Day before yesterday, I encountered a bunch of tents housing book stalls in La Plaza Cívica. This is the other big square in the city first constructed in 1555. It is dominated now by the big statue of General Allende, hero of the war for independence from Spain. Joachim and Bärbel had tipped me off about these book stalls. They assured me that there were some books there in English.
I have yet to find any sort of bookstore in San Miguel de Allende, even one carrying only books in Spanish. There is a little book department in the Mega Store, but I am sure you can imagine what that is like. The cost of international shipping from some internet operation like amazon.com is stiff.
First concerning my book box. I brought with me a box, actually a plastic tub with a lid, with a few selected books in it. Not many books. I have weight concerns with this little camper trailer and a four-cylinder truck. I have read them all, a couple twice, with two exceptions. The first exception is Proust. However, with the Proust the intent is not to finish the book. I have been scratching a little, pecking a little in Proust for a long time, and I will continue to scratch a little, peck a little into the foreseeable future.
The other exception is a novel entitled A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It is an Indian novel in the sense of Indian Indian, an “International Best Seller.” I bought that book just before leaving. I do not know what crossed my mind. It is 1,474 pages long. That in itself would not be a problem but for this fact. I have never read a novel, or even a short story, by any Indian Indian author that I truly enjoyed. The purchase of that book is an eloquent comment on my mental discombobulation at the time. I was not in my right mind obviously. I may never start that Indian Indian novel. Therefore, I was in effect out of books of my own here.
Our friend Sheila about to go to India for an extended stay to do good work by the way. I look forward to following her blog about that. I really do. Sheila's account will add highly to the interest factor, I am sure. India is fascinating, although I have no desire to go myself.
Then there is La Biblioteca Publica, the bilingual public library. I thoroughly enjoy going there to read because of the antique beauty of the place and the people watching on the side. I have not yet obtained a library card for the reason that I prefer to read there rather than bring books home. There is one big problem with that, however. La Biblioteca Publica boasts a collection of the most uncomfortable chairs ever assembled in one location by man in the history of civilization. Incredible!
If only I had a rich philanthropic friend whom I could persuade to send some money for chairs for the public library here. I would pick out those chairs for him or her and personally deliver them to the public library in his or her name with my pickup.
There were indeed some books in English at the book sale. This is the one stack of them. It was a real potpourri of fiction and and nonfiction, the vast majority of which was of no interest to me. I did score an old edition of three short novels by E.M. Forster for 30 pesos ($2.31 American). I am reading that now.
Again, the Mexican people are not great readers of books. And again also, this was explained to me by a delightful older Mexican lady whose very profession involves encouraging Mexican children to read more books. I do not claim to know whether what she is doing is a good thing or a bad thing.