Article by Allison W.
Yesterday we took a short field trip to Río Piedras so I could go book-shopping. I'm a closet voracious reader and the only way to get books from the island is to go shopping here, or at least until the bookstores get their act together and start selling them online (one has already started – but I'll get to that in a minute.)While I'm guessing there are bookstores all around the island, the only ones I know of and the ones that are most familiar to Puerto Ricans in the metro area are the ones in Río Piedras. Because the University of Puerto Rico's main campus is located there, bookstores have been built all around it. I really do mean all around it--the streets right off of campus have plenty of bookstores. Not surprising since the university publishes nearly all the books about the island.
First we stopped in this one in the photo; I can't remember its name for the life of me. Yes, it was incredibly disorganized and dusty. My friend with asthma couldn't even come in. This is my favorite kind of bookstore, though, since you don't know what you're going to find. There were a lot of older books which caught my eye, with pages so old they were disintegrating. But I was specifically looking for Puerto Rican books, which they had in the very back.
Then we headed to Librería Isla, which is an exceptional bookstore for 3 reasons: 1, it was organized, 2, they have a website, and 3, central air conditioning. I would bet it was the only place with it on the street, if not the whole neighborhood. Awesome. Anyways, it was a really nice store and I would recommend it.
So I bet now you're wondering which books I got. Here's a list in some sort of order:
Arqueología linguística: Estudios modernos dirigidos al rescate y reconstrucción del arahuaco taíno, Manuel Álvarez Nazario
El habla campesina del país: Orígenes y desarrollo del español en Puerto Rico, Manuel Álvarez Nazario
Estudios de lexicología antillana, José Juan Arrom
Lengua, identidad nacional y posmodernidad: Ensayos desde el Caribe, Carmen Centeno
Esclavos, prófugos y cimarrones: Puerto Rico, 1770-1870, Benjamin Nistal-Moret
Historia de la esclavitud negra en Puerto Rico, Luis M. Díaz Soler
La mujer negra en la literatura puertorriqueña, Marie Ramos Rosado
Los otros cuerpos: antología de temática gay, lésbica y queer desde Puerto Rico y su diáspora
Dos centimetros de mar, Carlos Vázquez Cruz
Vida y obra de Luis Llorens Torres, Nilda S. Ortiz García
La guagua aérea, Luis Rafael Sánchez
Felices días Tío Sergio, Magali García Ramis
Las Horas del Sur, Magali García Ramis
Esperando a Loló, Ana Lydia Vega
Falsas crónicas del sur, Ana Lydia Vega
La cabeza, Pedro Cabiya (brand new and recommended to me)
Before anyone objects, this isn't meant to be a list advising people on what books to start with if they want to learn more about the island. These are specifically books that fit the following criteria: I don't already own them/I can't get them easily from the local library, the subjects are interesting to me, and they are unavailable online. Actually, if I had to compose a list of books to start with, it would look similar to this list from before, give or take a few... mostly give since that is a really short list. If anyone has any suggestions, English or Spanish, I'd happily make it.
Anyways, I'm eating the most juicy and delicious mango I've ever had in my life as we speak! Sorry, but I had to share. You can't go wrong with a combination of perfect fruit and great reads (unless, of course, the fruit gets in the book... happens more than I'd like to admit).