On the second floor of Celaya 25, in Condesa, there is a hidden bookstore… but it’s not your average Mexico City bookstore. This dimly lit readers’ haven is filled to the brim with used English language books, all sold at reasonable prices.
Whether you are a tourist passing through or a resident building a life abroad, there is nothing quite like escaping to your own language from time to time, and literature is, and always will be, a way to fulfill that necessity for familiarity. Books are an escape. Books are a journey. Books are written imagination. Bookstores are, thus, the vessels that transport us to our hiding spot, faraway destinations, or Neverland. That is why Under the Volcano is an oasis for English-speakers visiting or living in Mexico City. In fact, this bookstore has self-proclaimed itself to be “an embassy for the soul of the English speaking world in Mexico” – others might simply call that a refuge.
The bookstore is located at the American Legion. You will know you have arrived when you stumble upon a building with a blue and white façade where the Mexican and American flags fly harmoniously side by side. This “cultural embassy” is a spot for Americans living in Mexico City to drink and eat hamburgers with (authentic!) cheddar cheese, or dance to the beats of hip-hop and trap.
Burgers and music aside, our favorite component of the American Legion building is Under the Volcano: a disorderly, timid bookstore ideal for curious, open-minded readers. This is the bookstore you go to when you want to browse for hidden treasure — and definitely not the bookstore organized in alphabetical order. With books piled on shelves, chairs, and even the floor, it is a place to get lost. So, do. Get lost and take your pick from the innumerable genres of books, ranging from philosophy and poetry to classic literature and history. All are used and more-than-affordable, and you might even discover a forgotten photo or random memorabilia floating in their pages.
Under the Volcano is, above all, ideal for finding your next contemporary fiction novel. Here you can find books written by Joyce Carol Oates, Seamus Heaney, Alice Munro, and other authors who might otherwise need to be ordered through Amazon. If you find yourself at a loss, ask one of the employees for a personal recommendation; they may be shy, with a book in hand, but from one reader to another, isn’t any opinion appreciated?
Take our word and make your way to Celaya street to explore the hidden bookstore most certainly worth finding.
Under The Volcano Books
Celaya 25, col. Hipódromo Condesa
Open Monday to Saturday, 11am-6pm