If you know where to look in Mexico City, you’ll find plenty of bookstores championing titles by indie editorials or lesser-known authors, as well as a plethora of second hand shops brimming with well-loved books in both English and Spanish. Of course, if you don’t know where to look, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Gandhi and Porrúa were the only places to buy books in the capital.
Enter: this brief guide to five of my favourite indie bookstores in Mexico City.
Whether you want coffee table titles, feminist literature or are looking to discover under-the-radar writers, these are the places I most recommend. And no, I haven’t included any bookstores from the famed Calle Donceles in the Centro Histórico, mostly because: 1) I wanted to include librerías I go to or buy from regularly (yes, the list skews Roma-Condesa) and 2) I wanted places with an online presence. Because…well, you know why.
(If you’re reading this in the future, google ‘2020’ and shudder in horror.)
Indie Bookstores in Mexico City
Best for feminist literature and women-authored titles
It was my friend Molly who first told me about U-tópicas, the feminist bookstore located in the Mexico City borough of Coyoacán. Known for stocking a wide-range of women-authored books from Latin America and beyond — including several key feminist texts in translation and an impressive amount of LGBTQII+ literature — U-tópicas also hosts online workshops, talks and courses and has a cracking Instagram account full of book recommendations for (nearly) every possible interest.
Best for used books in English and Spanish
I already regret including El Hallazgo in this post because it is my FAVOURITE used bookstore in Mexico City and just [redacted] blocks away from my flat. I don’t want to let everyone in on my dirty little second-hand books secret and yet, I couldn’t not include a store that has literal piles of books in front of their window and the kind of creaky, packed to the rafters appeal that means I go in for one book and leave with half a dozen. El Hallazgo’s regular sales and reductions are an added bonus.
Best for finding books from indie editorials
Casa Tomada — a compact event space and bookstore in Condesa — has perhaps the most robust collection of Mexican small press and indie editorial titles of any bookstore listed here, from Almadía to Paraíso Perdido. I recommend starting with Casa Tomada if you’re looking for an obscure book you just haven’t been able to track down anywhere else. Plus, like U-tópicas, Casa Tomada also offers courses, workshops and book-ish events both in-person and online.
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Llegaron reposiciones de ensayos feministas de varias editoriales increíbles como @traficantes_libreria , @tintalimonediciones y @capitan_swing_libros. Pueden hacer un pedido en línea o pasar a vernos de lunes a jueves entre las 12 y las 16 h. Gracias a @lenguaraz_distribuye ✨
Under the Volcano
Best for used English-language books
If you’re specifically looking for English-language books in Mexico City, then Under The Volcano — which is relocating from Condesa to Coyoacán in 2021 — is widely considered the best spot in the city. Owned by American transplant Grant Cogswell, Under The Volcano may not be the best place to find on-trend titles or incredibly obscure works of fiction, but (in my experience) there’s generally a robust stock of ‘classics’, as well as a decent rotation of recent-ish releases and genre fiction. Plus the owner is always open to buying your used English-language books for a fair price.
Best for coffee table tomes about art and design
Of all the places listed here, Casa Bosques is the indie bookstore with which I’m admittedly the least familiar, mostly because the titles carried here are your typical one-off purchases, coffee table-topping texts that you’re probably not going to be buying every week. Even so, it’s the best place to browse hardback art, architecture and photography titles or pick up an indie magazine or two. And they sell chocolate.
If you’ve ever read anything on my other blog, Northern Lauren, you’ll know that short and snappy posts aren’t exactly my forte. I would apologise but I don’t see the need — I just love to be thorough! So, please gratefully accept the following Mexico City indie bookstore honourable mentions: Aeromoto (a haven for zine and alt-lit lovers in La Juárez) and La Murcielága (a first edition book dealer working out of La Navarte).