Powell’s Books’ Atheism Section April 1, 2009

Powell’s Books’ Atheism Section

This is pretty cool.

Powell’s Books, an independent bookstore much smaller than any Barnes & Noble or Borders, has quite the impressive section on atheism — at least at this store in Portland:


There are books there I’ve never even heard of…

A Second Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism on the bottom shelf?! Who knew there was a first…?

Anyone else know of a mainstream bookstore that has an atheism section that could rival this one?

One potential downside: I’ve been to bookstores like these before… for some reason, they always seem to have a New Age section that’s just as massive. What is up with that?

(via Tacoma Atheists)

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  • Powell’s bookstore is called “the city of books” for a reason. It is one of the largest bookstores in the country. They have a good selection of EVERYTHING.

  • Takma’rierah

    Granted, I have not explored much (shocking, considering the amount of books I’ve amassed in the past few years of having an income), but I have an example of the opposite: the Waldenbooks nearby has such a giant selection of Christian books that even besides the four or five racks directly attributed to it, the supposedly neutral “spirituality” section is still all Christian without even any of the other major faiths, let alone atheism. To top it off there are FOUR displays of Twilight in there even though they’ve said that there’s not enough room to separate the social science, political, and true crime sections.

    However, I am somewhat mollified by the huge swaths of science fiction/fantasy and fiction, even if I have never been able to determine why Stephen King’s books go in fiction and not scifi/fantasy.

  • blake

    Just a slight correction: the Powell’s in downtown Portland is actually bigger than any Barnes & Noble or Borders I’ve been to. Bigger than any bookstore I’ve ever been to.

    As tokenadult said, they call it the city of books for a reason.

  • Secular Humanist

    Border’s in Peoria, Illinois, has a shelf marked “Atheism.”

  • Pseudonym

    Wow, great stuff. And a couple of inspiring observations:

    – “Godless Morality” is there. Liberal Christians FTW.
    – They haven’t sold many of their copies of “God is not Great”. Clearly people in Portland have taste.

  • Erp

    “Godless Morality” is written by a former Scottish Anglican bishop, Richard Holloway, who apparently now describes himself as a post-Christian (he’s gone a bit beyond liberal Christianity). The subtitle is “Keeping Religion out of Ethics”. It is worth reading.

    Also it is my understanding that Powell’s occupies a whole city block and has more than a million books. Not many Borders that big.

  • Ryan

    As a native Oregonian, I have to say Powell’s definitely meets my fix for atheist literature.

  • Diochs

    As a Portland OR native, I’m very proud of Powell’s (and Mike Powell’s) presence in the city.

  • Revyloution

    Life time Oregonian here. Powells has always been my #1 favorite bookstore. I live a good 3 hours away, so I never get to visit as often as I would like.

    As to your question about the crystal gazing crowd, I guess that it might be a bit of evidence for people who claim that having some spirituality is natural to our species. Atheists like us are the exception. If true, I hope one day we find the gene responsible for making people seek out supernatural beliefs and cure it.

  • Rachel

    Ahhhh, how I love being a Portlander! Powell’s is one of my favorite haunts.

  • Josh Pawlikowski

    Well, color me jealous. 😛

    The Barnes & Noble nearest to me has an atheism section that consists of precisely one shelf. And not even an entire shelf, as in the picture above. It’s literally just a single row wedged in a corner in the back of the store, near the floor. And they’re not too quick on restocking the books, either.

    The Christianity section, of course, has two entire rows dedicated just to the Christian Fiction books. Then there’s the two Holy Bible rows, two for Christian Inspiration, and the Bible Studies books… and a couple creationist books in the evolution section.

  • Miko

    Because New Age types want to buy books too? Seriously, how dare a book store stock books that their customers want to buy, right?

  • Portland was the first place I lived after I graduated from the Christian college, and I just about died with joy the first time I saw the atheism section in Powell’s. A far cry from college, when every atheist book I read had to be hidden or accompanied by an acceptable explanation (“I’m doing research for a theology paper…”)

  • GT

    There’s a section like that in the local Chapters store (Toronto), except someone put bibles and other christian literature in front of all the Athiest books.

  • Bacopa

    Last time I was at the borders in the Wealthy People’s Socialist Republic of The Woodlands, TX, they didn’t have that big an atheism section, but they had about ten recent atheist titles displayed on an endcap in the religion section.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    Do you speak of Olympic (and world) long jump record-holder Mike Powell? Is he now a bookstore owner?

  • Why so much new age stuff? My guess is that the link here is some sort of rebellion against the prevailing culture; there are many types of atheists.

  • Matthew T.

    The Border’s in Concord, New Hampshire had an Atheist section that actually had most atheist and agnostic books that I had looked for. It was great. Their Christian book section wasn’t super huge either…

  • Secular Humanist

    Speaking of New Age stuff, one of my fellow journalists (a wonderful and attractive woman) lent me a copy of one of her New Age books and encouraged me to read it.

    It was absolutely unintelligible rubbish produced by some woman who claimed her hand was actually moved by God as she wrote her transcripts.

    Sorry to say, my friend attempted suicide by drinking anti-freeze. When that didn’t work she used a gun.

    She was searching for something that didn’t exist and it took her down the path to an early death.

    I miss her still.

  • Skeptimal

    I could move to Portland just for that book store. It’s three stories tall and an entire city block.

  • To clarify, it was *outside* the Red Room, which has lots of religion books. Bah. I suppose they want to keep us from wandering around in there being annoying and saying “Hey! Where are all the Dawkins books!?”

  • Willow

    I have never actually seen a full Atheist book section! Where I live, most bookstores just have massive “new age,” Christian, and Buddhism shelves.


  • Brooks

    I’m jealous of that section. Our Booksamillion is the only decent bookstore nearby and their atheist books are always scattered all over the place. Like sometimes I find atheist books in the politics sections, sometimes they’re in the science section, and sometimes I find them in the philosophy section. They have at least three or four sections for Christian books, though. They have one section for Christian apologetics, another for Christian fiction (isn’t that an oxymoron?), and another for Christian books for children, which always makes me sad when I see it. The only other religious books that they have are on Buddhism which they have in the philosophy section and a rather large New Age section towards the back.

  • cicely

    One potential downside: I’ve been to bookstores like these before… for some reason, they always seem to have a New Age section that’s just as massive. What is up with that?

    Because there is a market for colorful, shiny fluff with an appearance of depth and meaning.

  • Ashley

    I just went to Books a million (downtown Houston) Looking for the book Parenting Beyond Belief. Went to the parenting section (no luck) looked for a religious section but could only find an Xtian section and a bible section and then a new age section. That was all. I guess Im buying the book online.

  • Wow, what a cool section! I don’t have half of the books in that pic. Yummy!

  • Lee

    Although not from Portland, I have spent a fair amount of time there. My first stop on any visit is Powell’s; it is definitely the best general bookstore I have ever been in (and that includes the Strand in NYC). They look like a small store front when you first go in, but then you discover room after room after room…. In fact, they take up most of the block!

  • I have 3 of those titles on my bookshelf at home.

    Powell’s is a must visit if you visit Portland.

    BTW, where is your book? I found it in our atheist section here in Utah at our local FYE store.

  • Emily

    Sweet, that’s just a short car ride away for me. I’ll definitely go check it out.

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