These notable hometown authors capture the spirit of the Northwest and are must-reads for visitors and locals alike. Pick up a copy from among the 1.5 million volumes at Powell’s City of Books to read here or on the trip home.
Adapted into the 2018 film Leave No Trace, this novel by Reed College professor Peter Rock was inspired by the true story of a man and his daughter who lived off the grid in Portland’s Forest Park.
Cheryl Strayed’s raw, affecting account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was a New York Times bestseller and a 2014 motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon.
Fugitives and Refugees
Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk pulls back the drapes on Portland’s (and his own) oddball history with tales of Santa mobs, swingers’ clubs and Shanghai tunnels, among other sordid dealings.
In Katherine Dunn’s 1989 novel, a finalist for the National Book Award, a carnie couple tries to breed their own freak show. That’s an extreme case, but most local parents hope their kids will help “Keep Portland Weird.”
The Lathe of Heaven
Portland’s dystopian future, complete with an erupting Mount Hood, is portrayed in this 1971 novel from sci-fi and fantasy legend and National Book Award winner Ursula K. Le Guin.
The Ramona Books
You can find many names and landmarks from the adventures of Ramona Quimby and her cohorts — detailed in more than two dozen children’s books written by Beverly Cleary from 1950–2000 — in Portland (like Northeast Klickitat Street, where Ramona and Beezus live), or visit the commemorative Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden in Grant Park, near Cleary’s childhood stomping grounds.
The Decemberists’ singer Colin Meloy is known for his epic storytelling in song lyrics, so it comes as no surprise that he wrote a fantasy adventure series about Prue McKee’s quest to find her brother in the Impassable Wilderness locals call Wildwood (or Forest Park in Northwest Portland). The books are beautifully illustrated by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, who’s also provided cover art for the Decemberists.
The first mystery thriller in Portland author Chelsea Cain’s bestselling Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series introduces readers to the creepiest serial killer you’ve ever encountered.
Covering an entire city block, Powell's is a landmark, a great bookstore and a microcosm of the city itself.
Don't stop with the largest independent bookstore in the world; these seven other shops offer an abundance of literary riches.
Portland Book Festival (formerly “Wordstock”) returns every November with an impressive (and extensive) lineup of local and national authors.