Feb 2, 2008

A City of Books

by Christine Thackeray

I am currently co-authoring a book with my sister Dr. Marianna Richardson about C. S. Lewis. She did the first part and I did the last and then we are doing the middle together. I thought I had all my sources together when I found this wonderful quote that says "joy is the serious business of heaven." It was from Lewis' last book called "Letters to Malcolm" which he wrote shortly before his death and is esoteric to say the least. Well, I'm a real in context sort of researcher and wanted to see what came before and after that quote so that I'm not just relating the words but his true intention. But when I started looking for the book, I couldn't find it anywhere.

I did every type of internet search I could think of and came up with NOTHING! I went to all of the bookstores within a half hour drive and they didn't have it and my library didn't have it. Now I could have ordered it from Amazon but that would take time and I was hoping to get that chapter done by tomorrow. Then I remembered a radio ad that lodged in my sub-conscious while I was in the car doing errands. Something about the biggest bookstore in the world being in downtown Portland.

Well, a few clicks of the mouse and my mouth dropped open. POWELL's City of Books is in downtown Portland and it is the largest bookstore in the world (they say). With the lure of a good meal I talked my husband into taking me there on a DATE tonight!!!! By the time I got the kids fed and my daughter over to her friend's house it was after 8pm and I think my husband was hoping the store would be closed but it stays open until 11pm six nights a week. It was raining when we turned down the crowded city street and from the outside, it didn't look like much. Greg had to go around the block twice before we found a place to park and we soon walked up to the old boxy building with a neon Powell's across the front and a crowd of assorted characters milling around the front sidewalk. As we walked in, you could tell that what had once been an entire block of separate stores was now a maze of delight with elevators, and staircases leading to endless shelves of books of every kind. Used, new, collectors editions and other paraphanalia all mish-mashed together in an incredible smorgesbord of heady mental fulfillment- I was in heaven! My husband wasn't.

I began at the information desk which to my husband was my first mistake (he never asks directions.) They told me that C. S. Lewis was in the Children's section, Fantasy/SciFi and Religion, Shakespeare in Drama upstairs and my lastest Book Club selection, Thunderbolt Kid, in new releases. I literally danced through the aisles. They did have "Letters to Malcolm" (I got the last copy) and the Collected Letters of Lewis AND an incredible anthology AND George MacDonald's Princess series that inspired the Narnia series AND an awesome Shakespeare book that reviews archetypes and... and...

So I left with a pile of books over my head and my husband pooped out in the SciFi section and told me to find him when I was done. I did and he helped me haul my stash to the checkout. As the cashier ran the books through I noticed one that I hadn't chosen. I assumed I had picked it up by mistake when my husband stepped in. "No, that's mine." I picked up it up and looked at the cover. It was an instruction manual on how to fight off Zombies. Now I want to know who is the bigger Zombie, him or me? Well, it doesn't really matter because I know how I'm going to spend the next week- reading!!!!


  1. Ah, Christine! You had me ROFLOL...and my hubby enjoyed your post as well. Powell's sounds like a wonderland! Love the Zombie twist...Thanks for the smiles!

  2. Now I'm going to have to find time to go to Portland sometime before I die - just so I can go to powells. I love bookstores, and never leave with only one book.

  3. I've heard of Powell's on the radio, but always just imagined it as a website, like Amazon. Thanks for sharing that cool description of the store! Sounds like bookstore-heaven! (LOL at your husband's book selection, though.)


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