Books and the City. Ona Llibres

There are places that attract like a magnet – those places where the world outside simply fades away. And Ona Llibres is one of them. This bookstore opened recently, and it’s definitely a place to go see, even if you don’t read in Catalan.

Located on Pau Claris, close to the intersection with Gran Via, Ona Llibres opens to the street with a completely glazed window, and an unexpected whirl of books mounted on the entrance wall. With some two metres in diameter, the installation is the work of Alicia Martín.

Art and Art Books

Besides the bookstore itself, Ona Llibres is also home to a special collection of artworks, displayed on the first floor. I was amazed when they told me “you can touch anything you want, and open the books, just put on the gloves” – but I was also very happy to do it.

Can moments have a colour? Apparently, yes. A lady putting on her gloves, a team of synchronized swim winning, or an actor who decides to retire – any moment, any action, and any thought can have a colour, thus a Pantone code. And they assembled in an atypical guide of moments. By Mercè Soler.

These crayons are not for writing, but for reading. And the way to read them is by using the sharpener, so that the crayons rotate… verse by verse. By Georgina Aspa.

Events. Joan Fontcuberta, Fahrenheit 451

Over 30 volumes of Farenheit 451, in various languages and various editions – symbolically burned and rescued, then showcased: this is what Joan Fontcuberta, one of the most intriguing contemporary photographers, created and displayed at Ona Llibres, last month. Besides commemorating the Ray Bradbury year, Fontcuberta also added “sieged culture” in the title of his exhibition.

“In Fahrenheit 451 the victims are the books – the access routes to cultivated intelligence, knowledge and free thought” he says.

The Bookstore

The space where the books are displayed is as immersive as the one dedicated to art. Ona Llibres say they offer around thirty thousand titles, of both Catalan and international writers translated into Catalan, and browsing their collection is always a joy.

Ona Llibres opened over half a century ago, in Barcelona, and was one of the most cherished places for literature in the Catalan language. In 2010, they closed their bookstore on Gran Via to open a smaller one, on Gran de Gràcia. Ten years later, and with the support of magnate Tatxo Benet, co-founder of Mediapro, Ona Llibres reopened in the heart of the city, not far away from where it started. The interior design, created by the Mediapro team, is playful and surprising and, by far, the two most notable features are the event/reading room, as well as the children space – where you can leave your kid to play while you’re busy checking the titles. Last but not least, the graphic identity of Ona Llibres, is signed by international studio We Are Mucho.

“There are books so delightful that I’d like to stay and live there” said Catalan journalist Emili Manzano i Mulet. There are also bookstores – as charming as the books, I’d add.

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