Bookstores have always been a haven for me. As soon as I walk in, it’s as if everything else going on in my life disappears and I have an overwhelming sense of calm and happiness. Everything about bookstores is perfect. From the scent of fresh brewed coffee and fresh bind parchment to the sense of order and efficiency. Powell’s has 3 locations in Portland. There is the main one on Burnside in the Pearl, a smaller yet cozier one on Hawthorne with a sister location featuring more home & garden supplies and books, and one in Beaverton where all the cool events happen. The Powell’s on Burnside is the largest bookstore I have ever been in, and that probably has something to do with it being the world’s largest independent bookstore. This bookstore is so big it needs a map, but don’t let that scare you away. If you are a tourist, just wander and explore. There is so much that I know it can be overwhelming for some people (trust me, I was there), but there is so much to discover that you wouldn’t normally be able to if you had a specific book you were looking for.
The beginning is always a great place to start. Powell’s has amazing sales on books you normally wouldn’t be able to find on sale. That’s always where I go first. Don’t expect to find just one small sale section though, Powell’s is a perfect place to find a used copy of a newer book and at a great price. They also always have these cool featured tables & end sections. I love it because I can always find something that I wouldn’t be able to find while browsing Goodreads or the New York Times Bestsellers list. Poets of Instagram…what an awesome feature!
My favorite thing about Powell’s though are these suggestion cards places in every aisle around the store. Whether it be a staff pick, an author suggestion, or a similar to suggestion, it’s how I pick up most of the books I buy from Powell’s. They are also suggestions that aren’t typical and you can truly discover new authors and books you may not have normally found or picked up.
Powell’s isn’t just about books either. If you love games, whether it be family friendly or independent table top games – they have everything you could possibly imagine. Alright, that may not be true, but their collection is pretty big but also selective, which leaves to a lot of great finds. They have an awesome crossword puzzle, sudoku, and mad lib section too! And if you love adult coloring books, man…they have probably every coloring book ever created.
Probably because Powell’s is in Portland, Oregon — it is entirely progressive and they have a great African American & Ethnic Studies, Feminist, and LGBTQ+ section. Not just for books, but also for magazines. They will have your Roxanne Gay, but also tons of books from more unknown authors that offer wonderful and important stories.
The magazine section at Powell’s is superb. You won’t just find your generic grocery store magazines. Art, photography, journalistic, prose, design, and culture are all genre’s of magazines that they offer.
There are so many things to explore and find at Powell’s, but I love the small details. The time and creativity put into the sections in the store. The people here love books and they love people and when you visit Powell’s, you aren’t just visiting a bookstore, you are visiting a magical place you can get lost in for hours and walk out with new interests, experiences, and probably a half-a-dozen new books for your shelf.
If you are ever in Portland … well, I already know you will visit Powell’s — I mean I don’t even have to tell you.