Taste in used bookstores is as individual as a reader’s taste in books. In my hometown, there were three. One had so many books the owner had given up on organizing it. You couldn’t find anything except by accident. At another, the owner would argue with you about books. The third closed because no one would buy the owner’s cigarette smoke-infused books. (Another store popped up right before I moved away.) Finding one that fits what you want is tough.
Ever since I heard about Powell’s, a city block sized store (bigger now), I put it on my booky bucket list. Thanks to a library conference, I got the chance to go. I spent two glorious hours wandering around the collections over three floors. When I found the fiction, I was overwhelmed. Rows and rows of novels, seven feet high! It was too much to take in. My to-read list went tight out of my head. It was wonderful. And then I found the science fiction/fantasy section and geeked out all over again.
|My haul from Powell’s|
Being able to find the book you’re looking for and being able to stumble on a book serendipitously in the same place was wonderful. And the Rare Books room was a joy. I got to see a first edition of The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss, and a 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. The best was a volume of Richard Francis Burton‘s narrative of his trips to Medina and Mecca. It was inscribed by Isabel Burton herself!
If I ever get back to Portland, I’m going to have to go again. Seriously, it’s the Valhalla of bookstores.