We love books about Arizona and its quirky little bookstores. I am not talking about the Amazons and Barnes and Nobles of the world. I am talking about bookstores that present the unique aspects of Arizona. One just such store is Singing Winds Bookshop, post office address, Benson Arizona. This bookstore is a compilation of years of collecting by one woman, Winifred Bundy, whom sadly past away recently. We met a few years back at a The Singing Winds Book Festival over Thanksgiving weekend. We just had to go see what this special place and person was all about and why the fuss. Singing Winds Bookstore is an Arizona Oddity, a uniquely Arizona weirdness. Interesting and compelling with a definite following. When we visited Singing Winds, over 100 people came to join in the festivities and celebrate the new books by 3 authors. Ms. Bundy was a firecracker. Her children said they would try to keep it open. Call first. If you have a chance, go see this place yourself. It is a treasure trove of old and new books, most of them about Arizona and the Southwest.
Following is a shortlist of other boutique bookstores that we have run across and love. Please call first as they may not be open.
• The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum has lots of important books about flora and fauna, natural history and the desert environment. They even have their own publishing division!
• Chiracahua National Monument Visitors’ Center. Visit Faraway Ranch, buy the book.
• San Pedro House, Sierra Vista. Usual and unusual Bird Books and other bird items.
• Triple T Truck Stop, I-10 west, just outside of Omar’s which has HUGE breakfasts. The historical content of this bookstore was surprising and unusual. Also, the Visitor Center at Ramsey Canyon has a good selection of books about Arizona.
• Antigone Books on 4th Avenue. An independent bookstore with plenty of following. This reminds me of the movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in the Little Bookstore against the evil giant movie. What was that called?
• Mostly Books on the Eastside is another independent bookstore. They sell local autographed books and ebooks as well.
When visiting new places, I always like to peruse the bookshelves for something unusual; to get a sense of place and its history. At the museum at Colossal Cave Mountain Park at La Posta Quemada Ranch, you can research history of the CCC as well as look over old copies of Arizona Highways.
• Diamond Lil’s next to El Corral Steak house sells 50-year-old copies of Arizona Highways for $1.00.
Recently Read Fiction
J.A. Jance’s Joanna Brady Series is fiction but tells about well-known places around Cochise County. I enjoy them because the characters talk about familiar places where one feels a part of the story. Ms. Jance often shows up at the Festival of Books in Tucson.
Going Back to Bisbee
is a memoir / travel log by retired UA professor Richard Shelton. About a trip from Tucson back to the town where he first began teaching. As much about a sense of place as it is about a geographical place on a map.
Barbara Kingsolver lived and wrote about Tucson for a while. The Bean Trees: A Novel by Kingsolver, Barbara (2013) Paperback was one of my first “Tucson” books, although it was not so much about Tucson, just a feeling of happenstance.
Finally, When we first started Southern Arizona Guide, we compiled a page of Recommended Reading, which was, at the time our favorite selected set of guides to Southern Arizona. We still find these books, exciting, interesting, informative and useful. Enjoy!