Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road this past summer for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. We took a little break from sharing tales of their travels, but please join us again for the journey…
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — After a twelve hour drive from Portland to the Great Salt Lake, I was feeling a little bit lonely. I covered most of the trip at night and my relationship with Lucky had become a little strained. It turns out, though, that the Great Salt Lake has a little island in it, and on that little island was a strapping young Bison who wanted to get to know me. He was taking his breakfast five feet off the road, so I stopped and chatted for a while. His name was Harold, and he had no idea how he ended up on a secluded island in the middle of a buoyant lake. But he was living it up anyway. Apparently it’s hard to say no to a life of sun-bathing, munching grass, and romping around with your Bison friends.
Eventually I said my goodbye to Harold and, after a scare where I thought my wonderous beauty of a car, Plata, was breaking down (of course she wasn’t, nothing can break Plata) I made my way into Salt Lake City to visit The King’s English Bookshop. At first I thought I had the wrong address, because my GPS directed me into a residential neighborhood. In actuality, The King’s English does sit mere steps away from houses, and now every time I step foot in my house I just think of how lucky all those Salt Lakers are. An independent bookstore as your community’s meeting place with brilliant author events and tons of cozy nooks to read in? Every time I think about it I get a fresh punch of jealousy in my gut. Don’t take this store for granted, Salt Lake City. You have no idea how lucky you are.
General Manager Anne Holman and Owner Betsy Burton took the time to answer the Algonquin Questionnaire.
When did The King’s English open?
What was in this location before The King’s English?
It’s actually a bit of a funny story. There were three offices where The King’s English stands right now and I [Betsy] along with a friend rented out two of the offices as space to write novels. Nothing ever came of the novels, but we eventually started using the space as our libraries and discussing the possibility of opening a store. And once we opened the store and the community showed interest in it we grew and took over the space next door which actually used to be a gas station—that explains why the shape of the Children’s Section is a little odd.
What is the funniest book on your shelves?
What is the oddest non-book item in your store?
We have these awesome pins from a really popular cartoonist in SLC. His name is Pat Bagley, and he also has a couple books that sell well here in the store.
What is your favorite Algonquin book and your favorite recommendation for the Summer?
The runaway favorite from Algonquin is The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison. In fact, it’s sitting on our staff recommendations right now. Our opinions for the Summer are more diverse. We liked Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and John Le Carre’s recent release, A Delicate Truth. There was also Bad Monkey, Norwegian By Night, and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, not to overload you with answers.
What is the most visited area of the store?
In general we have to say the entrance hallway near the front desk. It really has become a community gathering place. More specifically, we have a storyteller, Rob, who comes in some Thursdays, and when that happens everything else just stops. He specializes in Dr. Seuss books, but the way he reads them is otherworldly. Parents bring their kids for the reading but by the third page even the adults are entranced.
Next stop: Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colo.
*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…