I’m a City Girl at Heart

Posted on 25 May 2011

….a Powell’s City of Books girl, that is.

My trip to Portland last week included a visit to the famous Powell’s bookstore. It’s been roughly 8 years since the last time I made it there, and in that time I’d clearly forgotten just how glorious it is. The lit mag and small press section alone gave me the twitches. All my photos are out of focus because I was apparently too excited to stand still. Sorry about that.

I spent my brief time in the store running around the fiction section, picking up book after book after book and then reminding myself there was no way I could fit all these selections into my suitcase for the flight home. So I sadly had to put most of them back. Then I picked up additional armfuls of books and had to go through the entire process yet again.

Here’s one book I did buy: Georgic, by Mariko Nagai. This short story collection won the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize in 2009, the year before my collection, Living Arrangements, won the same award. As you can see, I was excited to spot this one in the stacks:

The Lit section has shelves full of books about reading. No joke. And featured small press titles and little side pockets full of cheap finds (with no shortage of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for some reason), and an extensive lit mag section. This photo only shows part of it:

True, I was a little distracted by the Powell’s employees giving me bewildered looks as I snapped pictures, but I pressed on. All told, I made it out of there with the short story collection, two lit mags, a couple of novels, one blindingly bright, flower-patterned journal, and a tiny button featuring a duck wearing a hat. Not too shabby.

Have you gotten lost in Powell’s? What’s your favorite bookstore? When did you last go on a book binge, and what did you buy?

10 responses to I’m a City Girl at Heart

  • Margosita says:

    I have never been to Powell’s. I really want to! Of course! It looks like heaven.

  • Deb says:

    I’ve never even seen a Powell’s. Looks great. My last book binge was done online. I bought a new translation of Finnish folklore, the most current book about German-Finnish relations during the war, To Know the Road by Anne Coyle Martin (Downith’s Mom), Galore by Michael Crummey, Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible after talk over at Teri’s and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

    • I love all your Finnish research! And Heart of Darkness is on my re-read list because it’s been ages. Of course, I don’t see how it will ever make it to the top with all the other first-read books currently jockeying for position.

  • Lyra says:

    I want to go there so badly. I’ve never been to Portland and want in.

    The last trip was to Borders, a depressing trip, like going to an estate sale.
    Between my husband and I we ended up with 20-30 books…
    We are going to be on Hoarders.

    • 20-30 books! You put my shopping trip to shame. I should have brought an extra suitcase just for my Powell’s purchases. And it was while I was running around picking up books that I truly grasped the benefits of e-readers. I still don’t own my own yet, but I can see the advantages. Of course, luggage weight limits and my weak arms be damned, I still love physical books best.

  • Paul says:

    My son and his wife just moved to Portland. We’ll be visiting there soon, and while they’re busy doing their new doctor residency work, my wife and I will be at the bookstore.

  • Averil Dean says:

    I’m going to Portland next month! You know where I’ll be….

  • Funny how we adapt to evolution. I used to shop only at my now dearly departed indie bookstore, and I sneered at the Borders and the Barnes and Noble. Now, with even the big chains succumbing, I find myself shopping more and more on Amazon.

    Frankly, I’ll buy a book wherever I can find one. And one day, if books are sold only in electronic form, I will embrace my Nook, click and order.

    If I can’t get my heroin, cold medicine will have to do.

  • lisahgolden says:

    Oh, Portland. (sigh)
    Oh, Powells. (double sigh)
    I’ve been to Portland. I’ve drooled over the Powell’s ads in the back of The Atlantic for years.

    It looks like a dreamy visit, Laura.

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