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…
LA JOLLA, California — When you’re driving around San Diego, you get the distinct impression that you’re in the most beautiful city in the United States. With picturesque beaches around every corner and Jacaranda trees popping purple blooms along each street, it’s hard to imagine your travels getting any better. But it turns out that just a few northward slopes are separating you from the real jewel of Southern California, the town of La Jolla.
Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla is a paradise. In a five minute walk you can pass by a seal beach sanctuary, a cove perfect for beach lounging, surfing, and meeting locals, a lush green park, a plethora of local restaurants, and one absolutely stunning bookstore. A mainstay in downtown La Jolla, Warwick’s is the perfect blend of form, functionality, and fun. Its displays are breathtaking, its offerings diverse, and its staff delightful. Not only are there plenty of books to choose from, but they also have gifts, stationery, office supplies, jewelry, and all manner of incredible knickknacks. The only reason to leave the store is to see the beauty of the rest of La Jolla, but I wouldn’t venture too far. You’ll definitely be coming back to this bookstore.
When was Warwick’s first opened?
Warwick’s opened in 1896 and, to the best of our knowledge, is the oldest continuously family owned bookstore in the States.
Nancy Warwick is our current owner and is the fourth generation Warwick to own the store.
What are the oddest and rarest books on your shelves?
We have one book that works for both those categories. It’s a very rare edition of Peter Beard Art [Edition] that we’ve had for a few years. We received two copies and sold the first almost immediately but we’ve held on to the other copy since then.
What is the oddest non-book item that you sell?
Ohhh, for a while we were selling toy accordions. They were positioned right outside our offices and attracted a lot of attention from the children that came in. Certainly the oddest, and most annoying, item that we’ve had in the store.
What are your favorite books from Algonquin?
And your favorite summer read?
Is there a staff cocktail of choice?
Adrian: I love a good bourbon. I’ve tried to get the rest of the staff interested in it, though I’m not sure how effective I’ve been. Regardless, everyone should try a glass of Pappy Van Winkle in their lifetime.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked in the store?
Our favorite staff story is when somebody came in looking for “The Life of Pee.” We brought him Life of Pi, but didn’t have the heart to correct their pronunciation.
Next stop: Book Soup in Los Angeles.
*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…