We only spent a few hours in Portland, really, getting there on Saturday evening and leaving on Sunday morning, with trips to Gresham and Multnomah Falls in between, but the one thing I knew I must do in Portland was to go to Powell’s City of Books. It’s the Mecca of bookstores. It’s what every other amazing bookstore I’ve been to (the old Cherry Creek location of the Tattered Cover in Denver; The Strand in NYC) wants to be when it grows up. Given my bibliophilia, I absolutely had to see it in person. So we went, and I stepped in the door, and I wanted to cry.
They had everything. Yes, that. Yes, that too. Every room I went into, every section I looked at, every author (of adult books, anyhow) that I looked for, this store had most if not all of the books I could possibly think of. In some cases, in both used and new copies. I did try to find a couple of specific children’s books with no luck, but for the most part Powell’s had everything I could think of and many things I’d never heard of. They had entire rooms and an entire floor that I didn’t even get a chance to see, let alone poke through, because we were on a specific schedule to get to our friend’s house in Redding by dinnertime. I wanted to live in Powell’s. It was like getting 45 minutes in the Louvre. I’m not even sure an entire day would have been enough time. But that wasn’t the worst part.
The worst part was that I wanted to buy books. I wanted to purchase a copy of every book I’d ever wanted, and every book I ever read but never owned, and I wanted to buy books for everyone I know. I can’t even tell you why I was so much more affected by Powell’s than I am by most bookstores, but just something about that store made me want to Buy All the Things. Alas, not being in a financial position to afford anything extraneous at this point, I couldn’t in good conscience buy most of the books that I wanted. I ended up buying nothing, and so really, spending 45 minutes in the best bookstore on the planet and being unable to buy anything was maybe the worst part of our trip. Even though being in there was amazing. I’ll have to make sure that next time we’re in Portland, I’ll have money to spend at Powell’s.