a blog so you can keep with him

Portland Day 2 – Powell’s Books


The Gold Room, I believe? Home of sci-fi, mystery, and my brother’s fav – manga


Display of music books in the Pearl Room


An autographed Ingmar Bergman collection in the Rare Books (Pearl Room)

Powell’s is the most fascinating store, bar none, I have ever been to. To start with, the size of the place is staggering. We arrived around 1:45; I spent a half hour in a room that certainly was of respectable size and subject for a bookstore (the Blue Room, for Powell’s attendees), littered with literature, poetry and classics. What I didn’t gather until I had left the room was that there were 9 other rooms demanding just as much attention and care as I had given to the Blue Room. This, on top of the fact that I had barely scratched the surface of that room.


I ended up looking in-depth (ranging from a few minutes’ contemplation to a 20 minute reading session) at the following and more –

I did not purchase something from all the authors/artists mentioned. Fortunately, I did buy quite a few things!


What I haven’t been able to touch on in my lists of personal travels through the store though is the quality that, as bookstores are struggling more and more, seemed rewarding to Powell’s for me: the people. A Sunday afternoon is admittedly as crowded and leisurely as a place can be, but I’ve never seen a bookstore this packed before, or with the variety of people around. A large independent bookstore should be able to reach out to many audiences, and this Powell’s is certainly meeting the challenge. Hell, they found a way to appeal to almost all of my reading interests, and I’ve never felt so satisfied with a representation of what a book can offer.

Because, more than a place of retail, Powell’s is an important manifesto: Reading is a way of life, and to giving it any less respect than that can mean a compromise on what, and furthermore how, you can go about dealing with others.

Participating in the intricate ballet of browsers who duck, swerve, crouch, skim, and read is a chance to enter into something that, while literary, isn’t scholarly or academic. It’s downright common, and emphasizes individual interests and personal exploration in a diverse, supportive community. That’s what was fascinating, uplifting, and promising to me about Powell’s Books.


The Blue Room – literature, poetry, classics, criticism

Filed under: Books, Photos,

3 Responses

  1. Mom says:

    Thanks, Trev – nice walk through of the store. & I call dibs on the Virginia Woolf book after you read it. Love, Mom

  2. […] has been patiently waiting my time for almost exactly a year now – if we look back into the archives of this blog, we can see Cummings’ pipe peeping up alongside Woolf, Oe, and […]

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