Powell’s City of Books

I have been talking about Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon for some weeks now. And have been talking about Portland itself for a years. Back in 2006 I crowned it the best city in the USA and four years later I feel the same way. I might amend that to say best small city, but for whatever Portland has or doesn’t have it is such a pleasant urban experience made all the more fantastic by lots of green and fresh, cool, clean-air. And it is just a stone’s throw from the home of some of the world’s best Pinot Noir wineries. Yum. We were too busy enjoying the city to take many pictures or Portland itself, and none to compare to the great snaps we got on the Oregon coast so I am not going to post any of those. But I think we also realized that Portand is more of a feeling and experience and it doesn’t necessaryily photograph well. It is all about a hundred little details that make it so pleasant.

But back to the main event! Before I get around to showing you some of the books I purchased at Powell’s I think I need to give you some idea of the scale of the place. It takes up an entire city block. But I will let the store map tell the story…


15 thoughts on “Powell’s City of Books

  1. Mary August 27, 2010 / 10:13 am

    Did you ever meet Fup, the cat? A delightful feline who might have stepped out of a Don Marquis poem. The Powell's newsletter followed the (low-key) adventures of Fup and his friends for years.



  2. Thomas at My Porch August 27, 2010 / 10:37 am

    Mary: I can't imagine a cat doing anything other than hiding in that busy place. I will have to look into Fup.


  3. Kathleen August 27, 2010 / 1:36 pm

    I have never been to Powell's but can't wait to go!


  4. C.B. James August 27, 2010 / 3:25 pm

    Everyone who loves books should go to Powell's at least once in their lives. I made a special trip to Portland just to visit Powell's. I prefer smaller bookstores, but I did walk out of Powell's with 12 books in my bag.


  5. Ted August 27, 2010 / 5:37 pm

    I spent the better part of a day there and my luggage was bursting with finds!


  6. Claire (The Captive Reader) August 27, 2010 / 7:05 pm

    I've driven through Portland countless times on the way from Vancouver (BC) to California but have never been able to stop – my tears at not being able to visit Powell's held no sway over my fellow travellers. My parents visited there this spring and fell in love with the city but, to my horror, didn't even glance inside a bookstore. I am shocked that we are related. I'm hoping to visit either later this fall or next spring and can't wait! Books are also so much cheaper in the States than in Canada, which could be dangerous for me!


  7. Molly August 28, 2010 / 10:56 am

    I must confess that I have never given Portland a thought when deciding where to go on vacation. With this post, however, it is now going near the top of the list!!!


  8. Ash August 28, 2010 / 12:21 pm

    I've never been to Powell's but now I'm dying to go! Thanks for sharing this.


  9. olduvaireads August 30, 2010 / 11:24 am

    I've always wanted to go to Portland and Powell's! It looks like such a bookwonderland!


  10. Daniel-Halifax August 30, 2010 / 6:35 pm

    I visited Powells for the first time a couple months ago and haven't been the same since..


  11. Ti August 30, 2010 / 10:45 pm

    I remember getting lost in that place. At least, that is the excuse I gave my family when they couldn't find me after several hours.

    Every large city should have a bookstore like Powell's.


  12. Thomas at My Porch August 31, 2010 / 10:00 am

    Kathleen: Go early before the crowds.

    CB: I prefer smaller bookstores as well. Although this wasn't my first time there, when I walked in on this trip my first thought was “it's too big”. You kind of have to go with a plan, browsing is almost not fun with too much to look at and too many people. Still, I like it much better than its New York equivalent The Strand.

    Ted: For the cost of a book (a flat fee of $12) we were able to have all of our purchases shipped home. Of course with no worries about overstuffing luggage the buying can get a bit out of hand.

    Claire: Do you live in Vancouver? I love Vancouver. If someone told me I had to choose between Portland and Vancouver I would have a very hard time. A very dear friend of mine is moving back there next year so I anticipate an increase in my BC travels. Last summer I met up with him there and we spent a few days in Whistler as well. So nice. Instead of “Oh, Canada” it should be “Ahhh, Canada.”

    Molly: It is especially nice if you are looking for a summer break from a warmer clime.

    Ash: Definitely worth the trip.

    olduvaireads: Portland has so many things to offer. Such a nice city.

    Daniel: It can have an effect on one.

    Ti: The odd thing is Portland isn't really a large city. Rather on the small side, yet it has this wonderfully huge place. Maybe all the rain makes Portlanders super readers.


  13. Rose City Reader September 5, 2010 / 4:14 pm

    Sometimes it takes a visitor to remind me why I live here. Thanks for the post.

    And for the map. Although I go to Powell's about once a week, I almost always grab a map just because I think it's so cool.


  14. Thomas at My Porch September 7, 2010 / 1:55 pm

    Rose City: I stupidly did not take a map this time until I made my purchases. Are you from the Portland area originally?


  15. Rose City Reader September 10, 2010 / 9:03 pm

    Born in Omaha, but I've lived in Portland since 1981 when I was in high school.

    I still use the Powell's map occasionally — it's easy to get lost!


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