In Librovejero, Álvaro Castillo Granada shows what it is like to choose books as a life project and create stories from experience with writers and clients
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Just a few days ago I started working at the National Bookstore as a bookseller, I had already worked in other bookstores in the city of Medellin such as Panamericana and Hispanic Editions Bookstore, and the National offered an experience of more than 80 years of experience in everything related with the book, and its respective sale to public of all ages.
I had graduated from university as a professional in philosophy and wanted to be a high school teacher, and then specialize to be a researcher at a university. But in a country like Colombia not having work experience and deciding to study Humanities is a high risk that must be paid. But the books waited for me with the pages and doors open again.
Giving me the opportunity to delve into this infinite world, walking through the different sections of the National Bookstore, headquarters of the shopping center, the treasure of Medellín, a huge two-story headquarters.
A space where mysticism is breathed and that hides many stories in its wooden shelves. I walk around the bookstore receiving instruction and induction from my colleagues and colleagues, booksellers who have graduated in this trade for years and even decades in this noble trade. I see the faces of customers who buy all kinds of books, ask us for advice and ask about a particular book, be it the latest publishing novelty or some classic text on philosophy, literature or esotericism.
Customers look at the books, and I know they’d like to stay longer than the system allows. And sometimes they envy booksellers, because they think they spend all day reading. But the reality is contrary to the imaginary. I keep going through the sections. Self-improvement, spirituality, business, philosophy, environment, law, politics, history, world literature, children’s literature, Latin American literature, and just in Colombian literature I stop and see a small book titled old book by the writer and bookseller Álvaro Castillo Granada published by Fondo de Cultura Económica in 2021.
There is a pocket book in the midst of the greats like Gabriel García Márquez, Fernando Vallejo, Laura Restrepo, Fernando González and many others. There is Castillo Granada telling stories and anecdotes of his career as a bookkeeper (nickname given by our Nobel Prize winner García Márquez), without thinking twice, it is the first book that I bought with my first fortnight and I enjoy it just as much as I read read to live by Felipe Ossa considered the dean of booksellers in Colombia and who has been an inspiration for the new generation of young people who dedicate ourselves to this trade.
Álvaro Castillo Granada demonstrates in his beautiful book that one can choose books as a life project and in turn create stories from this experience with writers, colleagues and clients. I think I’m doing well and books give me that opportunity that teaching still doesn’t.