HEAVEN FOR BOOKWORMS

January 2010 rozinlapaz

Remember, the tree is older than you are,
and you might find stories in its branches.
Recuerda, el árbol es mayor que tú
y tal vez encuentres cuentos entre sus ramas.

These are the closing lines of the poem Árbol de Limón, by Mexican-born writer Jennifer Clement. The poem embodies the theme of this anthology, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhich the editor describes as “a bilingual gathering” of poems, stories and pictures from Mexico. The Tree is Older Than You Are is one of a treasure trove of books available in La Paz.

Further down the page is a list of resources for book lovers in La Paz. But first, more about this Spanish-English book. It’s written for children aged 8 and older, but it also will appeal to adults — those who want to learn more about Mexico’s writers and artists, those who want to practise their Spanish, and those who want to explore a sumptuous collection of poetry, folk tales and pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe editor of The Tree is Older Than You Are, published in 1995, is Naomi Shihab Nye, an author from San Antonio, Texas. Nye has been traveling back and forth to Mexico all her life. Among the 61 contributors she has chosen are some emerging writers whose names you may not know; others are powerhouses of Latin American literature, including the seminal writer and Nobel-prizewinner, Octavio Paz. Stories and poems in this collection range in tone from pensive to whimsical:

Nieve/ Snow Cone
Mi madre/ My mother
Me compró/ Bought me
Una luna/ A moon.
La pedí/ I asked
de limón./ For lemon.
Alberto Forcada translated by Judith Infante

This anthology cracks open a doorway to the world of Mexican literature. That’s because a thumbnail biography of each contributor will help enable readers to track down other published work.

de Refranes/ from Proverbs
No hay pájaro que viva triste
(no bird alive can be sad)
Si tiene corazón, canción y alpiste
(If it has a heart, a song, and seed).
Margarita Robleda Moguel translated by Mary Guerrero Milligan

Here are more suggestions of where to find books (and fellow bookworms) in La Paz:

Allende Books

The city’s English-language bookstore is close to Jardin Velasco and the Cathedral, at Independencia #518, between Serdan and G. Prieto (next-door to Ángel Azul B&B). This shop has a little something for everyone. You will find a good selection of books on the Baja and mainland Mexico, as well as current fiction and non-fiction imported from the United States. The store features the Moon and Lonely Planet travel guides, maps, materials for boaters and fishermen (Sea of Cortez Cruiser’s Guide, most recent fishing maps of the waters in the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Coast), Spanish language study materials and dictionaries. There’s an assortment of children’s books, many bi-lingual (that’s where I bought my copy of The Tree is Older Than You Are). There are books featuring Mexico style interior decoration, desert gardening and cookbooks. You will also find many hand-selected gift items from the peninsula, mainland Mexico and Central America. Most books are in English, but there are also some in Spanish. Open Monday through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Phone number: (612)125 9114. Allende Books has a website: Allendebooks.com

Book club: Palabra por Palabra

Allende Books is also a good place to find out more about the La Paz book club, “Palabra por Palabra” – to learn where, when and what book will be discussed at the monthly gathering. The location of club meetings shifts among members’ homes.There’s a discussion each month, usually the first Tuesday of the month at 2 p.m. Go to my Links page for more information.

Club Cruceros’ free book-exchange

This book exchange in the Club Cruceros’ clubhouse is a great place to find beach reads, but you will also encounter the occasional Pulitzer-prize winner and classic. The clubhouse has magazines of a certain vintage and a DVD rental library. While you’re there, consider taking out a membership for $10 (or 100 pesos) per year. Club Cruceros de La Paz is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping less fortunate children of La Paz and to exchanging cruising information. In addition, club members organize a large variety of social activities. Members are mainly ocean cruisers, but landlubbers are welcome, too. Check out their website at . http://www.clubcruceros.org/ or visit the clubhouse at Marina de La Paz.

Librería Educal Libros y Arte

Most reading material is in Spanish. This government-supported bookstore is a Mexican cultural gem when it comes to gift-buying and browsing. The store is at the Centro Cultural La Paz, the Antigua Presidencia Municipal de la Ciudad de la Paz (Avenida 16 de Septiembre at the corner of Belisario Domínguez, (612) 128 94 21). That’s next door to the tourism office. You will find CDs, children’s toys, beautiful T-shirts and art objects, as well as books here. For more information (in Spanish), go to the website at lapaz@educal.com.mx

Ramirez

This large variety store bordering Jardin Velasco (Calle 5 de Mayo 204 (612)1227692) carries everything from chocolates to furniture. The books section is mainly in Spanish, but you will also find some Baja books in English and a shelf or two of English magazines and mass market paperbacks. Their well-stocked shelves of Spanish-language books include dictionaries in Spanish/German, Spanish/French, Spanish/Italian, Spanish/Portuguese.

(originally posted January 2010)