Life stuff

Portland, Land of the Free… books

When I moved 2,200 miles from Indiana to Portland, Oregon three years ago, I didn’t have the means to bring a lot of stuff with me. This meant leaving a fairly large collection of books behind.

It’s only recently that I’ve had a chance to start slowly accumulating books again, and in a place like Portland, it’s pretty hard not to accumulate them. We’re home to the legendary Powell’s City of Books, a multi-level store taking up a whole city block and a whopping 68,000 square feet (not counting the various smaller branches throughout the city), Powell’s sells both new and used volumes.

Their website says they buy 3,000 used books over the counter every day. I’ve seen the business they do and the number of used books available on the shelves. I believe them.

Not only are we Portlanders supporting this massive independent bookseller (even in a down economy), we’re giving our libraries a workout, as well. In fact, the Multnomah County Library is second only to the New York Public Library in circulation figures. Considering that Portland is only the 29th largest city in the United States, that stat says a lot about the role of reading in the Portland Metro area!

All of this is merely background information for telling you about what happened when my son and I were driving somewhere through our inner southeast neighborhood on Sunday. As we turned the corner at Brooklyn and 26th Avenue, we saw two cardboard boxes sitting out in the tree row. “Free boxes” are a pretty common sight around here. People who have stuff they don’t want will often stick them into a box and leave it out for passersby to help themselves.

These particular free boxes were full of books.

Naturally, we stopped. My son has often come home carrying books scavenged from a free box while out with his friends. I assumed we’d each pick out a couple and that would be that. I didn’t count on the books being in mint condition; turns out, that’s something I find hard to resist in a free book. I also didn’t expect to find so many books I was interested in.

Basically, he took three books. I had an armload. Here’s what we got:

Yeah, I'm a trifle political...

The kid's choices

Hey, we have a dog!

I suspect this could come in handy someday.

This one just made me laugh really hard.

Have you ever taken advantage of a “free box?” What did you take from it? Have you been the beneficiary of free books from another source?



7 thoughts on “Portland, Land of the Free… books

  1. Oh my, I would be in heaven to pass a box like that. It would never happen round her sadly. Although the local library sells off books at 10p each which is almost free πŸ™‚

    Posted by Sarah Pearson | August 24, 2011, 9:24 am
  2. Oh, I can so relate! I’m moving back in with Mom and Dad next month and I’ve had to let go of mostly all of my books coz my new room doesn’t have room for my bookshelf. Sigh… It’s OK, though, I want to support my local library and I’m sure I’ll be able to accumulate again once I’ve moved back out. Glad to hear you Portlanders are so loyal to your local bookshops/libraries! Kudos!

    Hmmm… Can’t say I’ve ever gotten anything from a “free box” but I have a good friend who is OBSESSED with garage sales! Lol… πŸ˜‰

    Posted by Crystal | August 24, 2011, 2:42 pm
  3. Another reason for me to settle down in the Pacific NW!! There are so many writers and bookworms who live there πŸ™‚ We lived in BC (Vancouver Island) for a couple of years, and traveled down to WA and OR frequently and I miss it.

    Posted by Kim | August 25, 2011, 2:47 pm
  4. Nice post. I study one thing more difficult on completely different blogs everyday. dgdbeeedaedb

    Posted by Johnd54 | May 11, 2014, 4:57 am

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