I grew up in Palm Springs, CA and it kills me to visit my family and not have an independent bookstore in the area. Driving down Tahquitz Canyon last week, I saw out of the corner of my eye a sign for a bookstore and cheered! Latino Books y mas is a unique combination of new books, used books, books in Spanish, music and Mexican folk art; all in a compact location. The store carries about 1,500 books, so you’re sure to find something you want to read.
I had a lovely conversation with the owner, Luciano Ramirez, about books, Palm Springs, and the fact that he worked at my high school in when I attended there (another retired educator turned bookseller). Ramirez opened the store about six years ago with a specialty in Latin books and Latin books in translation. He is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Latin books, he recommended at least six very interesting reads for our Translated Tuesday series, and those were just the ones he had in stock. He is definitely an excellent Southern California resource for Mexican-American literature. I was torn between all of the great options, but chose The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes because I haven’t read any of his books. But what really sets the store apart in Latin literature is the significant selection of books in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish, I struggle enough with English, but this is one of maybe three stores in Southern California that specialize in Spanish literature.
Given the desert location, Ramirez has a shelf dedicated to golf and another to tennis. Finding a used copy of Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf thrilled my husband; my response to the thought of more golf talk was a little more subdued.
Palm Springs struggles to re-vitalize its downtown and succeeds in fits and starts (it was crammed with people every Friday and Saturday night when I lived there, great fun for a teenager). It’s a lovely merchant main street to meander up and down and Latino Book y mas is just off Palm Canyon on Tahquitz. Ramirez said that most of his customers are tourists. Some locals shop at the store and he carries the required reading for the local schools so students stop by, although Ramirez wishes for more community support.
Latino Books y mas sponsers author events during the season (when it’s not scorching hot). Ramirez understands the difficulty authors have marketing their books and strives to support local authors in the area and in broader Southern California. He listed several local authors he is planning to host starting in the fall. The season “opener” sounds terrific, Luis Alberto Urrea will sign and read The Hummingbird’s Daughter: A Novel, a book that has intrigued me. My family will be attending. Ramirez holds the author events at the yogurt store next door, just the type of co-sponsoring and support that the indie movement advocates.
Next time you’re in the desert, stop by Latino Books y mas to chose a fun read to keep you company by the pool.
180 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262