PortlandNeighborhood.com

Welcome to YOUR Portland Neighborhood Community

I'm sitting in a library in Portland, Oregon.

Actually I'm sitting in Ledding Library, which is in Milwaukie.  I live in Milwaukie too, but I live so close to the line that if you address a letter to me you can write either Milwaukie or Portland on the envelope and the letter will reach me.  I'm thinking the founding fathers (and mothers, if applicable) of “The Dogwood City of the West” (birthplace of the Bing cherry!) might wax peevish about that, but I'm assuming none are around to ask.

(That blurry effect?  Totally did it on purpose.  Sure I did.)

I love libraries. I love the relative hush of them (I say 'relative', because is it just here, or have people everywhere abandoned the habit of whispering in libraries? In my youth you ran the risk of having your gob smacked with the nearest periodical for talking at volume, yet some of the biggest moufs to be found these days belong to library staff!).  I love to stroll the stacks in search of nothing specific and just let serendipity lead me to my choices, perhaps relaxing in a comfy chair afterward if I have time and no schedule to mind.  Ledding Library is a quite nice place to hang, and if you want to take a break from your quaint and curious volumes, or you've roused from your nap (as is the case with the guy sitting by the window behind me), you may pause to step out to feed the ducks over by the sign that demands you not feed the ducks.

THE library is the Central Library in downtown Portland.  A grand, echo-y building that is, a place that demands studiousness and shutting the Hell up.  Wander those stacks with reverence, work those thighs and calves to explore every floor, every shelf.  Maybe it's just me, but I think libraries like this one should be approached as one would a church.  You don't play hide-and-seek in a church, now do you? Well, this is Portland, so perhaps some people do. Of course some people do.

Now, a personal opinion: Bookstores shouldn't be like libraries.

Libraries are about preserving, archiving, sharing.  Bookstores are about commerce, selling the written (and these days the spoken) word, and all the wares associated with it.  New glossy covers, and posters of the movies made from, or at least “inspired by”, popular novels, and coffee cups, and t-shirts, and all manner of kuh-nick kuh-nacks featuring titles and artwork of said popular novels.  Bookstores should have the atmosphere of the bazaar, you should expect to see a fez here and there.

You aren't going to find that atmosphere at a mall bookstore.  How weird is that?  The mall bookstores I've visited are meek little stalls with chin-high prissy-neat little shelves and one counter behind which bored glum cashiers dwell.  Bah.  Go instead to Powell's City of BooksThat's a bookstore,  one whole city block of a bookstore!  Serious, girthsome bookshelves, the top tiers of which threaten nosebleeds. Busy and sometimes cranky staff (watch out for that guy stationed near the Bibles!).  Waves of book seekers surging through the aisles, creating hipster eddies and scholarly undertows.  I was trapped in an aisle for twenty minutes once, when a herd of sci-fi fans sealed both ends.  I survived by keeping my hands at my sides and averting my eyes from any new titles, lest I be perceived as a threat.

One of the best things about Powell's is the many many well-loved, lived-in books.  Yeah, the shiny new ones are there and prominently displayed, but those volumes and tomes haven't lived lives in other hands.  I dig finding notes in the margins, the passages that engaged a prior reader so much that he or she painted them with Hi-Liter, the bindings and covers softened by time and attention.  This is a bit odd, given that I tend to treat my own books as if they'll detonate at the least crease.  Perhaps it's because I value the culture of reading even more than the books themselves, and the readers who loved a book and sent it off to live with others who love them too.

I may own an e-reader one day. I may have to. I doubt I'll love it.

Views: 165

Comment

You need to be a member of PortlandNeighborhood.com to add comments!

Join PortlandNeighborhood.com

Comment by Rob Creighton Garrison on April 21, 2012 at 11:08am

June, I must confess that the photo of Powell's was borrowed from Wikipedia.  I try to use my own camera whenever possible, but sometimes I just can't get the shot I want due to ambient conditions and/or ineptitude.  The Wikipedia photo is offered under a free-to-share license, so I used it as an expedient. 

Lorri and June, thanks for reading.  :o)

Comment by Lorri E. on April 20, 2012 at 5:08pm

I need to get to Powell's again soon.  Thanks for the reminder. :-)

Latest Activity

Elisabeth Allie posted an event
Thumbnail

Holiday Wine Sale: 12 for $12 at Pairings Portland Wine Shop & Bar

September 28, 2018 at 12pm to September 30, 2018 at 6pm
Come stock up on delicious wine for the holidays! Here's how it works:• 12 handpicked wines all selling for $12 a bottle• $12 to taste all 12 wines• 12% off EVERY BOTTLE on our shelves• BONUS GIFT: Two tickets to a Food & Wine Pairing Class when you buy 12+ bottlesJoin us:Friday Sept 28--12 to 10 pmSaturday Sept 29--12 to 10 pmSunday Sept 30--12-6 pmSee More
Wednesday
Karin Kaufmann shared their event on Facebook
Sep 13
Karin Kaufmann posted an event
Thumbnail

Artistic Portland introduces “Art After Dark” at First Thursday Gallery Art Walk in October 2018 at Artistic Portland

October 4, 2018 from 2pm to 9pm
Artistic Portland, a downtown co-operative gallery of 40 local artists, will open its doors for “Art After Dark,” from 6:30 to 9:00 pm, on October 4, 2018.  The evening of music, wine, food and art will give the public a chance to meet many of the artists behind the creative work at the gallery. Husband and wife duo The Sweet Peas will play from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, and everyone is welcome to the free event. This summer Artistic Portland celebrated its five-year anniversary at 318 SW Taylor Street,…See More
Sep 13
Lea McWhorter posted an event
Thumbnail

Sophisticated Beads Holiday Jewelry Show at Monarch Hotel & Conference Center

November 17, 2018 from 10am to 5pm
Homemade refreshments, holiday beverages, prizes and stress free shopping all in one location!Our designs are handcrafted with a vibrant assortment of semi-precious stones accented with Austrian Swarovski crystals, pearls and sterling silver. We design with unique gemstones to create wonderful women’s jewelry that can be worn for a special occasion or every day.Beads On a Mission are two of our jewelry lines that include bracelets in which 10% of the proceeds go to five cancer foundations and…See More
Sep 7
Karin Kaufmann posted an event
Thumbnail

Artistic Portland Celebrates the Gorgeous Gorge at First Thursday Art Walk on September 6, 2018 at Artistic Portland

September 6, 2018 from 2pm to 6pm
The Art Co-operative will honor the gorgeous Columbia Gorge at the First Thursday Art Walk between 4-6 p.m. on September 6, 2018.  The 50-foot frontage windows will artfully play on the mighty Columbia River that helped formed the region.  Many of the 40 member artists will be present to talk about their latest works and will again encourage visitors to express their own creativity for free by painting a ceramic bisque-fired bowl.  The very popular Community Bowl Project is sponsored by…See More
Aug 7
Michael Cavazos posted events
Aug 1
Mary Keith Agnew posted an event
Thumbnail

Oregon State Fair at Oregon State Fair

August 24, 2018 to September 3, 2018
The Oregon State Fair is back for its 153rd year, with 10 days of traditional family fun! Favorite attractions are back — street performers, horse competitions, games, carnival rides, and music. Enjoy more modern offerings such as dog-agility shows and even robots. The Fair is the perfect grand finale to the summer!See More
Aug 1
Vine and Dine posted an event

Multnomah Village Vine & Dine 2018 at Multnomah Village Arts Center - Lower Lot

August 19, 2018 from 1pm to 6pm
Join us for Multnomah Village's Sixth Annual Northwest Wine and Food Festival!Over 25 superb NW wine and food stars will provide an afternoon of wine tastings paired with sweet & savory bites.Guests will taste wines and chat with our local winemakers and chefs. Purchase bottles of the wines you love to go!VIP Tickets are available, providing early entry, access to special wines, and one-one-one time with makers of some of the most stunning wines in the Northwest.100% of the proceeds from…See More
Jul 23

Badge

Loading…

Powell's Books Picks

© 2018   Created by Lorri E..   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service