Portland’s Third Eye Books, Accessories & Gifts
, owned and operated by Charles Hannah and Michelle Lewis, focuses on African-centered books and gifts, and includes as its mission giving back to and supporting the community through cooperative economics and partnerships with local nonprofits like Self-Enhancement, Inc., and Camp Fire Columbia. Recently settled into a cozy storefront on SE Division Street, Charles and Michelle are warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable booksellers whose decades-long passion for reading and advocacy is evident in everything they do.
We’re excited to dust off our City of Readers series
with an interview with Charles Hannah.
Where are you from originally?
Rock Island, Illinois
Last book you loved:
The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History
by David F. Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson
Describe your first memorable reading experience.
Great question. For me, that would be going grocery shopping with my mother as a child. The “unwritten agreement” we formulated was that if I was “good” in the store while she shopped, I could pick out any comic book from the stand at checkout. This worked for many years until I found out about the world of sports cards. Of course, she added sports cards to the list to keep me reading. All along, I thought I was collecting cool comics and cards. I think she was just happy to see me enjoying reading.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
A book that has been well researched by the author. I love footnotes that lead me to new books or research. An author who knows their subject matter (Master Teacher) and who has done the work to capture as much information as possible on the subject at hand. As a visual person, I look for a great cover on a book. I want the graphic artwork to stop me in my tracks and scream out, “Read me now!”
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
That’s easy. People love to be around other people who are in the pursuit of books. Bookstores build community. Once inside a bookstore you can interact with other shoppers and talk with a bookseller about recommendations and new releases. Another reason book shoppers love stepping into a bookstore is the opportunity for a book to “find them” while browsing the shelves. Bookstores have traditionally been a place where people gather to meet up, find out about community events, and discuss all kinds of issues, from community engagement to dismantling white supremacy and other topics. It’s difficult to do this online or in digital spaces.
What do you do when you're not reading?
I love to spend time outside with my wife, friends, and three grandchildren. I am currently on the Board of Directors of the Black Food Sovereignty Coalition
. We maintain a growing urban farm called Black Futures Farm located in SE Portland. In addition, I collect comic books and vinyl records in an effort to become the world’s best Bedroom DJ.
What do you love about Portland?
I love being outside in the great outdoors. It’s awesome that Portland is conveniently located near the ocean, mountains, forest, desert, and of course the city parks. My favorite city park is Peninsula Park.
÷ ÷ ÷
Shop local and shop indie. Browse Third Eye Books online and in their store.