Bookstores have long been a sanctuary for me. When I was 21 and working in my first job in London I would go to Borders on Oxford street on Friday evenings and spend hours in there scanning the aisles and reading in the comfy chairs. I was upset when they shut Borders and opened a massive clothing shop in its place. Around that time a lot of physical bookstores were closing down in the UK having been unable to compete with the online competition. When I moved to Buenos Aires and saw that the city was jammed packed with bookstores I was very excited and I soon singled out my favourites, which in my opinion are the best bookstores in Buenos Aires.
+ El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Av. Santa Fe 1860
Al Ateneo is a chain of bookstores in Buenos Aires but this particular branch is its most famous. Built in a grand old theatre close to the centre of the city, the audience pit has been filled with shelves of books and the stage converted into a cafe. There are little reading nooks in the stalls and the original beautifully painted ceiling has been maintained, just visiting that bookshop is an experience in itself. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires and didn’t understand one bit of spanish I used to visit quite frequently just to soak up the bookish air. Being there inspired me to learn more so that I would have access to all of those books. In that sense I feel as though this bookshop is the reason I’m able to read in Spanish.
+ Libros del Pasaje, Thames 1762
Libros del Pasaje in Palermo stocks a wide selection of Spanish and Latin-American literature, non- fiction and foreign language books (including english, hooray). The english language section is small but a really good mix of classics and contemporary fiction. There is always something there that I want to read. The walls are lined from floor to ceiling with books and there is a cafe at the back where you can relax, have a coffee and read your book. Incidentally that cafe serves the best scones I’ve eaten in this city.
+ Walrus Books, Estados Unidos 617
When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, and I couldn’t read Spanish, Walrus books was my saviour. Tucked away in the suburb of San Telmo, Walrus books is a secondhand english language book shop that both buys and sells books. They also run literature workshops in the evenings. Walrus is small but they have a good selection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and criticism. I must admit I go to Walrus less and less these days, mainly due to location and in part due to the fact that as it’s quite small I find it hard to find something I haven’t read that I want to read. However it will always be my first bookstore love in this city.