Written by Sr. Sylvia Jopillo,r.a.
La Feria del Libro de Madrid 2022
After a two-year absence from the Covid pandemic, La Feria del Libro de Madrid returned!
In its 81st year, the book fair ran from 27 May to 12 June, occupying the entire stretch of Paseo de Coches until the Rosaleda within the Retiro Park with 378 kiosks offering all kinds of books, expositions, book signings by authors, and impromptu poetry readings.
A long gallery of book stands fills the air with the smell of books. People who felt the nostalgia for paper strongly mobbed the opening day!
The 81st Feria's leitmotif is Journey. It pointed to the experience of reading books as immersive and taking one of the ordinary experiences into another time and a different universe.
Reading entices the mind and heart into mysterious communion with a world entirely alien to one's own.
It makes daily life surface existence with Alice in Wonderland's rabbit holes in some unexpected corners.
It takes one on a journey with a favorite companion, even a cat! In comic style, the winning poster for the Feria illustrates a young girl traveling through space with a book accompanied by an ever-loyal cat
This year's offering included a wide array of comics like Asterix, Tintin, George Shultz's Peanuts, and all types of animes and Japanese mangas, all in Spanish.
Novels, classic and contemporary poetry, literary titles, history, travel, cooking, children's and youth literature, technical books on Greek and Latin, war, science, feminist literature, and practically all the topics under the sun all grace the Feria.
At the end of the Feria's run, the organizers reported 3.2 million visitors and 1.2 million euros in sales. So, the people came to visit, to browse and buy books.
A group of school children escorted by their teachers promptly engaged the seller of children's books with their requests and questions.
Old couples sauntered with their paper bags filled with books, and young mothers pushing their baby prams stopped to browse and have their poetry books signed by the author. Young tourists with their backpacks hang out at the comic book kiosks flipping pages and finding a book to bring home.
I walked along the kiosks, often stopping to browse and touch the books. They all smell like trees! Then amid all the offerings, my eyes fell on a slim volume of Sosuke Natsukawa's "A Cat Who Saved Books".
My first time encountering his name, but the slim volume's title caught my curiosity. It is a volume that honors bookstores and books!
It tells the story of a young student who inherited an old second-hand bookshop after the death of his grandfather and his wise and witty tabby, whose singular mission is to save their beloved books from the book haters.
How can a boy and a cat do that? Quite interesting as I browse through the pages.
The Cat Who Saved Books
I take my book to a park bench and crack it open. It was already 1:00 pm, so the kiosks started to close, and the sellers went to lunch until 4 pm.
I settled on my bench, munching my sandwich as I read about the boy, his cat, and their mission. When I look up from the book, the kiosks are re-opening. More people are coming in, sauntering into the park, ready for another round of book findings! I gather my new books into my canvas bag to head for the gate and the bus stop for my ride home.
Contented and happy to spend a day in a book fair with thousands of people and books in a city known as the book capital of the world. By the way, the 81st Feria del Libro de Madrid is directed by a woman, a first in its long history!
Where the La Feria del Libro de Madrid Was
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