While many major cities like to boast about their nightlife and tourist attractions, Portland has gained a lot of attention as a city for book lovers. In fact, Portland has been named one of the top 10 most literary cities by the National Geographic. The city is home to a pantheon of poets, writers and literary giants, which is one of the reasons why Portland gets such a bookish reputation. Another reason is that Portland is home to a number of treasured bookstores.
Ranging from nationally renowned independent bookstores to smaller locations that locals love, Portland has the right fit for everyone. Whether readers are on the hunt for literary treasures or just a calm bookstore to grab a coffee and catch up on some reading, they are sure to find what they are looking for in Portland. Here are some bookstores that book lovers will want to check out the next time that they are in Portland.
1. Powell’s City of Books
If you know anything about Portland’s literary culture, then you are probably familiar with the bookstore juggernaut called Powell’s City of Books. This giant bookstore has nine rooms with about 3,500 sections, housing around a million books in one location. Another reason why Powell’s is so popular amongst booklovers across the globe is for its Rare Book Room. This room is home to the rarest literary works like author-signed first edition copies and other uncommon collectibles.
Powell’s is the largest independent bookstore in the whole world by a longshot. Residents of Portland and visitors who consider themselves bibliophiles are sure to find something amongst the store’s immense selection of books and literary gifts. If the main downtown location is too enormous and overwhelming, other locations are available including a specialized bookstore for home and gardening books, a general-interest store and a small location known for their sci-fi goodies for sale.
Note: If you missed a chance to stop by Powell’s before the end of your trip, you can visit the Powell’s Books location at the Portland International Airport before you depart back home.
2. Mother Foucault’s Bookstore
For a step back in time before technology became intertwined with our daily lives, bibliophiles will want to visit Mother Foucault’s bookstore where cell phones are prohibited and credit cards are not accepted. This bookstore is perfect if you want to step away from modern society and go back to an analog atmosphere where you can get lost in a variety of books. Many have described Mother Foucault’s as a library for incredibly wealthy and very educated people.
While this description of Mother Foucault’s may seem a bit intimidating to the average reader, it is still one of the best bookstores in Portland and the United States overall. This Portland staple features a curated collection of poetry and classic literature that everyone serious book lover is sure to enjoy. If you ever find yourself in Portland, Mother Foucault’s is a staple bookstore in the area for a traditional literary experience.
3. Broadway Books
Broadway Books has been a bright light for book lovers in Portland since 1992. This independent bookstore is a favorite amongst locals because they provide the best service when it comes to finding the right books for readers. Broadway books has a smartly curated selection for sale to suit all types of readers. They also offer a wide variety of magazines and creative cards in their inventory.
The owners of Broadway books are also incredibly committed in creating an environment where local authors and readers can come together. They provide numerous events for authors to come meet their fans and discuss their books and other ideas together in an interactive environment. Many Portland-based authors including Chelsea Cain, Cheryl Strayed and Lidia Yuknavitch have all stopped by Broadway Books to make a special appearance and speak with readers.
4. Longfellow’s Books & Music
Longfellow’s Books & Music is one of the best used bookstores in Portland, especially known for their unique collection of rare collector’s volumes of books. This family-owned bookstore is also known for their array of posters, maps, periodicals and other vintage items. While their selection is not as large as Powell’s books, Longfellow’s is the go-to store for readers looking for a niche book or those who want to browse some collectable items.
The Longfellow’s bookstore has been family-run for 35 years and continues to be a popular choice in Portland. This bookstore is the ideal choice if you want to get lost amongst the book shelves while browsing. Feel free to ask the friendly staff for recommendations to find the perfect book to take home. You should save some time in the afternoon for a visit to Longfellow’s because they are typically open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
5. Annie Bloom’s Books
If you are looking for a local favorite bookstore that is full of charm, then Annie Bloom’s Books is the place for you. This independent bookstore can be found in Portland’s Multnomah Village. Annie Bloom’s offers excellent customer service, a handpicked assortment of titles, a section for local authors. They even have a bookstore cat, Mollie Bloom, who can often be found lounging around or mingling with shoppers.
Younger readers can head directly to the back of Annie Bloom’s Books to their children’s section which features colorful picture books and easy reads. Older customers can check out the many curated shelves that feature books that are popular amongst contemporary readers. Visitors and Residents of Portland can stop by Annie Bloom’s, grab a book and grab a cup of coffee for free during their visit.
6. The Booktique
The Friends of The Lake Oswego Public Library run a used bookstore called the Booktique, which is used as a primary fundraising operation for the library. This bookstore is located just a few miles south of Portland, but it offers some of the best prices on used books, CDs, DVDs, records and other literary items. New books are constantly being added to their collections, so readers who want to save money on books while supporting a local library are encouraged to visit the Booktique.