Bogota is the Athens of Latin America, filled with gorgeous old bookstores, literary cafes, second-hand bookstalls and poets’ haunts. But even though writers, readers and all-round book lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a “book haven” in the capital, they do like to keep them secret. Here are some of our favorites:
Torre de Babel (Cr 8 # 16 – 14)
This grand old mansion, built in 1895, is now a used book store and boasts more than 250,000 titles, making it the largest second-hand book store in the country. Famed Colombian philosopher Nicolas Gómez Dávila was born here in 1913, giving the house its own role in Bogota history. And book lovers will find plenty of natural light to hunt for their next purchase, for the house has 24 huge windows, each with its own balcony. Torre de Babel stocks books in several languages too. (You can also read: Top five foreign books about Colombia)
Luvina (Cr 5 # 26a – 06)
Luvina is a much-loved Bogota haunt, as much for its author recitals and literary events as the wine and chocolate cake served in its heart, where staff scale tall ladders to reach the highest shelves. Luvina has been at the center of the city’s artistic quarter, La Macarena, for the best part of a decade now and focuses on novels, short stories and poetry, although there is a large selection of biographies, essays and texts on politics, philosophy and economics. Luvina stocks many bilingual books.
Casa Tomada (Transversal 19Bis # 45d – 23)
Casa Tomada is a book lover’s refuge from the world. The store, “House Taken Over” in English, has been part of the bohemian revival of Bogota’s Teusaquillo neighborhood since it opened seven years ago. It’s full to the brim with books and holds reading clubs and creative workshops as well as housing many a wannabe writer in its cosy little café. Casa Tomada stocks literary works, biographies, philosophy, history and children’s books. (You can also read: Gabo beyond One Hundred Years of Solitude)
The Book Hotel (Cr 5 # 57 – 79)
There’s no better place for a book lover to stay than this beautiful Chapinero Alto hotel, which combines old-fashioned Bogota elegance with a modern design and shelves and shelves of books. The hotel is a firm favorite on the capital’s literary scene thanks to its classic reading room, complete with cosy fireplace. The hotel’s bookstore is run by renowned Bogota bookseller La Madriguera del Conejo, which hosts readings and literary events and stocks books in many languages.
San Librario (Clle 70 # 12 – 48)
Quinta Camacho is a Bogota neighborhood lost in time, with its old-style English houses and flair for European cuisine. It’s also home to San Librario, a Bogota “book temple” which occupies one of those grand old houses but is so full of gems, it’s near impossible to navigate. Beware what you seek in its towering stacks too. San Librario is dedicated to “pure literature”. You won’t find medical dictionaries or hastily-scribbled chaff here. (You can also read: The most representative Colombian writers)
It’s clear that if you’re a book lover seeking refuge, the answer is Colombia. If you liked this article, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any of your social networks.