Originally posted on The Algonquin Books Blog.
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…
LOS ANGELES — While I was making my way to Skylight Books it never occurred to me that they would have an actual skylight in their building. I don’t know why it didn’t. I had plenty of time to mull things over as I incorrectly read a three-mile (one hour) trek as being a one-mile stroll. It’s possible that the haze of celebrity fumes coupled with the bright midday sun was just too much…
Regardless, I did eventually make it to Skylight Books, and my inability to make basic associations with words left me a wonderful surprise. There’s a skylight in the store! Amazing! But “Skylight” doesn’t even begin to cover what was in store for me. But then, I guess Amazing-Store-With-Happy-Knowledgeable-Booksellers-A-Beautiful-Interior-A-Complete-Selection-Of-Books-And-Perfect-Skylights is a little lengthy for a bookshop name.
…well we have multiple skylights in the main building here.
What is the oddest book on your shelves?
We stock a mini-comic called Sad Animals drawn by North Carolinian Adam Meuse. It’s not only odd, but also the best selling zine at our store.
What is the oddest non-book item you sell?
We have these Seed Bombs that you can toss out onto the ground and have plants grow from them. They look almost like chocolate candies and every time we walk into the store we have a brief moment of excitement before we remember that they are inedible.
What is your favorite book from Algonquin? Your favorite summer read?
It was published a few years back, but I [Steven] loved Candyfreak by Steve Almond. It’s a great look at regional candy makers struggling to survive in an industry dominated by big conglomerates. As for the summer read, we’ve never really recommended books by the season. But Gravity’s Rainbow by Pynchon is Charles’ favorite book to recommend. It’s a dense read, but it’s totally worth the time you spend on it.
Does anyone on staff have a unique talent that would be fun to share?
We have an incredibly talented staff. From published authors to avant-garde musicians and radio contributors. Our bookseller Jenn designs most of the graphics on our website. But probably the most noticeable talent in the store is Frieda’s artwork. She created this amazing sculpture out of cardboard boxes that sits at the top of a bookshelf in our building.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked while working at Skylight?
The strangest thing that happens consistently is that a local resident jogs by our store every morning and does a type of rain dance ritual to bless the store on her way. As for the strangest question, my favorite is when people accidentally put a twist on classic titles. I’ve been asked to find Miserable People by Hugo Something (Les Miserables by Victor Hugo) and any book by Ernie Hemming (Ernest Hemingway).
Next stop: The Booksmith in San Francisco.
*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…