So, if you didn't know Portland pretty much has the best book store on the planet. It is one thing that tethers me here to my homeland. I literally can't imagine a world where there is no Powell's books close to my house. Where else do people buy books?! Having always had Powells since I was a knee high to a grasshopper I scoff at chain bookstores. I know not the experience of buying books from a place that isn't a city unto itself and independently owned and operated, a place that is the crowing jewel of a city.
In fact think it might be the number one tourist destination for Portland. Powell's is the city of books after all. There are a few locations, I prefer the smaller one that is close to my house, and by smaller I mean the average size of a barnes and nobel, but without all that superflous stuff they fill their space with. But the one downtown is the big one, the one people come from around the world to visit and it's the one we went to this weekend. It's four stories and, I don't know, like 70,000 sqft. As you can see the bookcases are tall and each giant room is a designated a color to help categorize it: the gold room, the rose room, the pearl room, et al.. The store has its own map and you can spot newbies and tourists as they find a corner to look at it to navigate their way to the next destination. It's magical, it's kind of like something, well, out of a book.
One of our nicest shopping districts was built around Powell's. It used to be this very industrial and forgotten part of town. There were several breweries down there and it smelled pretty terrible. It was the place to find books, scary pop-up nightclubs and lots of parking spaces. Now it's neighbors are Jonathan Adler, West Elm, Anthropologie and several high end furniture design shops. This part of town is almost unrecognizable from when I was younger, until I step through the bookstore doors and it's all exactly as it was. It is one of those places that just feels like home. Even if you have never been there, if you love books, Powell's will feel like home.
As a little girl I remember going there (when it was never nearly as crowded as it is now!), it was quiet and I would imagine being locked inside the store and having to live there forever. When I go now, I still get that feeling of being in a place that is almost mythical and fully encompasses the feeling of being cosy and that good kind of feeling of being lost. I single-handedly both credit Powell's for giving me a love of reading and blame them for turning me into such a book hoarder.
Well, I guess this post has turned into a love letter to Powell's, maybe a love letter to Portland in general. Because for me they are one in the same and I just couldn't have one without the other. I ended up getting The Snow Child on this trip. Has anyone read it yet? I am kind of regretting not getting State of Wonder . . . but I might just have to make another trip for it here soon.
Do you have a hands-down favorite spot in your city?