Bookstores in Barcelona and Madrid

It’s an unhealthy compulsion, I’m sure, but I have to check out bookstores whenever I encounter them on vacation.  This trip, I justified my browsing by either reading or discarding the three books I packed, and also by finishing all the back issues of The Economist I took.  (Thank you, USAirways and Philadelphia International Airport, for the poor time and runway management! It caused missed connections, wasted 10+ hours of my time, delayed my luggage for two additional days, and cost a fair amount to reschedule other travel, but on the bright side I managed to get through the back issues while fuming in PHL, Heathrow, and Barajas.  I’m fairly confident that if I’d arrived on time, those hours would have been spent doing frivolous, fun touristy things instead.)

Barcelona has several nice independent bookstores located in the La Ribera neighborhood (near the cathedral), as well as Casa del Libro on the Passeig de Grácia (think high end retail like Fifth Avenue), the book section in the El Corte Inglés department store on the Avinguda del Portal de l’Àngel, and FNAC (a French media chain) on the Plaça de Catalunya.   Altaïr on Gran Via specializes in travel books and materials, ranging from maps and guides to fiction about travel.  There’s also an English language bookstore up on Carrer de Roger de Lluria, but I didn’t have time to check it out. (And really, English language books for ex-pats wasn’t really what I was looking for.)  Madrid has a fair number of independent booksellers, too, along with the same chain bookshops.

At Altaïr I bought Andalus by Jason Webster, which I read and then left for another reader at the hotel.  I lusted for several books on the history of southern Spain and planning guides for doing all or parts of the camino de Santiago (on my bucket list) but managed to restrain myself.  The other purchase I made at Altaïr was the in-house travel magazine featuring Peru.  Twin and The Chemist are tentatively planning a trip there (Machu Picchu! The Camino Inca!), and I thought they’d appreciate the photography and information…forgetting that they don’t read Spanish.  I’m an idiot.  The plan is to translate all the captions and articles between now and when I see them next (late March).  Just need to be careful about damaging the magazine as I do so.

Meant to go back to the independent near the city museum for a book on Barcelona’s Roman history but got distracted and never made it back.  Was tempted by children’s books, which I thought might suit some children of my acquaintance.  Popping in to the El Corte Inglés, I intended just to see what the popular fiction available in Catalan and/or Castilian might be but ended up leaving with a translation of Naked in Death (Desnuda antes la muerte).  Did manage to avoid the temptation of Ferran Adria’s El Bulli cookbook.

FNAC had a *huge* graphic novel section, as well as manga.  The YA, unsurprisingly, was also fairly large and dominated by paranormal fiction.  Saw stacks of translations of the Hunger Games series, and of Amanda Hocking’s books (are they YA? that’s where they were shelved).  Lots of fantasy, urban and otherwise, and I was sorry to see zombie/classic mashups prominently shelved. (Meh.) In terms of general fiction, Nordic mystery writers appear to be as popular in Barcelona and Madrid as they are in the US.  Translations into Spanish, Catalan, and English were available for many of the authors Keishon has reviewed.  I was tempted to buy a translation of Ilona Andrews’ Magic Strikes (La magia golpea) but it was ridiculously expensive at €17.50.  Instead, I left with a copy of Camilla Lackberg’s The Stone Cutter and Peter Ackroyd’s translation into modern English of The Canterbury Tales.

Other books on my wishlist now:  El vasco que no comía demasiado by Óscar Terol; Las siete llaves de Balabad by Paul Haven; and Memorias de Idhún by Laura Gallego Garcia.  I’ll probably regret not buying them when I had the chance and wind up paying some insane amount of money to have a copy shipped from Europe if/when I can’t find a copy in the US, which is what happened with Yo, Juan de Austria.

 

ETA:  Bought a little book about the Palau de Música Catalana from the Palau’s giftshop.  And was seriously tempted by books about the art of Velazquez and Goya and the history of the Prado while browsing there.

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2 Comments

Filed under Book related, language generally, spain, spanish, travel

2 responses to “Bookstores in Barcelona and Madrid

  1. Sigh….a day of book shopping in Barcelona sounds like my idea of heaven!

    • jmc

      I didn’t actually spend an entire day book shopping…but I’ll definitely have to try to plan one for my next big vacation 🙂 Mostly I stopped in at whichever bookstore happened to be in the neighborhood I was visiting. And each store had a different personality, which I loved.

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