One of the best ways of getting to know Lima is by visiting its bookstores. The selection of books available in English might be limited and – at times – a bit expensive, but you can always find great choices if you know where to go.
Íbero Librerías offers an interesting selection of books in English by Peruvian authors such as Mario Vargas LLosa, and internationally acclaimed writers like Joan Didion and Haruki Murakami. You can also find a wide selection of travel and coffee-table books on Peru. Looking for a tranquil afternoon plan in Miraflores? Buy a book at Íbero Librerías in Larcomar, grab a coffee nearby, and read while watching the sunset at the Malecón.
El Virrey, also in Miraflores, is one of the most beautiful bookstores in Lima. Located in an old colonial house, this bookstore is worth a visit even if you don’t plan to buy any books. They have an impressive selection of books in Spanish, and a modest, yet diverse selection of books in English. There is a cat that you can pet, a small interior patio with natural light, and a coffee shop at the front where you can spend hours reading. Really, can this place get any better?
Crisol bookstores is also a good option for those trying to find a quick read. The great thing about this bookstore chain is that you can find one at almost any shopping mall in Lima, making it easy to just hang out for a little while before going to the movies, or do some quick browsing while out running errands.
Zeta bookstores, with various locations in Lima and one in arequipa, is another great option for buying books in English. They also carry foreign magazines.
Community Libraries and Second-hand Books in Lima
If you can’t find the books you’re looking for at any of the stores mentioned above, you can always visit some of the community libraries at international cultural centers, such as the British Cultural Library (Asociación Cultural Peruano Británico) and the North American Cultural Institute – ICPNA (Instituto Cultural Peruano-Norteamericano).
And if you enjoy reading in French or German, you have some equally good sources at the Alliance Francaise and the Goethe Institut. They all have music and film collections as well, plus wifi, and new journals and books every month. The annual library fees are nominal, and they are great places to take your kids after school or on a Saturday morning to browse, or to do research for school.
In the second-hand book category, a great option is B Libros Barranco. B Libros organizes book sales at incredibly cheap prices, and offer books in both, English and Spanish.
Now, our personal favorite location for stocking up on English-language books also offers the largest selection of second-hand books in Lima. It is the book fair at the Anglican Good Shepherd Cathedral. The fair is held four times a year, usually in March, June, September and December. There is a huge selection of books for old and young alike. The church receives a lot of donations from expats leaving the country, or spring cleaning their bookshelves to make room for the next good read. It’s worth mentioning that the church uses the money they raise to help fund community outreach programs.