Upon moving to Portland, I knew I would have ample opportunities to read more books, not just because this city has so many cozy coffeehouses, but because of Powell's City of Books. With over 68,000 square feet of tome-filled space, Powell's is the final destination on a book lover's essential pilgrimage.
Over the past few months, I've found myself waltzing into this bountiful bookstore about once a week, each time walking away with something new (whether that be an actual book or the desire for another book). With floors of fiction, nooks of non-fiction and shelves of sci-fi, Powell's has something for even the choosiest of readers. You really can't beat their myriad selection of new, used and rare books. I love combing through the stretches of shelves that line every wall, looking for something that will catch my eye. Here are some of the books I've added to my own personal library, which is probably one-millionth that of Powell's.
alexa chung IT
To understand IT, you have to understand Alexa Chung herself. She's a British television personality, fashion muse to CHANEL's Karl Lagerfeld and an all-around "it" girl. Her job is, basically, to be cool. This collection of thoughts and images is strikingly blunt, chic and unapologetic. Alexa gives advice on everything from how to wear your makeup to how to get over a breakup. Tumblr-esque photography breaks up her randomly organized thoughts, making this the perfect book for our low-attention span generation. I've picked up this book plenty a time after an initial read just to absorb my favorite snippets over again for inspiration. Here's one of her diamonds of wisdom:
Instagram will not mend your broken heart, despite your best efforts to post pictures of yourself looking 'happy.' Every time you post a picture of yourself to Instagram looking fake happy a fairy dies. Fact.
I read this exact passage on page 128 in the bustling café at Powell's and it made me laugh out loud. I definitely recommend reading this book in public (maybe even with a delicious ham & cheese croissant like I had there) because you will attract a lot of attention flipping through its occasionally scandalous photography and brash quotes.
connor franta A WORK IN PROGRESS
Connor Franta, a bonafide YouTube sensation, is a huge inspiration to me. At the same age as me he has built an impressive social media superstar resumé. His videos are so relatable and funny that you start to wonder if he's actually your best friend (don't tell my best friend Courtney that). Trust me, it's a feeling that his almost 4.5 million subscribers all share. He's become somewhat of an arbiter of taste with his beautifully curated Instagram, compilation album of up and coming indie artists and coffee collaboration.
Like Alexa's book, Connor's memoir is full of real-life experiences and pretty photography. He really aimed to give his fans an even more personal look at his life than what his videos already accomplish. Twenty-two-year-old Connor surprisingly has a lot of life lessons to share, including his struggle with his sexuality and battling depression. Here's just a sample of Connor's amazing outlook on life:
I refuse to live a life of regret. I refuse to hope things will get better in the future when I have complete control over making them the best possible right here and now. We have one life—and none of us knows how long our life will be or what will become of it. The possibilities are truly infinite. The future is a bright as you let it shine.
I read this book in the comfort of my apartment with a candle lit and my body covered by the soft sheets of my bed. A glass of Syrah and fresh cut flowers heightened my emotions as I embarked on a personal journey of self-discovery with Connor's book.
paula hawkins THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
In the middle of Ace Hotel's rustic and inviting lobby, my heart was racing not from the iced mocha from the Stumptown next door, but from Paula Hawkin's debut psychological thriller. Through an ordinary experience of a woman who commutes on a train to work every day, Paula crafted an intense mystery that will have you reeling. What makes this book such an interesting read is its polarizing main character, who I was inconsistently wary to trust as the intriguing plot unraveled. Fans of Gone Girl will adore this national bestseller.
kim kardashian SELFISH
One might assume Kim Kardashian's Selfish is a "light-read," but it's physically not. This 445-page selfie bible is no quick glimpse into Ms. West's life, it's a hefty encyclopedia documenting almost every minute of fame she's had from 2006 to 2014. For me, this book was purely research as I only aspire to achieve even just a sliver of Kim's fame through one seductive selfie at a time. Browsing through Kim's tome is nothing but guilt-inducing fun, especially when you get to the black pages where Kim leaves nothing to the imagination with her bare-bodied, intimate images. Some of the book's best moments are when Kim doesn't take herself so seriously, like by sharing her sunburned face or a flirty family picture. It's no surprise that Selfish puts my very own selfie memoir, Vanité, to shame, but here's hoping my sequel will out-do and literally outweigh Kim's release.
brad gooch SMASH CUT
After reading an article in The New York Times about Brad Gooch last month, I instantly picked up his poignantly-written piece. Smash Cut is the memoir of a male model who lived in New York during the 70s and 80s, when fashion shows weren't filled with celebrities and bloggers as they were artists and industry insiders. The handsome Brad tells his heartbreaking tale of romance with Howard Brookner, a film director who battled with AIDS before an untimely death. This story is best paired with a glass of rosé, a wine that's lighter than some of the subject matter of such an important and honest book.
Even with these five books in my collection, I'm nowhere near done experiencing all the adventures that Powell's contains. If you can't find me out and about this summer, it'll be the fault of having the world's largest bookstore within walking distance of my apartment.