Desperate Literature is a polyglot literature-buff’s dream! This tiny bookstore is jam-packed with titles in English, French and Spanish. The sections are clearly marked and the categories are organized well. All of these details make the browsing experience of the literature lover that much more pleasant. For those who are just stopping in for something specific, you can head right to the section you need or ask one of the friendly, and oh-so-well-read employees. One other unique feature is the “staff pick” section. These books come with hand-written notes, tips, and reviews from the staff and hints as to “when” you should dive into these titles.
Let me explain. The name desperate literature comes from this quote by Joaquín Font:
There are books for when you’re bored. Plenty of them. There are books for when you’re calm. The best kind, in my opinion. There are also books for when you’re sad. And there are books for when you’re happy. There are books for when you’re thirsty for knowledge. And there are books for when you’re desperate.
With that being said, there’s a column dedicated to feelings: when you feel sad, happy, desperate, or calm. This truly does come in handy for those of us—myself included—that can spend hours running the tips of our fingers over the bridges of old and dusty books, as well as the hard and shiny new ones, simply hoping for a feeling or spark that will lead us in the direction of our next literary adventure. Book shopping, in my opinion, is about the experience, not just the literal act of exchanging money for goods. It comes down to ambience, patience... no one wants to feel rushed when choosing a book, it’s a very personal experience—and of course the conversations that may develop in the book store between yourself, the staff or other patrons.
The world needs Desperate Literature. The world needs individuals thirsty, hungry, desperate to read and fill their minds and imaginations with new, exciting and challenging thoughts and ideas. As a literature major (in both Spanish and English) and a voracious reader, I’ve never seen a more fitting title for a bookstore. Ever. I too find myself desperate to read: to sit, to be still and quiet and to check out, all the while “checking-in”.
Desperate Literature made me feel desperate as well: desperate for more money to be able to buy all the titles that struck my attention; desperate for more time to read and get lost in the words of others; and desperate, probably the most desperate of all, to read in not just Spanish and English, but French and Portuguese, to read some of my favorite authors in their mother tongue. Desperation is a funny thing: it inspires, and acts as a driving force, once you make it through that period of fear and uncertainty.
Alas, my visit to Desperate Literature was to support Singaporean poet Jee Leong Koh and his newly published collection of poems titled Steep Tea. To hear an author read his or her words aloud is a wonderful and exhilarating experience that I recommend to anyone. To see their facial expressions change as they read, their tone and intonation fluctuate and their body language shift only adds to the experience that is reading. Words are so much more than letters on paper.
The last point I’d like to make is that those book-loving travelers have the option to work/live at Desperate Literature during their stay! There are three locations that participate in this project started by Craig Walzer and Corey Eastwoord: Atlantis Books in Santorini, Book Thug Nation and Human Relations in Brooklyn, and now Madrid’s very own Desperate Literature.
In the words of Emma Lazarus:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Let’s get desperate, y'all.
Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-9pm
Address: Calle Campomanes, 13
Metro: Santo Domingo, Opera and Callao
Danni, Community Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful life partner. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.