Grants Pass: An unexpected place for reading

Road Journals Blog—Fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts love Grants Pass. This rough-around-the-edges Rogue River hamlet has been a favorite getaway for generations; Hollywood stars like Clark Gable made it their rustic hideaway from the 1950s on.

But let’s be honest: Grants Pass is not exactly renowned as an outpost of the intelligentsia. So imagine my surprise when, on a recent road trip to report on the Applegate Valley for VIA, I discovered not one, not two, but five bookstores worth visiting—all in Grants Pass, population about 33,000, all independent and all with something to offer.


Ian Wilson/Flickr

Here they are, in approximate order of largest to smallest.

Oregon Books & Games: With a slogan like “Your independent store for independent minds,” you just can’t go wrong. This is a must-stop for my family any time we head north on a trip. They have books for all ages, and a good selection of games. The outgoing staff is free with recommendations, even posting them on their website. The store hosts numerous readings for both local and visiting authors.

Book Lore: This small, innovative used bookstore has a much greater selection than its size suggests. The dedicated staff makes an impressive effort to find books its devoted customers are looking for, going so far as to post the latest finds on the store’s Facebook page. Best of all, it’s a nonprofit with proceeds benefitting the developmentally disabled.

2 Dollar Bookstore and Exchange: They’re not kidding. Almost every one of the stacks of books piled floor to ceiling in this crazily crowded shop is just $2, and you can find most anything if you’re willing to search for it. Mysteries, sci fi, and romance are particularly plentiful here; it’s the perfect place to round out your collection of Agatha Christie or Nora Roberts.

Readings for the Spirit: If you’ve been to Grants Pass, you know the town has a slightly schizophrenic character—half-cowboy, half-New Age hippie. This dichotomy is best sampled via back-to-back visits to crystal-draped Aquarius Books & Gifts, and über-Christian Evangel Parable Christian Books. If your weekend visit starts early enough, don’t miss the drumming circle held at Aquarius during the town’s popular First Friday events. And the extensive selection of gospel music at Evangel Parable is worth a browse, as are the children’s books, which include many classics, from the Narnia series to Curious George.

Melanie Haiken wrote about Applegate Valley for the May/June 2011 issue of VIA.

This blog post was first published in June 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.