I was in Portland last week visiting Eva and Jim who happen to live just a few blocks from Powell’s, the ultimate in bookstores, known for good reason as the “City of Books.” Room after room of books–new and used together, the feature I love most–encompassing a full city block (68,000 square feet) and that’s just the main location; there are several others around town. The Blue Room (literature) is where I head with my list, but I’m overwhelmed–it’s like Santa’s workshop to a kid, Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village to a mouse. I roam up and down the aisles, reading titles, plucking them off the shelf to fondle covers and leaf through pages, making notes.
I limit myself to three books–the new Paul Auster for Don’s birthday, a collection of Margaret Drabble’s stories, a 1926 novel by Sylvia Townsend Warner–and a couple of literary journals, which can no longer be found in San Diego. Judy Reeves says of Portland: “Envy their bookstores. Don’t envy their weather,” but I don’t know: what’s wrong with a little rain, ok a lot of rain, if you have enough books to read?