Destinations: Follow the road to great books - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Destinations: Follow the road to great books

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Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2007 2:19 pm | Updated: 7:33 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BENSON • You don’t go to the Singing Wind Bookshop just to browse. You go there for the experience.

You go there for the experience.

“It was the thought of going out in the middle of nowhere, and there would be this unusual collection of books,” says Sally Lawrence, a visitor from Albany, N.Y., who came with her father and her sister’s family.

The journey to the Singing Wind Bookshop takes you along a dirt road of the same name to a cattle ranch in Benson where livestock graze in the fields and smoke rises from carefully lit fires. A sign alerting you to the “headquarters for books about the Southwest” is the only indicator that you’re heading in the right direction.

“Readers love books,” says owner Winifred J. Bundy. “They’re like bloodhounds. They go where they can find the books.”

For more than 30 years, readers have followed the scent of new books to Bundy’s store, which is also her home. They come from all over the United States, France, Germany, Russia and Japan for a bit of Western flair. To show her appreciation, Bundy throws a Thanksgiving Fiesta of Books the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day. This year’s fiesta is Nov. 18. Readers will mingle with their favorite

Southwestern authors and listen to the music of the Santa Cruz River Band.

“It’s a party for the readers,” says Bundy. “We’re giving thanks for all the wonderful things we have in music, art, literature and food.”

Bundy’s bookshop attracts major Southwestern authors including Christine Maxa, Richard Shelton and Michael Blake. She has a reputation for integrity (she won’t shop at Wal-Mart) and picks the books in her store based on the quality of writing, not marketing (the bookshop has just about every genre on its shelves).

“I like style, substance,” says Bundy. “If it’s nonfiction, I really want substance. With fiction, I like somebody who’s got a different idea.”

No one would have imagined Singing Wind becoming such a presence in Southwestern literature when Bundy opened the shop 33 years ago.

“They said it was way out in the sticks,” says Bundy. “They said 'you’re nuts.’ ”

Three decades later the shop is still going strong thanks to Bundy. It’s a place so different from the big chain bookstores. There’s no official cash register (just a calculator and a receipt pad), no credit card machine (cash or check please) and no official classification system in the bookshop (it’s all in Bundy’s head).

To help bibliophiles find what they are looking for, Bundy gives a whirlwind tour, pointing out where everything is a nonstop monologue.

“Are we supposed to remember all this?” Lawrence’s sister asks.

“Yeah, there will be a quiz at the end,” says Lawrence, with a wry smile on her face.

Getting there

Take Interstate 10 east to Benson (Exit 304). Turn left onto Ocotillo Road. After the two-mile marker, turn right onto Singing Wind Road. Follow the dirt road to the bookshop.

Thanksgiving Fiesta of Books

What: Meet Christine Maxa, Richard Shelton and other Southwestern authors

When: 1 p.m. Nov. 18

Where: Singing Wind Bookshop, 700 W. Singing Wind Road, Benson

Cost: Free

Information: (520) 586-2425

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