The Bibliophile Tourist

By Jade Arroyo

If you share the Borges-like conception of paradise “in the form of a library,” this information is for you. Both outdoor activities and social spaces converge in San Miguel, a place for reflection and imagination. It’s a place that can be very special for both readers and writers to find inspiration, silence, and to pick up an idea for a plot.

Here are some ideas to please your bookworm heart.

La Biblioteca

The Biblioteca (public library) has an extensive collection of books and movies in Spanish and English, plus some interesting volumes in French and German.

This is little sanctuary in the heart of downtown that offers a respite of tranquility and freshness to passers stunned by the activity of dancing mojigangas and booming rockets.

This is the second largest library of English books in Mexico, and it is also dedicated to enriching the lives of San Miguel students with its scholarship program and free classes in art and culture. The labyrinthine building contains a quiet courtyard, a reading room, a small theater and film forum, a computer center that offers instruction and wireless internet, a café, and a book shop with local souvenirs.

We love the poetry room located at the back of the library. Don’t forget to visit it.
Insurgentes 25, open Monday to Friday 10 am–7pm, and Saturdays from 10 am–2pm.

Writers’ Festival and Literary Sala San Miguel

This is an annual celebration in mid-February, inviting Spanish- and English-speaking authors to a bilingual conference, workshops, advice, and activities related to the world of literature. The festival awards grants to emerging writers. To check this information and to register for the festival, visit festivalescritores.org.

A part of the festival that continues throughout the year is the Literary Sala, located at the El Nigromante Cultural Center (also known as Bellas Artes). It presents different readings of poetry, literature, and essays featuring both Mexican and international authors. This organization also offers free public activities and is involved in literacy programs. All activities are bilingual. To learn more about the activities, visit sanmiguelliterarysala.org

Located within the El Nigromante Cultural Center, Hernández Macías 75.

Where to buy books

Educal library

This bookstore run by the INBA, though small, has a good sampling of contemporary books and very good books on art, architecture, and Mexican folk art. When you’re here, take the opportunity to have a tour of the amazing fine arts venue, with its changing art exhibits and frescoes and murals. Hernández Macías 75.

Second-hand book sale every Thursday at the Biblioteca

The smell of old books is the most delightful and charming non-bottled aroma for booklovers. Every Thursday morning, there is a sale of secondhand books in the library courtyard. Books vary as to topics, language, and size. All are available at super affordable prices. If you’re lucky, you can find special old volumes or perhaps the book that will change your life. If you are looking for support material to start practicing a second language, this is an excellent place to go.

Throughout the week, you can find specialized books on Mexican literature and art and selected used books in the Biblioteca tienda just inside the main door on the left.

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