Barcelona vies only with Madrid for the title of most cultured city in Spain, and the Catalan capital’s literary scene is full of life. Barcelonian bibliophiles are well served by a host of independent bookshops, many of which double as modern-day literary salons. From antiquarian tomes in Latin to graphic novels and sci-fi, these ten neighborhood shops are the best places for finding books in Barcelona.
Altaïr’s travel noticeboard | © Jorge Franganillo/Flickr
Altaïr is a haven for all bibliophiles, but especially for those with wanderlust. With two floors packed with travel books, comfy armchairs for lounging and plenty of quiet corners perfect for browsing, it’s all too easy to spend an entire afternoon here. There’s a practical section full of maps and handy travel guides, and a huge array of travel literature from around the world, from Kerouac to Kapuscinski and everything in between. The staff is helpful and friendly, and though the English language stock is limited there’s a great selection of Anglophone alternative guides to Barcelona, from books on walking tours to the city’s street fashion. You’ll also find a noticeboard on which travellers advertise for companions, a selection of beautiful coffee-table books and plenty of travel essentials like Moleskin notebooks.
Altair, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 616, Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 42 71 71
The Raval may be slowly but surely gentrifying, but El Lokal cultural association remains resolutely true to the neighborhood’s edgy spirit. Tucked down a side street, this is the place for bibliophiles of an alternative bent, as it specializes in all things counter-culture, from pamphlets on radical feminism to hefty tomes on revolutionary theory. There’s a special section on resistance movements worldwide, as well as a wealth of vintage punk-rock zines tucked between the shelves dedicated to anarchist and Marxist theory. While you won’t find anything in English, just Catalan and Spanish, non-Catalan and Spanish speakers can amuse themselves by flicking through the collection of punk vinyl or checking out the handmade books by local artists and activists.
El Lokal, Carrer de la Cera 1, Barcelona, Spain, +34 93 3290643
Lletraferit is much more than just a bookshop. A store, cocktail parlor, library and teashop all rolled into one, this Raval venue is a bastion of the Barcelona literary scene. Translated from Catalan, the name means ‘literature lover’, appropriate for a venue that functions as the library of your dreams; settle into one of the leather armchairs and spend the whole afternoon reading (no need to buy!) and sipping vermouth. While there are titles in Catalan, Spanish and English, French speakers are best served, as the owner is the son of French actress Jean Seberg. With regular literary evenings and readings by local authors, a trip to Lletraferit is a must for Barcelona booklovers.
Lletraferit, Carrer de Joaquín Costa 43, Barcelona, Spain, +34 93 317 8130
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