There was never a doubt that I was going to love Portland’s Powell’s City of Books. Bookstores are on of my favorite places in the world. I’ve already confessed my feelings for The Strand.
The impossible happened: I convinced Jack to visit Powell’s every day we were in Portland. Some days were for quick browses, others were more bring-your-laptop-and-work-at-the-café type days; I will keep them all day in my treasure chest of favorite memories.
Powell’s is such a special place.
It manages to feel homelier than most bookstores, even though it more than doubles them in size. The flagship store takes up prime location in Portland’s Pearl District (close to Clyde Commons). They stock up to one million books there. One million! That’s a heck of lot of books.
Getting a job there must be tough. You have to be friendly and smart and cool, AND you have to know your shit. I was talking to a staff member about a card game called Haggis (It’s really fun. We’re obsessed it. You should get it if you’re big nerds like us). She knew everything about it! Then, I took a chance and asked her if they had Molly Wizenberg’s book Delancy and she was like “OMG, of course we do! Her writing is so good.” She lead me through to an entirely different room – each room is color-coded – and talked me through the barely-there difference between their used and not used books.
She also told me to trust the tags, which are meticulously placed on the book shelves. Each recommendation is written by an author or staff member and highlights the reason why said person loved said book. A tag is nothing new, but they are everywhere, detailed and helpful.
Powell’s can do no wrong.
I fell in love from the moment I spotted the retro signage out the front. It’s probably the reason I’m so keen on moving to Portland one day. But until that day comes, my yellow Powell’s mug (which I use every day for coffee) will keep me company. I still can’t believe I left that “I like big books and I cannot lie” shirt behind.
As long as there are places like Powell’s around, writing, reading, books and community will always be a thing, a beautiful thing I want to be a part of.