A Hectic June: Trip 1, Day 6 (Powell’s City of Books)
During the second part of my trip to the Pacific Northwest, I spent a long weekend with my friends H and D in Vancouver, WA. We spent a day in Portland going to one place I believe everyone needs to journey to: Powell’s City of Books. This massive bookstore is one square city block and is four stories tall. It is large enough that it has its one main information desk near the cash registers on the bottom floor of the store. Additionally, each of the many floors and/or sections each have its own help desk as well. Looking for something in the large children’s section? Find the help desk. Looking for something in the science fiction and fantasy section? Ask the help desk there. Powell’s also has computers which customers can use to search for books on their own. As if the extra help desks were not enough, they have fold maps (like park maps for amusement parks), which have a floor by floor guide to where each section of books is located.
I could easy, and did, spend hours in this store and only see a small fraction of the place. Realistically, I have been there about four different times, and there are whole floors that I have ever even set eyes on! I like Powell’s so much that it was the one request that I made of my hosts: whatever other awesome stuff we do, I want to go to Powell’s at least once. Every time I have been there, and this was no different, I arrive with an empty backpack and leave with one that is full of books. This year, they were having a sale in the science fiction section of the store (one of my personal favorites, alongside fantasy). The books, in no particular order, are You by Austin Grossman; books by Philip K. Dick, including The Penultimate Truth, The Solar Lottery, and Vulcan’s Hammer; and William Gibson’s Bridge trilogy (Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties).
One of the other draws for me, at least, is the pillar by the stairs in the science fiction and fantasy section of the store. It is a painted white pillar that is encased with hard protective plastic. When famous science fiction and fantasy authors visit Powell’s, they sign and date this white pillar. Three signatures in particular stood out to me: Neil Gaiman, Brian Froud, and Robert Jordan.
For me, going to the EMP Museum and Powell’s City of Books are must-see places in the Pacific Northwest that I want to see every, or almost every, time that I am up there.
What about you? What places in the Pacific Northwest do you consider a must-see?
Please share in the comments below, so that we all may find new and wonderful places to travel to and see.