Say Nice Things 2024

Say Nice Things About Portland… Again!

It’s time to take Portland back from the buttholes. Here’s how.

Portland’s Cutest Creatures

Let’s say nice things about the city’s most adorable critters!

Why I (Still) Love Portland

A former Portlander returns to survey the city’s damage—and rebirth.

Say Nice Things FUN PAGE: Can You Find Time-othy the Chrono Goblin?

Time-othy the Chrono Goblin is causing trouble in Portland's past, present, and future... so find the little fucker, QUICK!!

Say Nice Things About… Biking in Portland

Things have changed since the early 2000s (not to mention 1896), but biking in Portland is still magical.

(Portland Chefs) Say Nice Things About… Portland Chefs

Portland’s premier restaurant and cart owners hype up the local food and chefs they love!

Say Nice Things About Local Drag Artists (Proudly Representing Portland All Year Long)

You might not know these performers (yet), but these drag artists consistently embody Portland’s strange and timeless beauty.

Say Nice Things About… Portland’s Themed Bookstores!

Whether you’re into sci-fi, romance, or weirdness, Portland has a bookstore for YOU!

The Evolution of Sleater-Kinney

Indie rockers reflect on 30 years as a band, and why they still call Portland home.

AfroVillage Does the Real Work on Portland’s Homeless Crisis

Founder LaQuida Landford shows up for Oregon’s most vulnerable ‘round the clock.

[Welcome to our second annual "SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT PORTLAND" issue! Read it online here, or if you like physical, paper-y things, you can find it in more than 50 locations all around the city!—eds]

As someone who briefly braved the trenches of bookstore work (I was a “generalist” at Powell’s during the pandemic), my appreciation for our city’s bookstores is unshakable. Luckily for me (and for all of us), Portland takes its bookstores seriously, and the city’s book-digging options have expanded in recent years to include genre-driven stores and rare book haunts. Here are five shops that deserve a second browse.

Parallel Worlds Bookshop

Parallel Worlds, a sweet, turquoise-walled shop with a kaleidoscopic quilted banner by local artist Biz Miller draped above the cash register, is also a sprawling cosmos of books to get lost in—the science fiction- and fantasy-themed store, which celebrates its second anniversary at the end of April, is thronged with spacey reads. One wall showcases covers of vintage mass-market paperbacks, complete with unicorns, martians, and breastplated women framed by chunky typefaces. Although my reading taste trends toward the earthbound end of the spectrum, I’m still a disciple of Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin, so copies of Kindred and The Lathe of Heaven stood out. (The shop is planning another Ursula birthday celebration this year, too.) Owner Sam Jones is jazzed about Parallel Worlds’s new horror writing section, which includes titles by women and LGBTQ+ authors. The store’s book club, run by shop hand Shayna Hodge, is also a hit—it’s expanded to include trivia nights, book swaps, and offshoot clubs for specific book series.

2639 NE Alberta. Open Weds-Sun 12-6 pm

Chaparral Books

If you’ve ever been dorkily enraptured by the local history books in the Oregon Historical Society’s gift shop, first of all: same. Also, you’ll likely love the roomy South Portland bookshop Chaparral Books, which specializes in rare and collectible tomes on Native American and Western Americana themes. I found plenty on old Portland and Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, but the store has a far wider selection than that; there are extensive literature, children’s, and biography sections, and a whole room of art books. Prices are reasonable, too—I spotted a cool San Juan Island birding book for $4, and a signed Annie Dillard first edition was $25. But Chaparral is, above all, the kind of bookstore that causes one to freeze and launch into a full-on existential crisis about their career path. (Wouldn’t you rather spend all day in a warmly lit, wooden-floored space, surrounded by old books and perfectly maintained plants in ceramic pots?)

5210 S Corbett. Open daily 10-6 pm

Crooked House Books

This bookstore scores 300 bonus points (yes, there’s a point system—try to keep up) for its three hospitable shop cats, Bruno, Sylvie, and Tommy. And while the homey storefront is only open on Saturdays and by appointment, Crooked House’s quirky volumes also pop up at rare book fetes like the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair, Rare Books LA, and Rose City Book & Paper Fair. Perhaps evidenced by its name, Crooked House specializes in all things off-kilter—think rare vintage domestica, instructional pamphlets, pop-up books, miniature tomes, decorative bindings, and paper ephemera. It’s the kind of stuff an Antiques Roadshow appraiser in a funky suit might appreciate. I recommend heading there if you’re in search of a gift your mom actually won’t find anywhere else, or if you’re looking to cultivate a book collection that says “I’m peculiar in a cool way, à la Bella Baxter in Poor Things.”

1602 NE 40th. Open Sat 11 am-5 pm, or by appointment

Grand Gesture Books

Although Grand Gesture Books hasn’t yet found its brick-and-mortar home, I’d be a dummy to leave Portland’s newest Black woman-owned romance bookstore off this list. Owner Katherine Morgan, who scores 100 bonus points for her housecat, Ramona, also curates the romance section at Powell’s Books (and happens to be one of my favorite Twitter follows). Currently, Grand Gesture’s bodice-rippers can be drooled over on (I suggest snagging a book by Kennedy Ryan—“I don’t know what she puts in her books, but I eat it up every time,” says Morgan.) The shop has also raised funds for Gaza relief efforts, and Morgan has launched three steamy in-person book clubs. They’re “for all your romance needs,” she explained. “One is all about variety, one is for the LGBTQIA+ community, and one aims to be quite spicy.”

Online at

Green Bean Books

One of the finest moments in cinema history was the unveiling of You’ve Got Mail’s Shop Around the Corner, an Upper West Side twinkle-lit haven for Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl books. (In one scene, Meg Ryan dons a conical hennin and reads to eager-eared children.) Green Bean Books, a children’s bookstore on Alberta, conjures a surprising amount of Shop Around the Corner’s charm, except it’s better, because it’s, you know… real. On a recent visit, Portishead’s Dummy spilled smoothly from the speakers as I noted the stuffed animals tucked into every nook and cranny of the store—stuffed soup, stuffed mice, stuffed acorns, stuffed rockhopper penguins. And because I am still capable of childlike wonder, the shop’s vintage vending machines spoke to me. (They dole out fake facial hair, muskrat finger puppets, and thimble-sized journals.) If you have a kid or know a kid, Green Bean is a no-brainer; the shop also hosts weekly storytimes, author readings, and a youth advisory board on upcoming books.

1600 NE Alberta. Open daily 11 am-5 pm