Getting Lost at Powell’s Books

Powell’s Books on Cedar Hills in Beaverton is my favorite brick and mortar bookstore! While there is a Powell’s downtown that fills up a whole city block and has stories of reading materials, the one in Beaverton holds happier memories.  Not only did I once sit in the first row to hear my book-crush Fredrik Backman but I find that in almost every section of the store, I can lose myself simply by reading what staff have to say about the books.  When I go to Powell’s, I can take a little mini-vacation and leave relaxed and recharged.

I went to buy birthday gifts for a 10 year but I ended up browsing in the wine section.  With my head tilted to the right, reading just the spines of books, I let myself imagine what each wine might taste like.  Another thing I appreciate about this Powell’s is that they have such a great mix of used and new books, so the smell of dusty books does not overwhelm in Beaverton. Thinking about tasting wine can be much more difficult if one smells dusty books.

Exactly a year ago I’d been looking for a copy of Cork Dork for a friend’s birthday gift.  Just two years ago, I’d decided to learn a new language as I prepared to welcome a classroom for newcomer’s in my elementary school.  While my daughter was 38% fluent in Spanish according to the app she was using, my very short commute and very busy life didn’t give me a chance to practice regularly.  The students in my community speak over 25 languages so instead of focusing on acquiring a language that would help me communicate with families, I instead decided to learn the language of wine.  Aside from “good”, “red” and “white”, I wasn’t able to describe wine or talk about it at all so it was the perfect language acquisition project.  I immersed myself in the world of wine (during the 8 minutes or so a day I had free).

What I didn’t know when I started my journey is that within just a few miles of my home there are hundreds of wineries.  Additionally, grocery store aisle provide basic terminology about grapes and regions so any trip to  market gave me a chance to read wine words as I meandered to the meat department.  During my first year of study, I also learned that I have amazing friends willing to pitch in to help at a moments notice AND I know many people who will correct me if I’m saying or doing it wrong.

A friend gave me a copy of Cork Dork and in this book, I found how a serious person tackles the job of learning.    The Cork Dork Author  was indeed an inspiration.   Bianka Bosker had also been on a local news show (check it out  Cork Dork Author Interview in Portland ) but last year, the staff at my favorite Powell’s didn’t seem familiar with her work.  This year, it was selected as a Staff Pick.  I was so proud that another reader enjoyed the book as much as I did!

As I thought about the book, I remembered how I’d considered changing toothpaste and deodorant brands.  For a split second, I considered giving up coffee in order to better taste the notes of wine but clearly, Bosker is much more dedicated that I am.  I LOVE coffee.  I’m fine if my breath is minty fresh and my powder fresh pits make it so that the wine I’m drinking just tastes good.  By the third glass, all white or red wine seems good so if my vocabulary hasn’t grown, I’m okay with that.

What has grown over the past two years is my appreciation for the beauty of Oregon.  As I started on my quest for a birthday gift today, I was struck by the beauty of Mt. Hood in the distance.  The green trees and blue sky could be enjoyed wholeheartedly on a warm, dry day.  To the west, I now know that rolling hills provide the perfect soil for families to grow grapes.  Grape farms provide sweet spots for friends to come together and relationships are the heart of the community.

Getting lost at Powell’s on a Sunday afternoon is easy to do.  One minute you’re looking for a birthday gift and the next you are thinking about wine.

Powell’s Books





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