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Friday, March 6, 2020

Report From the Field #2: Book Stop, Tucson

I'm calling this report #2 only because it never occurred to me before to label my visits to other people’s bookstores as field reports. How many posts have I written on indie bookstores, not only in Michigan but between Michigan and Florida and then from Michigan to Arizona and back, in the 12-1/2 years of Books in Northport? I’m not going to go back and count, but it’s one of the things I do during my months of “seasonal retirement” when I’m away from my own bookstore in Northport, Michigan. 

When the Artist and I go to Tucson, venturing 100 miles west on expressway from our winter rental cabin, because we do it so rarely we always have an agenda; however, we never accomplish much of the items on our list, and the most recent day trip was no exception. New exhibit at the art museum, a couple of bookstores, a new Chinese restaurant, and maybe the camera shop, if time permitted: Those were our goals. Result: We got to one bookstore. But the bookstore was all I hoped it would be, as you will see if you bear with me until we get to that part of the story. First, though, I’m very sorry not to have more photographs of the early part of the day, because after deciding to circle around more of the city and take the Speedway exit, we were seduced by one that came before, as it sounded like it would take us more quickly to 4th Avenue. It did not. We found 4th Avenue easily and enjoyed cruising north on it through South Tucson, where brightly painted buildings, murals, and colorful tiles reminded me of my trip a couple years ago to the Yucatan. So beautiful and exciting! Another time I’ll employ my camera, but sometimes it just feels more important to be in the moment, not worrying about capturing the present for future rumination. And I was loving 4th Avenue!

Just as it seemed we must be nearing our goal, however, we were unceremoniously dumped off 4th Avenue and hurried onto the new and “improved” Broadway, a wide, swooping road that will no doubt be great for high-speed traffic (for those who want that) when it’s finished. At present, however, it is not finished, so we were not only routed way off our desired path but stuck for what seemed ages in stop-and-go-and-stop traffic, which is never any fun at all.

Finally getting off the nightmare road and into what felt like a reasonable grid of streets, we somehow found ourselves caught up in the University of Arizona campus — which, in case you are not familiar with it, is an enormous campus — so that finally coming out on Speedway Boulevard, a long, busy street often avoided by locals but one that serves very well to orient us country mice, was a huge relief. From there we found the end of 4th Avenue we wanted and persevered until arriving, at long last, at the 100N block. 

At last!
Tip to other visitors to Tucson: If you’re looking for the Book Stop on 4th Avenue, or for Antigone Books (which we will visit on another field trip), take the Speedway exit. From Speedway you’ll turn south (right) and have an easy time locating the bookstores. 
[Speedway Boulevard: 1st degree of relief…  
4th Avenue North: 2nd degree of relief…  
Parking space around the corner from Book Stop: complete relief!]

My camera work inside the bookstore was hurried, at best. I wanted to look at books! But you can probably see from these quick shots that the Book Stop was exactly the kind of bookstore I had been hoping to find.

Tina, the proprietor, was quietly welcoming, friendly and helpful without being in the least overbearing or hovering. Like her bookstore, she was just right. I found five books to buy that day, took a few pictures, shared with Tina my own bookstore connection, and received information from her about the store’s buying and trade policies. I also told her how much effort had gone into our getting to her store, and it was she who recommended the Speedway exit (so you have it from a local and don’t have to take my word alone for it).

Thank you, Tina!
In its own way, 4th Avenue North is as colorful as the stretch south of Broadway, but in a different way. It has no dominant ethnic tone but more of a 1960s hippie dream quality, as perhaps you can see from these photos I snapped from the car window. 

We will be returning to Tucson next week, when I will attend the mammoth Festival of Books on the UA campus with a friend. The plan is that her husband will drop us off for the day. Hooray! We won’t have to drive or park -- or dodge around bicycles and streetcars! 

Streetcars, really, on 4th Avenue!
So that will be another travel adventure and field report from the world of books, Southwest style, coming up soon.


twessell said...

Pamela, thanks for sharing another great field report. We miss you in Northport!

P. J. Grath said...

Ty, good to hear from you! My sad news today is that Field Report #3 will NOT focus on the Tucson Festival of Books, as the 2020 event, scheduled for this coming weekend, has been cancelled. Too many authors did not want to risk flying right now. And who can blame them? But I am thinking of Northport, too, and hoping my TEA 2020 schedule will be able to go forward as planned. See you in May!