This last week, I went on a 5-day vacation to Oregon. The highlight of the trip? Powell’s bookstore. Both my fiancé and I absolutely love books (collecting, reading, writing, photographing) so I’m pretty lucky to have gone with someone who loves wandering around bookstores nearly as much as I do. We ended up visiting twice during our stay in Portland, but the first time was so much more interesting because it was exploring unknown territory (especially for him since he refuses to look up anything about where we go ahead of time since it “ruins the adventure” of it).

So I’ll go ahead and write about my reaction to the bookstore, the atmosphere, the selection, and of course my experience and haul in whole.

One of the manga sections on the bottom floor. The larger of the two was upstairs with science fiction.

After a pretty tiring day of driving from Gold Beach into Portland, he and I were both just ready to relax and do something exciting that would take minimal effort. Our choice? Powell’s. That was our first stop (besides the place we were staying) when we finally got into Portland. We had to find parking about three city blocks away in a parking garage – it sucked but it was better parking than at most of the popular spots in the city, it seemed. So we got in and we were just shocked. I knew that it was large, but I just hadn’t realized how large it actually was until we were inside walking around. The rooms were incredible and everything so well organized that it was just flabbergasting. Although I didn’t go with any one particular book in mind, my fiancé did. Thankfully, there were computers located throughout the store that told you which room the book would be in if the store had them; Powell’s had all 3 of the more uncommon books/comics that he had been hoping to find: Mark Hodder’s The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man from his Burton and Swineborne series,  Jhonen Vasquez’s Squee comic, and Jhonen Vasquez’s Zim comic Vol. 1. These aren’t exactly common where we live, so he was ecstatic to have found them so easily in our first trip to Powell’s!

One of the Y.A. wall sections. (Sorry for the poor quality.)

I browsed through the Y.A. section while he read (because reading while you were in there was completely fine and no one received angry stares from employees for sitting in a spot for an hour or two just reading, like is the case with some bookstores) and I found everything that I could have hoped for. The manga selection was incredible (two different areas that we passed, though I only photographed one area). Everyone was polite; no one just entered into another’s personal space without excusing themselves; people were treating books kindly around every corner; the entire building smelled of books and coffee (which is an accomplishment considering how small the Coffee Room was in comparison to the rest of the bookstore). Honestly, the entire atmosphere was welcoming, though not excessively so. Does that make sense? I felt at home there, but not enough to forget where I was in the sea full of other book shoppers. Even though I wanted to stop and read for a bit and get a coffee, there was that constant nagging in my mind reminding me that it was my only chance to ever visit – most likely – so I had to make the most of my time there and not dawdle.

Science Fiction section upstairs

Onto my book haul!

Haul from the first visit.

First Visit:
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
 by A. G. Howard
Mountains of Madness
by H. P. Lovecraft
by Betsy Cornwell
Voices of Dragons
by Carrie Vaughn
Downton Tabby
by Chris Kelly

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on the release day!

Second Visit:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (new alternate cover)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (new alternate cover)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne

Zach actually picked out The Looking Glass Wars and Mechanica for me because he thought that I’d like them. Splintered was more of a buy because I love Alice and I’m hoping that it’s a fun take on the classic novels. Mountains of Madness was a gift for my older brother who loves dark science fiction. Voices of Dragons is a gift for my close friend who reads everything I write and lets me read everything she writes; we also exchange books semi-frequently. Downton Tabby is a gift for my other book-loving friend. By the way, I bought a signed copy of The Looking Glass Wars because it was in the front and Zach was so excited that they had signed books for sale that I couldn’t resist!

Notes were lining the bookshelves with drawings, quotes, and reasons why certain ones were recommended. Some of the “If you like ______, then you’ll like ______” were quite helpful!

I’d wanted the alternate covers of Harry Potter for some time now, so I just bought the first two to start while the Harry Potter hype was going on. He and I actually bought our copies of The Cursed Child at the world’s largest new and used bookstore / world’s largest independent bookstore on its release day! We didn’t go to the event the night before because we’d both been drinking in a rundown little pub down the road from where we were staying, but we did get the book the following morning before leaving Portland. I am never removing the tag from it for that reason alone!

Honestly, we didn’t like Portland. Actually, we just didn’t really like Oregon in general. It was pretty to look at but uncomfortable for us to be in. The city wasn’t “weird” to us, just artistic. The best part of our entire stay in Portland was Powell’s City of Books. I highly recommend going just for the bookstore.


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