From the cozy corners of our own homes, books transport us to distant worlds for a well-deserved getaway. A book city like Portland, however, attracts book lovers to explore the city’s literary treasures beyond the mere words written on reserved pages.
Portland’s independent bookstores are permanent emblems of resilience, finding ways to creatively pivot and survive despite the obstacles of online giants like Amazon and a global pandemic preventing people from browsing the stacks. Fortunately, readers of all kinds have heard the rallying cry in support of Portland’s independent booksellers.
World class bookstores
Brands 2021Powell’s books’50th anniversary, the world’s largest independent bookstore. Its flagship store in Portland’s Pearl District takes up an entire city block, offering 68,000 square feet of used, new, rare and out-of-print books. Powells.com offers the combined inventory of its three outlets and five warehouses, with around three million pounds in total. To celebrate this milestone, Powell’s Books published its50 pounds for 50 years. The collection is a self-reflective curation reminding everyone to “act as a mirror and a beacon”. The perpetual book recommendations at Powell’s Books, however, come from the beloved “staff choice” cards seen in the aisles – each card is like a personal note from a Portlander. Welcome to our city and the books we read here.
Third Eye Booksis a black-owned bookstore that opened its new brick and mortar location in June 2021. Owners Michelle Lewis and Charles Hannah are dedicated to being a resource for African-centric books and anti-racist literature. They’ve done some exciting book signings this summer, like with David Walker from the graphic novel The Black Panther Party, as well as an Amplifying #Blackvoices Summer 2021 campaign.
Vivienne Kitchen & Pantryis a neighborhood favorite in Hollywood which is undergoing an exciting transformation from its dining room to a food bookstore suitable for cookbook signings, chef demonstrations and cookbook-inspired classes. Their delicious treats aren’t going anywhere either. This perfect blend of Portland food and book culture is set to launch in early November.
Additional bookstores to note:
Pounds of green beans, which is also on trendy Alberta Street, has a staff that matches a kid’s current obsessions with a perfect book recommendation.
Wallace Booksit feels like stepping into your wacky teacher’s house with wobbly towers of books filling the charming yellow house with blue trim.
Every November, the South Park Blocks, including the Portland Art Museum and Portland 5 Performance Venues, are part of the immersive literary experience of thePortland Book Festival. Author talks, book signing sessions, an independent book fair, writing workshops and pop-up readings all over the city provide a sense of community and creativity welcome to bookworms and creatives alike. types. For 2021, the Portland Book Festival will host virtual programming from November 8 to 12 and a day of in-person events on November 13.
Offering courses in letterpress printing, bookbinding, screen printing and graphic design, theResource Center for Independent Publishing(IPRC) is aimed at lovers of books and creative expression. A mix of workshops, kids’ classes, and free events like Open Collage Night make this Southeast Division resource center a progressive space for literary artisans of all stripes.
Pink city pubcombines two of Portland’s iconic passions: beer and books. Owner Elise Schumock kept the layout of the previous tenant – a cozy Irish pub – and simply infused her own bookworm appeal into the space. The 18 taps of local beers are surrounded by rows of shelves. As Schumock’s father used to interview the authors on the local radio station, KBOO, there are plenty of signed copies by the author among the piles and the book bar continues his literary heritage.
A love of books, coffee and Portland’s Overlook neighborhood inspired owners Nathan and Mary to openCoffee Stacks. As a self-proclaimed cafe and community library, grab a book off the shelf to browse while sipping beers from a local roaster. Anyone can sign up for a library card from the piles, which works under the patron honor system of returning the books they borrow. The name Stacks comes from Mary’s childhood as she browsed the library stacks at her mother’s workplace at the University of Texas library.
that of the cityHeathman Hotelhas long been hailed as a literary center. Its library spans two floors with a royal library spanning the entire height of the room. The 2,700 volumes include signed editions of Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, American poets laureates and politicians. From clever to something a little pignier, The Heathman is also known to be a hot spot in the 50 Shades of Gray series.
Steps from Pioneer Square,The NineThe hotel has a comfortable library lounge with colorfully bound books and brown leather chesterfield sofas for reading.
The Duniwayis named after writer, suffragist and Oregon pioneer Abigail Scott. Each hotel meeting room is named after one of his books. The feminist celebration continues with books written by women throughout the hotel, curated by the team at Powell’s Books.