Oregon is for Writers
Oregon has the perfect recipe for a writer’s haven. Maybe it’s the combination of inspiring stormy skies, rocky coastline and high desert air–plus a profusion of word-obsessed types that live and flock here–that gets the creative juices flowing. A community of thriving, independent bookstores, acclaimed authors and a signature festival (Wordstock!) celebrates the literary life. Whether you’re a book lover, story teller or writer, Oregon has a tale for you.
In this age of e-readers, iPads and blogs, a book can seem almost archaic. But wander into one of Oregon’s many independent bookstores and you’ll see why these charming shops are imperative to our modern literary culture. A stroll through Portland’s Powell’s Books alone, with its nine color-coded rooms housing tomes on everything from fiction to food, bicycles to bison, art history to agriculture, and with patrons of all ages and all interests, prove the bookstore is anything but dated. Powell’s definitely put Portland on the map but the city is also home to shops like A Children’s Place and Annie Bloom’s books, which have both been serving locals and visitors for over thirty years (the former caters specifically to the young ones).
In Pendleton in Eastern Oregon, visitors can spend hours perusing the shelves at Pendleton Book Co. and antique book dealers will delight at the selection at Word Storm Books.
You’ll always find a college student or two at Smith Family Bookstore in Eugene. It’s one of the oldest bookshops in the Willamette Valley and they continually diversify their collection by buying used books. And across the way in Springfield, Thurston Book Exchange also sells gently used books for readers on a budget.
Go south and you’ll find over 20,000 titles at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland with an extensive section on Shakespeare and theater, of course. Medford’s Village Books has a highly knowledgeable staff that can direct you to any book and the not-for-profit Rogue Book Exchange unites unwanted books with curious patrons.
There’s nothing more relaxing than a good book within the backdrop of the roaring Pacific Ocean and along Hwy. 101 you’ll find almost every small town has its own locally owned shop. Should you find yourself in Astoria next February, be sure to check out the Fisher Poets Gathering, where you’ll about 70 talented poets from the maritime industry at events all around town.
If you truly love books, you’ll want to check into the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, which is home to 20 rooms, each named for a different author such as Gertrude Stein, Herman Melville and Agatha Christie.
It’s no wonder that Oregon has so many great bookstores; it’s also home to some of the greatest authors to ever print. Beat generation luminary Ken Kesey (best known for “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”) laid roots in Springfield, while years later Chuck Palahniuk, attended journalism school just down the road at University of Oregon before he became famous for fiction novels such as “Fight Club.” Portland alone breeds a community of authors including Ursula Le Guin, known for her science fiction and fantasy novels and Chelsea Cain whose thrillers have reached the New York Times best-seller lists.
And, if you’re in town this weekend, hurry to get your tickets to the fifth annual festival of books, writers and storytellers known as Wordstock on October 1-10: Hear local authors on ten different stages read their work aloud, participate in a workshop, see a special broadcast of Live Wire!, go to a texting ball and much more!
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