The Book MarkREADERS' AND STAFF PICK: Bookstores are meant to have shelves of different genres, little alcoves, tiny rooms, forgotten corners, ladders, old chairs and creaky floors. Most bookstores have a lot of one offering or a smattering of a few. But The Book Mark has loads of each--and then some. Frequently hosting some of the best authors who stray through the Old Pueblo and keeping some of the oddball books you can't find anywhere else, The Book Mark rises to the top as the best place to pick up good words.
5001 E. Speedway
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: The Haunted Bookshop has been in business for 20 years and carries 80,000 titles, including lots of local authors, books about the Southwest, arty jigsaw puzzles, and magical kids' books and toys; and the kids will delight that there's even a secret passageway to a room where adults are not likely to go--not unless they're experienced spelunkers. The Haunted Bookshop will handle your special order, wrap your gift purchases, and put up with your staying for hours. When you feel you really have worn out your welcome--your judgment, not theirs--take your new book out on the front porch, serve yourself a free cup of coffee and bask in the view and sounds of the Tohono Chul wilds and the distant mountains. The Haunted Bookshop is at 7211 N. Northern Ave.
CAT'S MEOW: Who would have thought that underneath the mild-mannered exterior of a former librarian lies the relentlessly teasing nature of a Hopi clown? Actually, we don't know David Laird well enough to assume the clown logo of Books West Southwest truly represents his inner self, but we do know it's a great idea for a librarian to run a bookstore centered around his special interest in Southwestern books. New, used and rare volumes fill a renovated Tucson house, 2452 N. Campbell Ave., and shelf upon shelf lure the unwary browser into lingering longer than planned. The natural history, Native American and children's sections are particularly inviting. Time and again, the depth of the selections has been outstanding. Just the other day, a book on plants of Baja's cape region we thought could only be obtained directly from its botanical garden publisher in California leaped from the shelf and mocked us for the efforts we had spent trying to get it mailed to us. Clowning aside, this bookstore is an incredible resource for all who happen to live in this very special part of the world.