Tegan Tigani discovered Queen Anne Books in 1999, after driving across the country to be with her boyfriend (now her husband). “I pulled through Steven’s Pass on a cold night in February,” she says. “After stretching my limbs and getting a good first night’s sleep in Seattle, Jordan suggested a little tour around our new neighborhood.” The first stop on the tour was the bookstore, and Tigani says it was “love at first sight.”
As they left Queen Anne that day, she said, “Now if I could just find a job in a sweet place like this to help pay the rent until I get my career on track, I’d be happy!”
The next day, there was a sign in the window at the store: BOOK LOVER WANTED. Tigani applied and was hired that day. She’s coming up on her twelfth anniversary at the store.—interview by Doe Tabor
What’s the best thing about being a bookseller? Finding the perfect book for customers. Usually, I know they’ve gone home with a great book, but when I’m certain the book I helped them pick is just the right one for that reader at that time, I just glow.
What have you read recently that you want to press into the hands of your customers? The Renegade Sportsman by Zach Dundas. It was such an unexpected delight—a quirky, perfect celebration of the imperfect. I pride myself on reading widely, but this may be the first book from the Sports section I’ve recommended in eleven years.
What makes your neighborhood and customers unique? I may be biased, but I think our customers are some of the nicest, most fascinating people in the world. Our store has been able to survive because our customers consciously choose to support local businesses. This also means that our neighborhood is full of unique shops, like Blue Highway (a game store), and restaurants, including Le Reve (a French bakery) and El Diablo Coffee (a Cuban coffee shop with food and treats right next to us).
What books have changed your life? I credit this question for getting me into college! My answer from then still holds: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, because it taught me that true goodness is possible even when life throws its worst at you. Mr. Tickle by Roger Hargreaves, because when my parents read it aloud to my sister and me growing up, I realized that books weren’t just words and pictures on a page—they can be wild, wonderful, hilarious experiences to share.
I have to add one by Mikhail Bulgakov to the list. On a second date, a young man and I bought each other a book. He bought me The Master and Margarita. I read it. We discussed it. Thirteen years later, we’re happily married and still sharing book recommendations. That book taught me that you can pick your books, you can pick your love, and you can pick your love’s books.
Can you recommend a book that might be off the radar, ie small press, self-published, backlist, or just plain weird? I have to go for the “just plain weird” category. I love the picture book Socksquatch by Frank W. Dormer about a monster looking for his missing sock. It is absurd, zany and wonderfully weird.
What is the most memorable book event or most entertaining author that you have hosted? Hard question! We have so many delightful authors and dedicated fans. But our event with Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin for Three Cups of Tea when it first came out had that once-in-a-lifetime feeling. The positive energy and sense of discovery at that packed-to-the-rafters signing were incredible.
Every event we’ve had with Jennie Shortridge has been entertaining in a different, creative way. She has provided live music, free lattes and cookies baked fresh in the store. Also, Jennie and her husband moved to our neighborhood after her first tour. Coincidence?
Name three Northwest authors you’d like to invite to dinner. I can’t pick just three!!! Matt Ruff (and, if I could choose the menu, I’d ask for anything Matt Ruff makes—he’s not just an amazing author, he’s a fabulous cook), Stephanie Kallos, Jennie Shortridge, Ivan Doig, Brie Spangler, Kirby Larson, Bonnie Rough, Deb Caletti, Justina Chen Headley, Neal Stephenson, Steve and Carmela D’Amico, Ginger Guy, Jennifer Worick, Heather Davis, Kerry Colburn, Sherman Alexie . . . We have such talented and FUN authors in our region. Could I do a big cocktail party?