Home again, home again.

April 14, 2009 at 7:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I’ve recently returned home from a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon.  I quite enjoy Portland.  The city is clean, pretty friendly, and I feel comfortable there.  For me, one of the biggest draws is Powell’s City of Books.

There are actually several locations of Powell’s, but the main one covers a Portland city block.  I love a store that makes maps available for shoppers.  This latest trip also saw me being the recipient of an “I got lost in Powell’s books” sticker.  If you are a book lover at all, you should enjoy Powell’s.  Although it can be a bit overwhelming at first.  If you need to take a break, there’s a convenient coffee shop in the store.  Powell’s grew out of a small used-book store.   You can see this heritage in the plywood shelves in some rooms and the large number of used books that are for sale.  The best part is that used and new books are shelved together.  I love this system.  As much as I enjoy the discovery of an author that is new to me, sometimes I find it difficult to take a $10 risk.  Considering the volume of books that I buy when I visit Powell’s (good thing I don’t live in Portland!) that could really add up.  I do buy new books as well, so don’t worry that I’m cheating an author out of a royalty or two.

Looking back on the few posts I’ve made, it is starting to look like I only read books that are well reviewed or of redeeming social value.  (Sidebar: I once met a man who told me that he only read Booker or other prize winning novels.  While I applaud that he read novels at all, how limiting is that?)  Not true.  I am as fond of what I like to call literary cotton candy as much as the next person.  You know what I mean?  No nutritional value, but kind of fun once in a while?  I just finished a wee book that at first glance looked like it might be one of these: The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar.  A staff note under the Neil Gaiman books at Powell’s suggested I might like Millar’s work.  And Gaiman had written the forward, so I was happy to try it out.  The back suggested a silly, fantasy romp about drunken fairies getting lost after a magic mushroom binge and ending up in New York.  Which was true.  However, it also turned out to be a somewhat Swiftian social satire about the lack of health insurance for the average American, the dangers of reckless expansionism, and the plight of the homeless.  A morality story wrapped in cotton candy.  Fun book, though.  And thought provoking.  Thanks nameless Powell’s staff for the recommendation!

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