of The Alphabet Man

The Alphabet Man

By Richard Grossman,

Why this book?

Grossman achieves something remarkable in The Alphabet Man. The work manages to weave together visual, avant-garde graphic design, literary poetry, and a suspenseful thrilling plot. The book itself is gorgeous to look at it, and the text layout is designed as a work of art. Grossman seamlessly blends these disparate elements into a unified, unique creation that breaks the boundaries of what a novel can be. 

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The best books that shatter the conventions of what a novel can be

Book cover of This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral--Plus Plenty of Valet Parking!--In America's Gilded Capital

This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral--Plus Plenty of Valet Parking!--In America's Gilded Capital

By Mark Leibovich,

Why this book?

I’ve always had a fascination with America’s political capital, Washington, D.C.—the way it brings together some of the most brilliant and bombastic people in the universe, the way it serves as a petri dish of high-minded principles and low-brow appetites, the juxtaposition of glittering surface and seamy underside that made the early seasons of House of Cards so binge-able. In This Town, Mark Leibovich brings D.C. to life in a story that is at once stomach-churning, rage-inducing, and laugh-out-loud funny. If you’ve ever wondered what Washington is really like behind all the flag-waving and politicking, the talking points, and…

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Book cover of Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government

Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government

By Catherine Allgor,

Why this book?

So much of the early presidency took place out of “office hours.” Social events where women were present were considered apolitical and non-partisan, but of course, women had just as many opinions about politics back in the Early Republic as they do today! Instead, these events served as helpful venues for brokering deals, arranging political marriages, and securing appointments for friends and family members. Wives were also essential partners in campaigns and coalition-building once politicians were in office. You can’t understand the early presidents without understanding the broader social context as well.

From the list:

The best books about American presidents who left their mark on history

Book cover of Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning

Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning

By Claire Dederer,

Why this book?

Dederer’s book explores her sudden, mid-life yearning for carnal pleasure and compares them to her promiscuous youth. We see her sleeping with enough people in college to earn a recommendation on a park bench (“for a good time call Clare Dederer"), and also as a married mother and artist who longs for something more, but she’s not sure what it is. Punctuated with hilarious entries from her childhood journal, this book delivers on every level.
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Book cover of Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital

Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital

By Mark Andersen, Mark Jenkins,

Why this book?

Tells the story of the further development of punk in Washington DC, and the birth of a thousand subgenres, from emo to post-hardcore and beyond, and punk's embracing of a more aware political consciousness, as well as a broader musical spectrum.
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The best books about the history of punk rock

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