About 45 minutes outside of Tucson, down a long, desert drive with mountain views on all sides is the Singing Wind Bookshop. My parents had discovered it several years ago, and as a Lover Of Books I was fascinated by their story of their encounter with the little bookshop in the middle of the desert. I had to see it for myself.
Entering to the enthusiastic greeting of an old but friendly black and white dog whose happy tail thumped my leg like a little kid looking for candy, I nearly swoon at the sight of rooms and rooms of floor-to-ceiling books. Rough hewn shelves of natural beauty, hand rubbed to a luster, hold endless volumes of books. But forget Dewey Decimal – the organization here is by subject, and known to the book by owner and librarian Winn (short for Winifred) Bundy. Winn, slight and bursting with energy, greets you at the door and launches right into “the tour”.
The tour is a remarkable twenty minutes, following Winn through each room of the store as she explains how the books are categorized by subject, with a heavy lean toward all things Southwest. Row after row, shelf after shelf, she explains the topical start and stop points. Her patter is informed and often funny. I start to wonder if she’s read every book – an impossible task, and yet she not only knows where each book is, but also author and plot and place in history.
“I notice none of your shelves are marked with the topics, why is that?” I heard one customer ask. “Take a look at these shelves,” said Winn, “what do you see? They are too beautiful to ruin by putting labels on them.” And they are. She points out one shelf where “all the little books go so I can find them. They are small, but there is some great writing in those books.”
The bookstore features Lawrence Clark Powell, a famous (to librarians) librarian, literary critic, and author of over 100 books. His books on the Southwest are displayed on main table in the back room, along with his audio recordings.
Store manager and local author Kathy Suagee (whose recent book on Benson, AZ can be found here) was on site as she and Winn Bundy worked on a upcoming event. The Singing Wind Bookshop also hosts free readings and music by cowboy poets, fiction writers, and western historians throughout the year.
To visit Singing Wind yourself, drive 2 1/4 miles north from the heart of Benson on Ocotillo Road, then take a right on Singing Wind Road and drive down about 1/2 mile to the ranch house. The bookshop is at 700 W. Singing Wind Road, 520/586-2425, and is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, including most holidays).