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.
Avenida Malecon de la Reserva 610, Store Number 127 (Miraflores)
Phone: (511) 242-6777
Hours of attention: Monday to Sunday 10am – 10pm
This is by far my favorite book store in Lima. It is located inside Larcomar in Miraflores. It carries a good number of books written in English about Peru covering diverse topics like Peruvian History, Peruvian touristic destinations like Machu Picchu, Nazca and Amazonas, Peruvian Food and Cooking, and novels from Peruvian authors like Mario Vargas Llosa.
I enjoy reading about politics in Peru, specially the period when Alberto Fujimori was President of Peru, but is hard for me to keep track of the different publications and authors. The personnel working in this store has always been very helpful, cordial and knowledgeable in helping me sort the various titles and even made some accurate recommendations. I usually revert to speaking Spanish with them but I am sure someone is fluent in English and will be able to help you. One common curiosity for books in Lima, Peru is that sometimes these books are protected by clear covers, feel free to ask any employee to remove the cover. One last thing, you will find only original books here.
b) Libreria Epoca
Located in Ovalo Gutierrez (Gutierrez roundabout), Miraflores, among restaurants, shopping centers like Wong, and movie theaters you can find this top notch bookstore. This is an attractive area for tourists with lots of things to do and very safe to walk around.
c) Avenida Larco, Miraflores.
There are several bookstores along Avenida Larco in Miraflores. Most of them carry some number of books in English with touristic topics. I had been inside many of them and I can tell you everyone is always friendly and knowledgeable.
Besides the bookstores named above, make sure to ask the Manager at your hotel or taxi drivers for any local “Ferias del Libro” (book fairs). For example, La Feria Internacional del Libro (International Book Fair) takes place from July 23rd to August 5th of 2009 in the Museo de la Nacion (National Museum) and will include more than 150 editorial houses.