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My Bookish Weekend in Portland, Oregon

A long time ago I had visions of a book blogger retreat in Portland, Oregon. Those plans never panned out (but have instead morphed into a book blogger convention to take place either right before or right after Book Expo America in New York in May 2010), but since I still wanted to visit Portland, I planned to go up there and have a fun weekend with other book bloggers.

The weekend was more fun than I can even tell you.


From left to right: Suzi from Whimpulsive, Gabe from Reading Local, Wendy from Caribousmom, Gilion from Rose City Reader, Ali from Worducopia, Kristen from We Be Reading, Teddy from So Many precious Books, So Little Time, Bethany (in front) from Dreadlock Girl, and Trish (ME!).

So the nine of us decided to have the BEST. WEEKEND. EVAR. Okay, maybe we didn’t say that in our emails, but that’s how it turned out. At least for me.

We met on Friday night at McMenamins Ringlers Pub in downtown Portland. I was nervous because the only person I actually knew in person was Wendy from Caribousmom. Everyone was really nice and we talked about…wait for it…wait for it…blogging. Betcha couldn’t guess that, couldya?

So I insisted that Bethany stay with me (I pay things forward! Hi, Jenn!) and I knew thought I would love her AND OH MY GOD if I lived near her I would INSIST we be best friends.

Side story that relates to the whole weekend: I guess I should tell you that I love donuts. I love donuts with a passion. I used to eat three donuts for breakfast (and would wash them down with a cold Pepsi) at least once a week if not 2-4 times a week. Also, I can’t just eat any donut. Having eaten that many donuts, I can pretty much tell the good from the bad just by looking at them.

Bethany and I met Teddy and her husband on Saturday morningย at SweetPea, a vegan bakery. I’m not a vegan, but SweetPea has fresh donuts Saturday mornings and WHO AM I TO PASS UP FRESH DONUTS? They were still warm. They were pretty good, but they *were* vegan, and while I’m trying to be healthier and live a greener lifestyle, I still like my fried dough to have eggs and butter. I was definitely out of my element, and I think my eyes got as wide as saucers when I ordered a latte and the girl said, “Do you want soy, almond, or rice milk?” I’m just glad I didn’t blurt out, “You mean you don’t have REAL milk?”

Our first appointment was at Powell’s for a private tour. Holy books! I think there is a heaven for book lovers and it is called Powell’s. Here’s some facts about Powell’s:

  • Powell’s was established 38 years ago by Walter Powell.
  • He decided that instead of separating new and used books, he would put them all together.
  • It only took him a year and a half before he had to move to a different location, which is where they are now located.
  • Powell’s has 27 used book buyers.
  • There are 9 “rooms” at Powell’s. Each room has a specific kind of book. For example, the blue room has fiction, and there’s a green room, an orange room, etc.
  • Powell’s used to be four stories tall, but it’s currently only two stories. They plan on tearing down the green and blue room and using that space to build a three story building.
  • They can fit 350 people in the room where they have author events.
  • Per week, 35,000 books are bought at the main Powell’s location, and the same amount of books are being purchased online.
  • 1 MILLION books sit on Powell’s shelves.
  • Powell’s employs about 190 people just in their main location.

There’s a really cool pillar outside one of the entrances to Powell’s.

Powells pillar

powells pillar2

The employees helped pick which books would appear on the pillar. The title of each book is written in the language in which the book was written. The books chosen were what the employees considered to be the best books of all time. They are:

  • Moby Dick
  • Hamlet
  • War & Peace
  • Mahabharata
  • 1,000 Nights & a Night
  • Tao te Ching
  • The Odyssey
  • Psalms

powells pillar about

The bottom of the pillar, the four sides, say in Latin, Buy the Book, Read the Book, Enjoy the Book, Sell the Book.

Our tour guide showed use Powell’s rare book room, which was really cool. We got to see this old book from (I believe) 1814 that still had the map attached. It’s a book about the Lewis & Clark expedition.

rare book

We got to see a book with fore edge painting.

See how it looks like a regular book?

fore edge5

Now look at the edges when someone fans them out:

fore edge6

fore edge

fore edge2

fore edge4

Cool, huh?

Unfortunately, we only had about an hour between our tour at Powell’s and our tour of the rare book room at the Portland library, so I didn’t get to browse the books at Powell’s as much as I would have liked. That’s probably a good thing, though, since I *shouldn’t* be bringing more books into my house.

I thought the tour of the Multnomah County Library’s rare books collection would probably be cool but now BLOW-MY-MIND-and-leave-me-wanting-more cool. Jim Carmin was the best kind of host: nice, funny, enthusiastic, and totally cool. And how could he know that I love Geek Love and Katherine Dunn? He couldn’t, and yet he brought out a rare copy of Geek Love that has a cover that was illustrated by a friend of Katherine Dunn. Bethany was kind enough to take a picture of me holding the book, so here I am geeking out:

trish and geek love

trish and geek love2

Needless to say, Jim had my devotion after showing us this rare copy of Geek Love.

The only complaint I have is that our time with Jim just wasn’t long enough. If I ever go back to Portland, I will be sure to schedule an appointment with Jim so we can geek out over all the cool books residing at Portland’s library.

After seeing all these cool books, we got to talk more about books with Molly Gloss. It’s so rare to get to sit and chat with an author and ask all the questions you ever wanted to know! We talked to her for almost an hour and a half, and she’s really piqued my curiosity in her works. I plan on reading The Hearts of Horses and The Dazzle of Day.You can see a picture of all us bloggers with Molly Gloss over at Teddy’s blog.

After talking to Molly Gloss, most people had to break off and go do their own thing, so Bethany and I went back to Powell’s, browsed a little bit, then went out to dinner where we talked and talked and talked. The food was only so-so, but I absolutely loved talking with her and only wish we lived closer. You know how you sometimes meet someone, and you think, “How could I have gone through life and NOT KNOWN THIS PERSON? My life is so much RICHER by knowing this person.” That’s how I felt with Bethany.

So the trip was FANtastic. But I was determined to go to Voodoo Doughnut for breakfast on Sunday before I had to catch my plane. I left my hotel at around 6:30am so I would have plenty of time to get my donuts and still catch my plane. When I finally found Voodoo Doughnut, I was like ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME. The place is a tiny hole-in-the-wall, and supposedly their donuts are really good…SO good that they’re able to stay open 24 hours. So I go in and basically all it is is a counter and space for about 5 people. More than five people and it would be crowded. And there was a rotating display case that showcased their donuts and I was like, Gross, I’m getting donuts that aren’t even FRESH! GAH! So I order my donuts, and instead of pulling them out of the display case, the lady pulls them off of the racks used to transport mass quantities of baked goods. This is a good sign, I thought. I waited until I got through the airport and to my boarding gate before I ventured into what would be awesomeness or grossness. I even picked up a cold Pepsi along the way. I needn’t have worried. My maple bar and raised glazed were the best donuts I’ve had in a long time. I licked my fingers and promised myself that Voodoo donuts are the only donuts I will eat if I’m ever in Portland again.

Check out these other recaps:

Reading Local: Portland

We Be Reading


So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Dreadlock Girl

| Tags: 31 comments »

31 Responses to “My Bookish Weekend in Portland, Oregon”

  1. Michelle

    Looks like you had a really great time! I am glad you were able to go and meet other bloggers. Sounds fun!


  2. rhapsodyinbooks

    What great fun those pictures are! When we went to Portland last year, I made my husband take me to VooDoo Donuts. We went to the bigger suburban one and we were the only ones in there! I couldn’t believe it! Portland is a great place for food AND books!


  3. rhapsodyinbooks

    P.S. I also had my husband drive me down to Gathering Together Farm’s bakery in Philomath, Oregon because they supposedly had the best potato doughnuts anywhere. …just do you don’t feel alone in your quest for the best doughnuts! (But I wouldn’t do the wash-down-with-Pepsi thing!)


  4. Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy)

    Oh, that sounds like such a fun weekend! Those photos are great – thanks for posting and allowing us to put names to some of our favorite bloggers! And you reminded me that a former co-worker of mine insisted that I must read Geek Love (which I have yet to do …)


  5. Virginia C

    This is a great post! I love Powell’s! I’m glad that everyone had such a good time. Did the “Voodoo” doughnuts cast a spell? Feeling any different? Any strange new occurences or food cravings? Do you have another book blogger weekend planned?


    trish Reply:

    Virginia, no other book blogger weekends, but those of us going to the National Book Festival and/or the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of September will be meeting up. Should be fun! ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. diane

    Very nice pictures.I’m glad everyone had such a great time.


  7. Kathy

    You are everywhere these days! I know y’all had a blast and I wish I could have been there.


  8. Kristen M.

    It was so fun meeting you and everyone else! I’m glad I decided to take a break from being a hermit for a weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚ I missed out on the donuts but I will definitely be going back for Powell’s more often now so I will get to the donuts (not the vegan ones).

    I can’t wait until we meet up again!


  9. J.T. Oldfield

    Oh, I should have driven down from Seattle…see you in NYC ๐Ÿ˜‰


  10. Beth F

    Wow!! Super!!! I haven’t been to Portland since the 1970s, but I plan to be back in SUmmer of 2010. I see a trip to Powell’s!


  11. Meghan

    It looks like you had so much fun! I can’t wait to meet everyone at BEA 2010.

    I love when meeting someone from the internet feels like you’ve known them forever! I have had a couple of those and I’m even engaged to one of them. ๐Ÿ˜€


  12. Alyce

    I’m glad to hear that you had such a great time! I was totally bummed that I couldn’t go. After all of the craziness trying to see if I could come, I realized that when you changed the date my husband and I had purchased tickets for the Shakespeare Festival for that weekend way back in the spring, so I wouldn’t have been able to attend anyway.

    I get to hang out with Bethany at book club once a month and you’re right – she’s very fun to be around. It makes me wish that all of us book bloggers were not so spread out geographically. I’m sure most of us would end up being really good friends IRL.


  13. Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books

    It does sound like the best weekend (evah!)

    Meeting and spending time with all those other bloggers?!? A private tour at Powell’s?!? Plus a tour of the library?!? Plus donuts!?


  14. Monica

    Sounds like lots of fun! You should totally come to Vancouver BC sometime!! I love that fore edge painting!


  15. Melissa B.

    Good times! I’m glad you got to swing by Powell’s…it’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? BTW, my review is done and ready to roll. See you tomorrow?


  16. Jennifer

    I’m glad that you had such a wonderful time in Portland, it sounds like a really wonderful trip. I checked out the site for Powell’s books after your great description of the place. I hope I’ll be buying some books from them in the future. I also loved to hear about your friendships – it’s great to know that the people that you meet online through blogs can become your friends in real life, especially since they are so great and often share your interest and passions. Great post. I hope that in the future, I’ll be able to participate in something like this. Right now, I’m way too low on funds, but hopefully my bank account will fill up soon enough so that I can plan for something awesome like this.


  17. Wendy

    Trying to catch up on my 1000+ unread blog posts!!!! Great re-cap, Trish…this was such a fun time (and I agree….Bethany is way cool :))


  18. mortimus clay

    Powell’s looks really interesting. Great concept. If I ever get to Portland I’ll have to look it up.


  19. Literary Feline

    I wish I could have joined you! Sounds like you all had a great time. I’d be in heaven in Powell’s. I’ve ordered books through them online before, and, when I had to call back to cancel a book (I accidentally ordered a duplicate), the person I talked to was so nice and personable. I ended up buying an extra book just because.


  20. bybee

    Okay…I have a new favorite US city


  21. Michelle

    This is an amazng post, Trish. I read and loved every word about your fantastic trip to Portland. So glad that you had a great time!

    All the best,


  22. jennygirl

    What a fantastic weekend?! Thank you for sharing your experience and glad you had such a great time.


  23. Luanne

    Wow! What a great weekend and a great post. It’s so great you got to meet up! jealous……


  24. Jenn's Bookshelves

    I’m so glad you all had a great time but I’m also so jealous I couldn’t make it. I absolutely LOVE Powells. It’s a book-lover’s heaven!


  25. Stephanie

    Seems like you had a great time! I won’t lie, I’m more than a little jealous. Not only am I dying to go to Powells, but I have a major soft spot for donuts too.


  26. bethany (Dreadlock Girl)

    The think I thought when I met you was, ” Man, am I sure I don’t already know this crazy lady?” It was just so easy to talk to you and hang that it really did feel like I had known you from a long time before. And yes, if we lived closer we would certainly have to be chillin’ together.

    Maybe someday friend!!!


  27. S. Krishna

    This looks like SO MUCH FUN! Jealous!!! ๐Ÿ™‚


  28. Teddy

    It was such a pleasure meeting you Trish! I hope we can do it again!

    Sorry you didn`t enjoy the doughnuts at Sweet Pea as much as Bill and I did but I`m glad that you and Bethany joined anyway. I know, we are crazy vegans. LOL!


  29. Let’s do it all again! by Raych of Books I Done Read | Book Blogger Appreciation Week

    […] except meโ€™ *cries into Cheerios*), like at BEA and the LA Times Festival of Books and in Oregon and Utah.  And everyone who wasnโ€™t meeting IRL at these things was meeting to #tweetsulk […]

  30. Julie@my5monkeys ()

    that sounds like a blast to meet other bloggers and Powell’s sounds amazing. I will have to remember that when I go up there to Oregon again.


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