Book Lovers’ Heaven

After Sirens Con, a big group of us went to Powell’s Books in Portland, which turned out to be heaven on earth. I’d never been before, and it was so hyped that I just couldn’t conceive of what it would be like. And then…


It was freaking awesome. I didn’t actually manage to take any photos in the store (the first time, anyway—we’ll get to that!) because I was running around going, “Look at this! Nooo, look at this! I have to buy this! No, I need to buy THIS.”


Brian's books!
Brian’s books!

I had a list, you see. Every time someone mentioned a book that sounded interesting, I wrote it down in a little notebook I carry just for random book recommendations, sudden plot ideas, and spontaneous note-taking. The list was… well, it was long. Especially when I told my husband that I wanted to start venturing into sci-fi (specifically sci-fi written by women or with female main characters) and the list suddenly doubled.

It got longer when it occurred to me that Powell’s would probably have a giant manga section (which it did, incidentally). If I’d thought to add cookbooks, historical biographies, or knitting books, the list probably would have been long enough to make Christmas tinsel out of.

My head just about exploded from excitement.

Our group swarmed the sci-fi/fantasy section, making recommendations, searching for used copies of books several of us wanted, generally having a righteous book party. It was, no joke, one of the coolest afternoons of my life.

Emmie's purchases. See mine below!
Emmie’s books!

For our first round of purchases, Spouse and I kept it under control. Ish. We bought mostly used books, we (almost) kept it to things we knew we wanted and wouldn’t find elsewhere, like odd manga or used paperbacks, and we tried to limit our purchases so the shipping cost wouldn’t double the total money spent. I culled a few titles I knew I could get elsewhere, and that was it.

We checked out, we gave the nice clerk our address, and we told our books farewell, knowing we’d meet again in Indiana. But then… I felt oddly bereft. I wanted to cuddle and caress my new books, to bond with new characters, to fall in love with new writers. I had a new book idea, and I wanted to read some sci-fi IMMEDIATELY, not X-number of days after we got home.

On our final day in Portland, we just magically happened to be near Powells again. (Totally an accident, by the way. Yeah. *shifty eyes*) And look what happened:

Oops. These books just crawled into my basket!
Oops. These books just crawled into my basket!

We didn’t ship these. In fact, we may have had to rearrange our suitcase twice to get these (and the others we bought that day) into our luggage without resorting to another checked bag. Cordelia’s Honor actually made it into my carry-on, and when I fell asleep on the plane, Spouse was rude enough to tug it out of my unconscious grip and spend a 45 minutes reading MY book. The nerve.

My souvenirs from Portland were almost all books, and I have no regrets. To spend an afternoon with other writers and book lovers, talking books, holding books, sniffing books, loving books, was to spend a tiny part of my mortal life in heaven. Look at all the adventures we’ll now share, all the discussions we’ll have about all these titles. Look at all these huge worlds and wonderful people, flattened on the page but alive in our imaginations.

Look at my heavens.

The books that made it home with me.
The books that made it home with me.

3 thoughts on “Book Lovers’ Heaven

  1. livrancourt

    Whenever we go to Portland – every couple years or so – we stay at the Mark Spencer Hotel. Why? BECAUSE IT’S TWO BLOCKS FROM POWELLS.

    The whole family supports this idea. Do we need another reason?

    I’m glad you had fun, though knowing that the whole gang spent an afternoon at my favorite bookstore on the planet makes me even sorrier I missed Sirens.

  2. Just gotta say – ALIF THE UNSEEN! I read that earlier this year and kicked myself for not having read it sooner. Loved it.

    Also, at some point, I will move in to Powell’s, and no one will ever hear from me again.

    1. livrancourt

      Some day can we take the train to Portland and stay overnight at the Mark Spencer? We could even bring The S-Os & set them up in a pub to talk music while we hit the bookstore. So…much…fun…

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