Powell's bookstore

Literary City Spotlight: Portland Edition

Portland weaves together the beauty and peacefulness of nature, as well as a vibrant and bustling city scene. This makes it an ideal destination for writers, who can go from hiking in gorgeous forests to taking in the iconic works of art at the Portland Art Museum all on the same day. Along with its varied sources of inspiration, Portland offers many literary sites—including the largest independent bookstore in the world. If you’re planning a trip to the home of beloved writers like Marilyn Chin, Emily Kendal Frey, and Ursula K. Le Guin, put these can’t-miss spots on your list. 


Mother Foucault’s Bookshop

523 S.E. Morrison St.


Mother Foucault’s, located in Portland’s southeast industrial district, is known for its eclectic and diverse selection, with a focus on poetry, foreign language, philosophy, and visual arts. The shop also counts among the best places in Portland to enjoy a reading or author visit, with these events happening almost every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. When Mother Foucault’s isn’t hosting a talented and thought-provoking author, they also invite musicians to perform. 


Powell’s City of Books

1005 W. Burnside St. 


The original Powell’s location, Powell’s City of Books, holds the title of largest independent and consignment bookstore in the world. It continually tops lists of the best bookstores in the United States. Located downtown, the all-encompassing destination boasts nine color-coded rooms and more than 3,500 sections, making it a place to discover unique titles and flip through pages for hours. 


Montgomery Rare Books

1507 N.W. 23rd Ave.


As its name suggests, Montgomery Rare Books specializes in antique and historical books. Avid collectors will appreciate this uncommon shop, where they’re likely to spot books signed by U.S. presidents, texts hailing from the women’s suffrage movement, and original editions from beloved Beat poets


Rose City Book Pub

1329 N.E. Fremont St.


Rose City Book Pub describes itself as a “place to gather,” and they make this easy with a large selection of books, wine, craft beers, and snacks. Visitors can indulge in good reads and a variety of menu items in the pub’s sunny and cozy reading nooks. In addition to this relaxing solo time, Rose City Book Pub is also a place for events and community, including live music, trivia nights, poetry readings, and writing workshops.


Ace Typewriter & Equipment

7433 N. Lombard St.


In business since 1961, Ace Typewriter & Equipment sells vintage and new typewriters from a frequently rotating, whimsical inventory, as well as ink ribbons. The store also repairs typewriters and offers continuing education in how to use and maintain typewriters. 


Independent Publishing Resource Center

318 S.E. Main St.


The Independent Publishing Resource Center has everything poets need to write and create their own books. The space has a digital lab, where writers can access Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, as well as copiers and paper finishing tools. There are also areas devoted to letterpress, screenprinting, and risograph, making The Independent Publishing Resource Center a destination for learning age-old literary crafts. The center also hosts a variety of art and writing workshops.


Wanting to explore more literary cities? Check out our guides to Detroit and Milwaukee.