The assignment came like a gauntlet thrown.
EMAIL FROM MY EDITOR: Portland, Oregon is the most literary city in the country. If you love books, you should go there right away.
MY REPLY: I’m looking at tickets as we speak.
It was really that simple — I’d been longing to see Portland and didn’t need much convincing. Before leaving, I queried a local Portland author to find out how the city’s book culture supports her. Mary Elizabeth Summer, author of Trust Me: I’m Lying, a young adult mystery series, was more than a little enthusiastic:
“It’s the compounding interest of creativity,” she gushed. “You can’t walk anywhere in this town without tripping over books, and that, my friend, is the only kind of town I want to live in.”
That was just what I wanted to hear. I donned a trench coat and fedora and headed north to investigate (though the detective outfit was more for dealing with rain than anything else). My first stop was a place to put up for the night: