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A bounty of book love for bibliophiles in Bend, Oregon (plus leave a comment to win a $20 gift certificate for Between the Covers bookstore!)

Downtown Bend Art Walk

I love books. Blame it on the fact that my parents let me read under the covers with a flashlight as a kid, or on my degree in English Lit, or on my not-so-secret other life as a romantic comedy author.

Lucky for me (and for other bibliophiles!) there’s lots of book-related fun to be had in Bend.

An author book signing during the Nature of Words literary festival.

We’re in the middle of the 2011 Nature of Words Literary Festival, which is taking place Nov. 2-6. This year’s lineup features writing workshops, book signings, and lectures from incredible authors including Heidi Durrow, Mark Spragg, Keith Scribner, Augusten Burroughs, William Kittredge, Nancy Mairs and Seth Mnookin. Many offerings have already sold out, but check out the online ticket center to see what’s still available.

Even if you miss the festival itself, be sure to visit the Nature of Words Retail Center in downtown Bend. This little literary boutique offers literary themed artwork, games, clothing, and jewelry. They’re open 10-4 Monday through Friday on Oregon Avenue in downtown Bend (across from the Pine Tavern). Proceeds benefit Nature of Words’ youth programs.

Now that you’re on a roll with your book-themed retail therapy in downtown Bend, keep strolling south until you reach Between the Covers bookstore at the corner of Bond and Delaware. This cozy little shop has a surprisingly huge array of books ranging from literary classics to young adult selections and everything in between. The owner, Hayley Wright, and her knowledgeable staff will custom order almost any book you want if it’s not on the shelves, and they’re great about recommending books if you aren’t sure what you want.

Oh, and here’s the big bonus – CANDY! Ooodles of old time candy, like Whistle Pops, Pop Rocks, Bottle Caps, Wax Lips, and more. Between the Covers has an excellent selection, and I’ve seldom gone in there without stocking up on Sen Sens.

Between the Covers bookstore in downtown Bend.

For book lovers who prefer larger chains (or those who happen to be hanging on the east side of town when a book urge strikes) Barnes and Noble is located in the Forum Shopping Center near Costco.

Bend also has a huge array of used bookstores. There’s a lovely little cluster of them right downtown including Pegasus Books on Minnesota Avenue. They carry new and used books, graphic novels, comics, and an array of games and toys. Just a few doors down, visit Dudley’s BookShop Café. Not only do they have a great selection of used books, but also a wonderful little café with tea, espresso drinks, cookies, snacks, and more. Dudley’s also hosts regular author events and live music, so check their schedule online to see what’s happening.

If you venture a bit outside the downtown area, you’ll hit another great pod of used bookstores on Greenwood Avenue. The Open Book and The Bookmark are located just across Greenwood from one another, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for at one place, you’ll likely find it at the other. I’m particularly smitten with both shops’ selection of paperback romance novels, though they have a huge array of offerings in just about every genre.

Oh, and let’s not forget one of Bend’s best literary resources – the Deschutes Public Library! You’ll need a library card to check out books, which means visitors without proof of Deschutes County residency are out of luck. Still, there’s plenty of browsing you can do here, not to mention tons of events and classes. Check out the library’s online calendar for offerings ranging from story time for kids to lectures on subjects like parenting, social networking, and more.

So how about it, booklovers? What’s your favorite book-related activity in Bend? If you’re not sure, go ahead and leave a comment telling us your favorite book.

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