For my first trip to the west coast (Portland, Oregon to be exact), I made sure Powell’s City of Books was at the top of my must-see list. Powell’s is an independent bookseller, has an inventory of over two million books, and is a third-generation owned business with five locations around Portland. Its flagship location at 1005 W Burnside St. also happens to be the largest new and used bookstore in the world – and it occupies an entire city block.
I had only an hour to spend inside, which you know, if you’ve been to Powell’s, is not nearly enough time. I would say at least a week is needed to adequately browse the four floors and nine color-coded rooms.
I was already feeling pretty good when I walked in because I snagged a great parking spot close by, and I was overwhelmed with joy as I passed through the doors. Gifts, bestsellers, recommendations, and used books were displayed as a warm welcome to all who entered. I spent most of my hour in the blue and yellow rooms, which house literature, poetry, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, thrillers, and manga, respectively. Surrounded by wood shelves and fellow book lovers, I found many books I love, books I’ve never read, and got lost in a few like one should in a bookstore.
Remembering my limited time, I quickly passed through the orange, rose, red, and purple rooms, glancing at authors I recognized, touching old editions, and stopping to add some titles to my Goodreads TBR list.
The third floor – the final floor dedicated to books – is made of pearls. Okay, not made of pearls but it is called the pearl room, and the treasures there are magnificent. Art, architecture, computers, science and more share the space, and beautifully bound collections line one wall; they are impossible to miss.
Sadly and shamefully I had to pass by the Rare Book Room; I still feel a catch in my throat as I think about missing out on its contents and not managing my time better. I jogged down the stairs and made my way to the counters to check out. I exercised admirable self-control by only selecting four books to buy: The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, and the Penguin Clothbound Classic edition of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I made sure to grab a Powell’s mug too, of course.
If you’re in Portland, Oregon, and definitely if you’re on the West Side, pay Powell’s a visit. Go in to add to your book collection, relieve some stress by opening up a book among the shelves, sell your used books, or attend one of their hundreds of book club meetings and events.
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside St.