Cafebrería El Péndulo

One thing that has been a surprise to me as a father of a Spanish speaking child in California, is the limited offer of good Spanish children’s books we have there. One would think, with such a huge Spanish speaking population, that there would be a market to feed? And yes, there are quite a lot of books in the stores and the libraries, but here’s the thing: most of them — and this is clear even to me who’s mastery of the Spanish language is caveman-like — most of them are very badly translated from English. There’s clearly a lot of dictionary-look-up-translations there, and dictionary-look-up-translations don’t work. They are published by US publishing houses, and usually translated by somebody (I’m guessing) who’s first language is English and who haven’t known Spanish for too long. When I read these books to my son I can tell the translation is bad because of the lack of flow in the text, even as I don’t understand everything I read.

Therefore, when we go abroad we like to look for books which are actually published by publishing houses in Spanish speaking countries. In Mexico, Conaculta  (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes) is one name to look for.

El Viaje a Mictlan. A trilingual edition from Conaculta (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes).

It’s also exciting to see that the death of book stores might be more prevalent in USA then many other places, because there’s seems to be quite a choice to pick from when trying to decide which bookstore to make the day’s destination. We chose one called Cafebrería El Péndulo in the Polanco neighborhood. There’s a restaurant on the premises, and a café … in fact I’m not sure if it is primarily a book store or a place to eat, but I know it doesn’t matter to me. Great room, great atmosphere, great selections. El Péndulo has several branches in D.F., which makes me happy to know.

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One Comment

Rita Exposito

Amazing! I could spend every day of my vacation in a place like this! I wish I had given your dad some “Jackson money” to buy some books for the second grade class!

Joaquin, it warms my heart to see you so very interested in the Spanish books. They are very special and will teach you about the culture of the people as well as help you practice the language.

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