I feel like I’m cheating on my home city of Portland by calling BA a “city of books.” I’ve only been here a few days but I feel so at home, in part because of the librerias every few blocks. This cosmopolitan city is full of bookworms and there are new and used booksellers everywhere. I love the site of dusty book stalls full of old volumes in Spanish.
The ultimate stop for books and spectacular beauty is El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Recoleta neighborhood. El Ateneo is the largest bookstore in Latin America (although still smaller than Powell’s or even most Borders I’ve been to at home) but quite possibly the most beautiful in the world. El Ateneo is housed in an old movie theater modeled in the early 20th century after the Opera Garnier in Paris. Splendid! My daughter Grace and I browsed its elegant floors one at a time in the company of my friend Amy. I managed to emerge from its wealth of literature with only a Spanish kids word book for Grace, mainly due to the small size of the store’s English section and my lack of desire to read a full novel in Spanish while on vacation. But I left in awe of this city’s love of the printed word and elegance.
Grace explores the shelves of El Ateneo