And Portland does, overwhelmingly. The city block that is Powell’s City of Books, says it all. A day spent within the walls of this building whether you’re reading, purusing or just browsing through the seemingly infinite shelves is a day well spent.
Even the county library manages to keep its head above water as people grow less inclined to read a book in all of it’s hard copy glory. There is never any problem finding any one of the 18 buildings thanks to the helpful road signs pointing you in the right direction.
Considering all of this, it should come as no surprise that there are numerous independent bookstores that have earned all of the attention that it’s larger, more apparent competitors have.
So, when feeling up to a stress-free outing with some intellectual context, keep in mind the small businesses that make Portland the hub of creativity and pride that it is. Here is a list of some of the quirkiest, most charismatic and community driven independent bookstores in the city.
This is a shout out to the little guys.
2752 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
Monday – Saturday, 11 – 7 PM
Microcosm is comfortably cluttered, maintaining a fun and endlessly colorful energy about it. The store is packed wall to wall with different books, zines, t-shirts and other odds and ends.
If you’re looking to browse through a variety of zines, this is the place to shop. Outside of this impressive collection, they have smaller sections specific to topics such as activism and history or Chomsky and Jensen. You could spend hours browsing through the different categories of independent literature that Microcosm has to offer.
This is the place to go if you’re looking to educate yourself on a few social issues and appreciate the smaller community that the demographic of independent bookstores brings to the table. It’s a tiny universe of art, activism and opinion.
On top of all of this, they will send you every title that they publish in a 6 month long period (for $10-$30/month) if you subscribe as a BFF.
523 SE Morrison St
Portland, OR 97214
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 – 6 pm
There’s something to be said about a space that instantly makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon something intimate and familiar. This bookshop lacks the retail feeling of so many other stores and instead becomes more of a personal library.
Not only was the search for this store somewhat surreal but the entire experience after entering was humbly fantastical and the contrast of the street outside and the warming atmosphere felt like walking into a different universe altogether. Mother Foucault’s is a hidden treasure, tucked away amongst tattoo shops and dive bars off of a small street in SE Portland.
While it manages to remain comfortable and altogether well-kept, this bookshop maintains the feeling of a constant literature work-in-progress. It is as though, you could sit down, revel in the intellectual atmosphere and complete the next great American novel.
The beauty of bookstores like these are that there is always a chance something brilliant will be found without searching for it. The minimalist identity is what set Mother Foucault’s apart from the rest. It is a simple, down to earth spot for anyone with a desire to acquire knowledge.
14 NE Killingsworth
Portland, OR 97211
Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 7 pm
Known for their appearance on Portlandia as the feminist bookstore, Women and Women First, this particular independent storefront has gotten all of its well-deserved attention without being included on this list.
However, In Other Words is not the representation of the feminist bookstore seen on television and is definitely worth the visit to create your own impressions of it.
On top of being a bookstore, they are also a gathering place for community members that are passionate about literature, art, and educational and cultural events. They work hard to empower the feminist community in Portland with the positive influences that come from learning and growing.
Experiences at this bookshop are nothing but warm and welcoming.
Daedalus Books knows exactly what will appeal to their customers the second they walk through the door. With a variety of titles and categories all consisting of used books, the selection and quality remain impressive.
Walking down the street, in search for this particular bookstore is a guaranteed good time and it only gets better once you’re inside. Shopping at Daedalus is ensuring a good home for the books that have been cast off by previous owners and even the best finds are typically inexpensive.
There’s something refreshing about a place so charming as Daedalus.