‘Llibrestiu’ infuses Catalonia’s streets with literature

Celebration takes place across Catalonia in 40 different cities with hundreds of activities for readers

The Casa del Llibre in Passeig de Gràcia during the event 'Llibrestiu' (by Pere Francesch)
The Casa del Llibre in Passeig de Gràcia during the event 'Llibrestiu' (by Pere Francesch) / Xènia Palau

Xènia Palau | Barcelona

July 16, 2021 11:42 AM

Literature, long walks and amusement activities, that is what Llibrestiu, the summer literary celebration, was like. It was celebrated on July 15 for the first time across Catalonia and the intention was to bring people closer to local bookstores in order to discover alternative shops beyond the usual establishments. 

Moreover, booksellers offered a great variety of activities for all audiences: storytelling, book presentations, author signings, radio programs and workshops, among others. Every activity complied with the Health Department’s current Covid-19 recommendations. 

The festivity was held by Catalonia’s Chamber of Books - which brings together guilds, publisher associations, booksellers, distributors and printing and graphic designers - with the support of the Catalan culture ministry and Barcelona council. 

The president of the Chamber, Patrici Tixis, stated that the idea of Llibrestiu is to be “a meeting point every summer with books” and added: “It is a small tribute to the whole sector of bookstores and readers.”

Likewise, Natàlia Garriga, the Minister of Culture, declared the festivity needs to be a marked date on the calendar and highlighted the good atmosphere and the great activity during the day. 

The idea on Llibrestiu (a portmanteau of the Catalan words for book and summer) was to decentralize book selling in order to avoid heavy concentrations of people in the same space. 

Yet, the organization said that the offering is “completely different” to the July 23 summer Sant Jordi last year, despite the fact that the initiative has grown out of that celebration. 

April 23 is one of Catalonia’s most important dates of the year, when the country celebrates its patron Sant Jordi (Saint George) in unique style. Love is in the air as people browse street stalls to buy books and roses for their loved ones. 

A celebration across Catalonia

About 40 cities and towns in Catalonia have joined this “literary celebration”, such as Barcelona, Lleida, Girona, Tarragona, Vic, Sabadell, Figueres, Reus, Tàrrega and Mataró. 

For instance, in Girona, northern Catalonia, the festivity was celebrated only in the open air  and, unlike other cities, the organization decided to make a monograph dedicated to the crime novel. 

In Vic, central Catalonia,  the nine bookshops of the city hosted book stalls with a wide range of editions and genres in order to offer the most variety of books possible. Moreover, the parliament speaker, Laura Borràs, toured the bookshops accompanied by the organizing committee of the event. 

Tyto Alba, a Catalan comic artist, signed books at the Casa del Llibre in Passeig de Gràcia: “Llibrestiu is a good initiative after the last editions of Sant Jordi and also because there is a lot of interest in books.”

In addition, Catalonia’s Booksellers Guild activated a microsite on its website with a list of the participating bookstores, the location of the book stands and the schedule of activities. 

The Chamber of Books and the Booksellers Guild of Catalonia hope readers enjoyed this first summer celebration of local bookstores and they intend to repeat it in the coming years.