Looking for something to read?
The selection of books to buy in English in Lima is limited, and expensive.
Certainly Crisol and Ibero are the bookstores to go to for novels in English by
Peruvian authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa or for travel and coffee-table books
on Peru. And Zeta Bookstores carry foreign magazines and offer a subscription
service to US magazines such as Billboard, People and Popular Mechanics.
But you'll find the widest selection of reading material in English at
"community" lending libraries, in the British Cultural Association and the North
American Cultural Institute. And if you enjoy reading in French or German, you
have some equally good sources at the Alliance Francaise and the Goethe Institut.
They all have music and film collections as well, plus Internet, and new
journals and books every month. The annual library fees are nominal, and they
are great places to take your kids after school or on a Saturday morning to
browse, or to do research as they get older, let alone something new to furnish
your bedside table with every week or two.
In the second hand book category, one or two Expatperu members organize book
exchanges and announce them on the email list and forums, and a small book
exchange is fed by travelers at the South American Explorers clubhouse.
The largest selection of second-hand books in Lima, all in English, is available
twice a year at a book fair at the Anglican Good Shepherd Cathedral, usually in
May/June and in September. It is a truly broad selection, quite literally
something for everyone and lots of kids books too, all donated by people who are
leaving Peru or spring-cleaning for their next choices.
British Cultural Library (Asociación Cultural Peruano Británico)
Av. Arequipa 3495, San Isidro. Tel. 221-7550 ext.124
http://www.britanico.edu.pe/ Open Mon-Fri 8:30am-1pm, 2-7:30pm; Sat 9am-12m.
22,000 volumes, includes medical and science journals, pure and applied
sciences, home and lifestyle magazines, children's section, multimedia section,
sheet music, etc.
ICPNA (Instituto Cultural Peruano-Norteamericano)
Av. Arequipa and corner Av. Angamos, Miraflores; and Av. Javier Prado 4637, La
Molina. Tel. 706-7000 Open Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat 8am-6:30pm
24,000 volumes, local and US magazines, newspapers. Film lending library
includes classic American movies, documentaries, children's films.
http://www8.icpna.edu.pe/winnebago/index.asp?lib Even includes a library layout
Av. Arequipa 4595, Miraflores. Tel.
15,000 volumes, broad selection of classics and contemporary work, DVDs, CDs.
Jr. Nazca 722, Jesús María. Tel .433-3180
Printed and audiovisual library. Check opening times before going.
One of my favorite hobbies is reading novels and books. Every time I travel to
Lima, Peru, I don’t miss an opportunity to visit a couple of bookstores and buy
some books, mostly political but also some cooking books. With this post I will
like to help you make your book shopping a safe and rewarding experience. I
tried to divide every section with the different kinds of books that you might
be looking for, so feel free to jump around.
1. Technical Books, Computers and Engineering (Spanish):
If you are looking for computer books your best bet is the intersection between
Avenida Garcilaso de laVega and Jiron Quilca. This section of Lima is also known
as “Wilson” or “Quilca Fairs”. You will find many computer related books here
but also hardware and software, laptops, MP3s, and more. This collection of
streets is located in Cercado de Lima District, which for lack of better words,
is not a tourist-friendly place. It can actually be quite dangerous. I paid my
taxi driver to be my unofficial bodyguard for the whole time I was there. But
the books are so incredible cheap and the selection is fantastic.
2. New Releases and Popular Books and Novels (Spanish):
Novels that are always popular and books in high demand (for example the “Harry
Potter” series or “The Da Vinci Code”) but also books about self-help and
spirituality, and novels from Peruvian writers can be easily found and purchase
from street vendors. Many times, just walking along Avenida Arequipa in Lince is
all I need to find books laying in the middle of the sidewalk spread on top of a
plastic sheet. Before buying make sure to examine the book carefully but don’t
worry if you find it defective later, you can always bring it back, just
remember from whom and where did you purchase the book. There is an additional
convenience, if the seller doesn’t have the book you are looking for, he or she
might offer to find it and bring it the next day, saving you the time to look
for it in bookstores and instead enjoy your vacation.
3. All Kinds of Books (English):
I am going to give you the name of my favorite bookstore, but before I do that,
let me assure you that this is not a paid review, or in any way, shape or form,
endorsed or sponsored by this or any bookstores.