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. Join us for the journey…
RALEIGH, North Carolina — Departing from Richmond and heading south there was only one thing on my mind: Oh, it’s good to be back. My road trip was grand and the sights were extraordinary, but after two months in other states, I was ready to see the sweet green hills of my home state. I kept moving south with my excitement mounting, crossing over the state line with a whoop of joy. When I managed to sneak in to the outer limits of Raleigh, I was struck by a feeling that I hadn’t come upon in weeks. Familiarity. I was driving on roads I’d seen before, riding slopes whose curves I knew. New is great, but a little hint of home can go a long way.
But just because I was back in North Carolina didn’t mean I was ready to stop visiting bookstores. Au contraire. Now that I was back on my old stomping grounds I had an inside track on some great stores to include on the tour. The first stop had to be Quail Ridge Books & Music, a powerhouse independent in Raleigh that has found a way to meld book groups, children’s books, music, Southern literature, amazing Reader’s Club deals and all the fiction or non-fiction you’d want into a single cohesive store. I’ve spent many an hour browsing these aisles and though my wallet is lighter for it, I can easily say both time and money are incredibly well spent at Quail Ridge.
General Manager Sarah Goddin and former owner (of 28 years!) Nancy Olsen answered the Algonquin Questionnaire.
Our store opened in October of 1984. It was a few miles from where we are located now, though.
What inspired the name Quail Ridge?
That first location I mentioned was actually in a place called Quail Corner and back then our name was Books at Quail Corner. But ten years after we opened we moved to our current location in the neighborhood of Ridgewood. So, we wanted to pay homage to our roots and recognize our new home so we changed the name to Quail Ridge.
What is the rarest book at Quail Ridge Books & Music?
Just recently we had a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling which, as you might have heard, was written by J.K. Rowling under the pen name of Robert Galbraith. Before anybody knew that Galbraith was actually Rowling, she signed some copies using her pen name and we actually had one of those copies. Once the news broke those books obviously skyrocketed in value, but we had sold ours before that. We also have lots of signed copies of David Sedaris books. He’s from Raleigh and is a friend of Nancy’s so we get to schedule a lot of events with him.
What is your favorite Algonquin book and favorite summer read?
We both love Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons and Nancy definitely likes Raney from Clyde Edgerton. And I think The Last Days of Summer is a great read for the summer, as the name implies. Nancy was on a bit of a non-fiction kick this summer and she’s been recommending The Unwinding a lot. It’s a great history of the last 30 years of the U.S.
What is the most visited section of the store?
We have a bit of a specialty in Southern fiction and non-fiction so our Southern section attracts a lot of attention. We also have big tables out front with bestsellers and a shelf of award winners that are quite popular in their own rights.
Next stop: Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
*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…