Most retail bookstores in Berkeley have small but potent Spanish-language book sections with the latest writings of literary greats such as Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes. But somehow the best libros en español aren't in conventional bookstores. For magazines, frequent the record stores, which feature the grotesque blood-and-guts covers of Alarma alongside fanzines with bright glossy covers of teen idols. You can also get political magazines such as Proceso, and women's magazines such as Vanidades. For old books, Corazón del Pueblo in Oakland has a nice collection of out-of-print and used books for reasonable prices; novels and biographies of Chicano-Mexicano-Latino heroes and heroines fill the two rows in the back of the Mexican arts store. But the best in this category goes to the Spanish Table in Berkeley. Better known as a vendor of food, wine, and cookware from Spain and Portugal, it also has a surprisingly abundant selection of books and compact discs. Cookbooks are plentiful, along with picture and children's books. It's a beautiful space with colorful pottery and a graceful old-world feeling. Check out the Rough Guide to Cuban Son book with Compay Segundo on the cover.
Two Berkeley locations: 2454 Telegraph Ave., 510-845-7852;
1730 Fourth St., 510-559-9500