Without a doubt, Portland is notable for many things: Portlandia, rain, alternative lifestyles, and more, but what many people do not realize is that Portland has some of the country’s best bookstores. While, some bookstores remain hidden on side streets among bakeries or in little quaint neighborhoods, there is one behemoth which takes over a whole city block. Either way, they all are filled to the brim with literary and non-fiction gems which you will want to bring home. Though there are more than 6 to check out in Portland, here are six great ones!
First let’s take a look at the largest bookstore in Portland (self proclaimed “World’s Largest Independent Bookstore”). Giving The Strand in NYC and The Last in LA a run for best bookstore, Powell’s takes over an entire city block, and has multiple levels of books, with lots of staff around to help you find a book you would like. Each room is also color coded with specific subjects in each color. Both new books and used books can be found here, and all at amazing prices.
Mother Foucault’s bookshop might be one of the coziest bookstores around. Although small, it not only has an amazing selection, but it is also laid out extremely well. It might be what one would call a book lovers bookstore, as the selection is extremely well curated and reaches out toward the serious reader. Most books are used, though browsing the shelves, you will find some newer editions as well.
Longfellow Books is the used bookstore of your dreams, packed with books to the ceiling, there is no way to not spend lots of time searching through all of the amazing titles. That it is family run and has been in business for the past 35 years should be enough to get you to go and support Longfellow Books, but knowing that they also have an amazing selection of both popular literature as well as rare and antiquarian gems is the icing on the cake.
Located near the Sellwood business street, Wallace contains a selection of mostly used books that are organized well, and like Longfellows, go from floor to ceiling. The prices are excellent and the workers are friendly and extremely knowledgeable in their selection. Not only is the used section great, but they do have newer books in the front AND are willing and able to order you any book that you might want, whether it is about writing business reports, or the latest in literary fiction.
Reading Frenzy is a bookstore with an expertise in zines and zine culture, but they also have newer books that deal with political topics, and also carry smaller press fiction poetry. The zines are the reason to go, and the shopping experience is similar to discovering multiple treasures. Even if you are not in the know on “zines” this would be a great place to go check out and see what they are all about.
In Other Words is known for being the bookstore that Portlandia riffs on, and also for rescinding their invitation for Portlandia to film there due to the show’s hostile satirization which dismisses the problems of the world that In Other Words are trying to combat. All of this to say, In Other Words is a bookstore that prides itself on its independence and on its community appeal. It houses mostly radical books, which all have a diverse appeal, whether fiction, non-fiction, poetry, how-tos, etc. Don’t miss out on this bookstore; they host events (as shown below) and are a welcoming and an important resource for the community.
Which Portland bookstore is your favorite? Or judging from this list, which will be the first you go to when you make it to Portland?
YouTube Channel: Travel Portland
Featured image via Condé Nast