With the visual charm of a forgotten college library, Powell's Bookstore in Lakeview could surely take the title of the anti-Barnes & Noble. But it's not just the atmosphere that crowns it king of non-corporate America; it's also the way no one rushes to greet you, there's no book-of-the-month club to join, and no copy of The DaVinci Code in site. There's something about this effort to not impress that makes it, well, impressive.
Perhaps what's most remarkable is its wide and far-reaching selection of used books, in topics that include sociology, history, women's studies, travel, fiction and health. There's also a particularly good array of art, photography and children's books. Most of the titles date back to the '90s or even further (e.g. the presidents section stops at Nixon), and tend to be more obscure and rare, rather than popular and widely printed.
The setting here isn't conventionally cozy, but it is welcoming in its own "you can chill here if you want to" way. Worn-in couches are strewn throughout the three-room space, and there's even a front seating area complete with a large couch, tables/chairs, water cooler and a seemingly defunct coffee bar. It's the perfect setting for literary hard cores who know exactly what they're looking for...or don't mind sifting through thousands of obscure titles to find it.
Centerstage Reviewer: Ashley Hamilton