So we moved to Portland, Oregon not long ago, but I still haven’t explored all the area has to offer yet. Sadly, independent bookstores have taken a back-burner until recently — I’ve spent my time at Powell’s which is sort of indie… in the sense that they’re locally owned and are amazing at bringing in speakers and hosting events. But they’re still pretty large and semi-corporate.
I started doing a search for local small bookstores and visiting them, hoping to find one half as good as BookMarx (formerly Book Castle), that I could claim as “mine” and visit an annoying amount. Among the candidates I found was Longfellows, which will be its own post one day. Not a place my lungs can spend too much time in, but man, that will be the first place I will go for anything leatherbound, hard to find, first edition…. Went to another couple nice, but bland places. Then came across Another Read Through.
First, it’s set back in a gentrified but fun area of Portland’s Mississippi Ave, and sadly I’ve missed discovering it every time I’ve been on that road! So when it came up on Google Maps, I did a double-take — there’s a bookstore there?! But as soon as I walked in, I fell in love.
It’s small, but it’s stocked full of bookshelves boasting all genre. New and used. And the setup, cleanliness, layout, is all very welcoming. They have an upstairs for their mystery books, but also a reading lounge and honor-bar coffee cart. Very comfy!
One of the things that jumped out at me is they have one of the best queer lit and non-fiction section I’ve seen of any small bookstore. I love that they have that. And also, a pretty large selection of local and independent authors. That certainly jumped out to me.
My biggest (unintentional) test of if I’d like the place came as I browsed for sci-fi/fantasy books. A very decent selection of used books… but, sadly, not much that I was looking for, a lot of the kinds of books you’d have gotten from a SF book club in the 80s or will find in yard sales, and that made me a little sad. But when I asked the proprietor for some authors, she recognized each and every one: Octavia Butler, Samuel Delaney, N.K. Jemisin, and a couple others…. Now, I know, to those of us who know SF as a field, will recognize those names, as well as many people who are interested in authors who inhabit places of non-privilege. Fortunately, I have my friends and peers who are familiar with both. but you’d be surprised how many booksellers have no idea who Octavia Butler or even Samuel Delaney are. So even though the store didn’t carry anything by them at that moment, the fact the proprietor knew them was a huge plus for me.
But not only that, she went out of her way and found and suggested a story anthology that included Butler and Nalo Hopkins and Ursula K. LeGuin and Vandana Singh and others, edited by favorite editors of mine (after Ellen Datlow), Ann and Jeff Vandermeer.
So, after another enjoyable visit, I went back recently and asked about carrying my books. Long story short, they’re sitting on their shelves now. And that makes me so happy! My new favorite bookstore has my books.
But that’s certainly not the reason to go visit them if you’re in the Portland area! (Although, you know, if you did want to go there to buy my book, who am I to stop you?) There big enough, friendly and helpful, and support local and indie authors… what could be better in a local bookstore?! http://www.anotherreadthrough.com
Their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnotherReadThrough