El Día del Libro/World Book Day

Today is International Day of the Book. Who knew? Certainly not us Americans, unless something changed since I left the States a year and a half ago. But here in Spain, people really celebrate el Día del Libro. This might be because Spanish people love festivities in general. It could be because the celebration was the idea of a Spanish writer, as a way to honor Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who died on April 23. (So did Shakespeare.) It could be because April 23 is St. George’s Day; Saint George/Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalunya; the day is marked by giving gifts of roses and books.

It wasn’t until I saw a woman carrying a single rose down the street today that I remembered what day it was.

Monument to Spanish author Juan Valera. His character “Pepita Jimenez” sits at his feet, book open on her lap.

In 2014,  Madrid had 16 books stores per 100K people, more than NY (10), Paris (9), and London (4). A few weeks ago, I set out to count how many bookstores there were just in our tiny neighborhood, but I gave up after I got to eight.

Street art by Primo Banksy; tribute to poet Federico García Lorca.

I’m off to buy books. Happy World Book Day.

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