One of the downsides of completing a master’s degree in English (aside from student loan debt and bleak job prospects) is an incurable compulsion to buy books. Fortunately, in Portland we’re blessed with an abundance of independent bookstores to help minimize the cost of this compulsion while supporting the local economy. Here are five of my favorites.
Murder by the Book
I discovered Murder by the Book, a bookstore specializing in new and used mystery books, one summer afternoon when I was killing time wandering down Hawthorne. I left with a copy of “Christine” by Stephen King (I stand by my purchase. It’s a book about a car that kills people). Murder by the Book doesn’t limit its stock to supernatural horror. They also carry detective, crime, spy, and thriller novels.
The bookstore offers store credit in exchange for used paperback mystery novels. Buying decisions are based on the store’s current needs.
3210 SE Hawthorne Portland, OR 97214. (503) 232-9995. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am-6:30pm; Sunday 11am-5pm.
In Other Words Feminist Community Center
When I was completing my master’s degree at Portland State University, several of my professors ordered required books from In Other Words instead of the University bookstore. The bookstore has expanded since then to include room for frequent yoga classes, a feminist film discussion group, and several discussion groups focusing on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues. In case your are wondering, In Other Words is the inspiration for the feminist bookstore in the IFC TV show “Portlandia.”
14 Killingsworth St Portland, OR 97211. (503) 232-6003. Hours: Monday-Friday, 10am-9pm; Saturday & Sunday, Noon-6pm.
New Renaissance Bookshop
Located in Northwest Portland, New Renaissance Bookshop features titles focusing on spirituality and wellbeing. The store hosts frequent workshops on yoga, pilates, and meditation as well as more specialized classes including: reincarnation and Tibetan Energy and Healing. Numerology, tarot, and astrology readings are available.
1338 NW 23rd Ave Portland, OR 97210. (503) 224-4929. Hours: Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 10am-9pm; Friday, 10am-9:30pm; Sunday, 10am-6pm.
Annie Bloom’s Books
I was drawn to Annie Bloom’s Books in Multnomah Village by its cozy, neighborhood charm. The word cozy does not imply small in this case, as Annie Bloom’s has a huge selection of fiction, travel, and children’s books. The staff at Annie Bloom’s are friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and they will be happy to order a book for you if the store doesn’t have it in stock. Be sure to check out their current sales on your next visit.
7834 SW Capitol Hwy Portland, OR 97219. (503) 246-0053. Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 9am-9pm.
Powell’s City of Books
Every Portland bibliophile has been to Powell’s. When I tell someone I’ve lived in Portland, they almost always mention Powell’s. If for some reason you haven’t been to Powell’s before, be sure to pick up a map of the store on your way in. Powell’s organizes their books by color-coded rooms, and the map will explain the color system. There are also plenty of staff willing to point you in the right direction. If you’ve been shopping at Powell’s for years but hate trying to get to its Burnside location, here’s a helpful tip. You can order books on their website and have them delivered, free of charge, to any Powell’s location.
1005 W Burnside Portland, OR 97209. (503) 228-4651. Hours: 9am-11pm, Daily.