Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Week Five: Books Across America

Week Five of Books Across America, and we've traveled through nine states from Ohio to California, visiting more than a dozen independent bookstores.  I'm happy to report I've been greeted by friendly, enthusiastic and sometimes even grateful booksellers everywhere I visited (other than one owner who never even bothered to glance up from her inventory list one early morning when I decided to squeeze her store into my schedule…at least it wasn't a total waste of time, since I found a fabulous coffee shop right next door).  Overall, it's been a fantastic experience and I can report that literature is alive and well in America.  Bookstores are busy and filled with people who love to read.  Now, before heading back through several more states, where I plan to visit a whole host of bookstores, I want to fill you in on where I've been lately.

The week before the holidays, traveling around Northern Arizona, I visited a few more independent bookstores with signed copies of my new suspense novel, The Lies We Keep, which just happens to be set in Sedona.  Much of this area was inspiration for my book, so it was with heartfelt pride to meet with booksellers in this part of the country.  Besides the fabulous bookstores I visited, I couldn't get enough of the spectacular wintry scenes.  The red-orange sandstone formations jutting up from the desert floor near Sedona, silvery blue skies, puffs of clouds pink like cotton candy, and the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff snow-capped in a glaze of white frosting.  Heading back down highway 17 to Phoenix, the Ponderosa Pines and Aspens thinned to brush and cacti as the sun set in the west, creating silhouettes across the dusty landscape, casting brilliant splashes of color against the heavens.  The next day, I wandered through shops in the rustic buildings of Old Town Scottsdale and then made my way to a couple more bookstores before taking some time off with family for Christmas.

Don't miss these fine bookstores in Arizona:

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe (with another location in Phoenix) is often featured on lists for Best Bookstores in America.  So, of course, I couldn't pass it up.  At one time, employee owned and operated, the store continues to be community-minded, donating proceeds from book sales to local teachers, public radio and other charities.  You'll find a nice collection of new and used books while enjoying a cup of coffee or even a cold beer at First Draft Bar.  They host plenty of author events, writing workshops, book clubs, weekly story-times, reading programs and offer textbook rentals.  This is one fabulous bookstore not to be missed.

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore located in Old Town Scottsdale was another must stop in Arizona.  Opened in 1989, The Pen is an independent bookstore which carries works of mystery, literary fiction, thrillers, historical and Southwest themed literature.  They are known for hosting author readings and signings, and other literary events, such as themed mystery conferences most years.  The shop has a charming ambiance with a cozy feel, comfy chairs and a friendly staff.  They ship worldwide and have a good collection of first edition signed books, including mine.  If they are sold out of something you want to read, they are happy to order a copy for you.  A lovely well-lit place to browse the next time you are poking around Old Town Scottsdale's Art District.

Starrlight Books in Flagstaff is situated on Leroux Street with historic brick buildings lining this rugged yet charming college town street.  The store is filled with an impressive collection of mostly used books in a wide range of categories.  There's a Barnes & Noble right around the corner, but this sweet little store is so worth visiting for true book lovers.  With a solid sense of choice in literature throughout the tidy space, and a lived-in, squeaky entry door type of  environment, this shop will put you in the mood for a great read.