Powell’s Book Store (Portland, OR)

Powell’s Bookstore

1005 W Burnside St

Portland, OR 97209


I love books.  I have since I was about seven or eight.  I was a rotten kid, so I spent a *lot* of time grounded.  I had no tv, and pretty much had to spend my time in my room or outside doing chores.  This left me a lot of time on my hands.  Luckily for me, my parents always let me go to the library (even if I was grounded).  This became my escape.  It also ended up as a boon when I got older – I read faster than my classmates, had better retention, and read at a higher level.  Small favors I guess!

Since then, I haven’t given up on my love for reading.  Before I had children of my own, I read a book a week – minimum.  Now, I read at a slower pace (and split things up between the written word and audiobooks).  One of my favorite things is still spending time in a good bookstore or library.  Add in a bit of the labyrinthine and I am a truly happy camper.

Enter Powell’s.


Powell’s is huge.  It takes up 3 floors of a building that takes up one full city block.  There are multiple entrances and exits, and the stacks inside are spread out between all three floors.  It bills itself as the largest independent bookstore in the United States.  Things are well organized, with different areas occupying different floors.  Staff favorites are located at the end of pretty much every aisle – and there are a lot of aisles.  Personally, I think it is pretty awesome for a place to hire people who obviously both read and love books themselves.  The selection is extensive and features both new and used books.  I saw versions of books I had never seen at home as well as books by authors I rarely see on shelves anywhere.

Enjoy signed copies?  They have those too.  I looked around for a signed Palahniuk but sadly did not see one (maybe kept elsewhere?).

Powell’s even has a section dedicated to board games. Damned cool.  Also, they have an awesome selection of memorabilia related to both books and movies.  Harry Potter socks, ties, jewelry; Wonder Woman purses (Anna desperately wanted one); Doctor Who watches; Tolkien everything.  All of these were available at reasonable prices and better than expected quality.

But books are where Powell’s shines.  New books, old books.  They have them all.  Like children’s books?  They have most an entire floor dedicated to them.  I almost bought an illustrated copy of the Wizard of Oz – a book which I have no attachment to but I thought the kids would like.*^*

The End Result?

When all was said and done, we went to Powell’s four times over the course of our visit – basically every day excepting the day we arrived.  We *really* like roaming around in Powell’s.  It is a minor miracle (due more to modern weight restrictions for luggage on domestic flights) that we did not leave with more than we did (2 books, a children’s illustrated book, a puzzle, and some candy).  Powell’s is an oasis for the book lover.  Lots of nooks and crannies to explore (and quite literally, get lost in).  Also, the staff was amazingly knowledgeable and helpful.  Plus, good coffee at the coffee shop on one of the floors.

So, take a break from the drinking, eating, and dispensaries that abound in downtown Portland.  Check out Powell’s.  Buy a book.  Thank me later.

Author’s aside:

Things overheard at Powell’s:

Books? People still read those?

I shudder to think…