Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
TUCSON, Arizona — Driving into Tucson after spending the day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, I kept telling myself to readjust my expectations. Having never been in any cave of consequence, I was absolutely blown away by Carlsbad. Even the seven-plus-hour drive to Tucson the next day couldn’t dampen my spirits, as I was sure that I had just seen phenomena that would never be matched again in my life. Antigone Books was set up to be a disappointment.
And yet. Rather than a letdown, Antigone buoyed the absurdly high level of my mood, initiating a type of runner’s high that wouldn’t dampen for many days (and states) to come. I walked into the store on Fourth Avenue and introduced myself, trying to prepare mentally for the slightly awkward pauses that are the normal effects of meeting someone new. But, owner Trudy Mills was having none of that. She greeted me with a smile, gave me a glass of cold water, and sat me down for an easy chat. Even if Trudy wasn’t a star (which she is), her store always would be. Truly eclectic, fun-loving, and even environmentally conscious (with solar panels on the roof and a spot to recharge electric cars), Antigone Books effusively radiates good vibes.
During our chat Trudy Mills answered the Algonquin Questionnaire:
When did Antigone Books open?
Antigone opened in 1973, though it concentrated on feminist books at that time. I bought the store in 1986, and we started to broaden our selection as other local bookstores went out of business during the rise of Barnes & Noble and Borders. We still have a large Feminist section, but we wanted to make sure we had the books that these displaced customers were looking for.
What was in this location before Antigone Books opened?
I’m pretty sure this was actually a Salvation Army store.
What is the oddest book on your shelves?
I really love this strange book by Ursus Wehrli called The Art of Clean Up. It has photographs of rather ordinary things—chicken noodle soup, laundry, tree leaves—followed by photographs of the same items separated and very neatly organized.
We carry these incredible bike helmets that are made to look like different animal heads. There’s a cat and even a triceratops; although, for some reason, the company doesn’t make the triceratops in an adult size.
What is your favorite book to recommend for the summer? What is your favorite Algonquin title?
It’s a long title, but we’ve had a lot of success with The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared. That one is a lot of fun and a great summer read. From Algonquin, I’d have to go with Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron. It’s not only a beautifully emotional book, but Naomi is also a wonderful person and one of our local favorites.
Are there any strange hidden talents on the staff?
This one isn’t necessarily a talent, but my business partner absolutely loves camels. She knows everything about them and is always looking for fun camel-related items for us to sell in the store.
Next stop: Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…