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New, Bestselling, English-Language: Aurora Bookstore Opens

July 9, 2023

by Catherine Marenghi

Kim Malcolm was unpacking boxes of books for her soon-to-be-opened bookstore when a woman burst in through partially open doors.

"Is this a new bookstore? I've been waiting a long time for a new English-language bookstore in San Miguel." the woman exclaimed. Introducing herself as Jeanine, the woman enthusiastically became Kim's first customer.

It was an auspicious beginning for Aurora Books, a dream that has been long in the making for its new owner. Kim, a San Miguel resident and author of A Country Within, launched Aurora Books on July 1, 2023.

The Path to San Miguel

After retiring from a long career in government and nonprofit work, Kim spent some years as a nomad, traveling from country to country, never thinking she would set down permanent roots anywhere.

It was her wanderlust that brought her to San Miguel de Allende in 2018. Her intent was to enjoy the town's rich literary heritage – the world-famous San Miguel Writers' Conference, the public Biblioteca, a local PEN chapter, and many authors and writing groups in this popular central Mexican town.

What she found was much more: a strong sense of community, friendships, and interconnection that made her want to set down roots here. However, one thing was missing.

"To my surprise, San Miguel did not have a bookstore offering new, current and bestselling English-language books. I've been to many cities in exotic places like Tunisia, Vietnam, Guatemala – all of which have had English-language bookstores with current titles. Why not in San Miguel?" Kim asked.

The Value of a Bookstore

San Miguel de Allende has many places to find used books, including the public library, a Little Free Library, consignment stores, flea markets, and many popup sales sponsored by local charities.

"Used books are great," Kim noted. "They support the community, and recycling is good for the environment.

"But the value of a bookstore like mine is that the selections are curated. I have personally spent hundreds of hours researching books that readers love, and that prominent book reviewers recommend. Aurora Books will focus on new, carefully selected English-language titles that you won’t find anywhere else in town – and some surprises!"

Books by American bestsellers like Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, and Luis Alberto Urrea share space with local San Miguel authors, children's books, and much more.

Early response to Kim's new endeavor has been promising. Susan Page, a bestselling author, known for founding the San Miguel Writers' Conference, said, "Ever since the beautiful Tecalote Bookstore closed, many years ago now, San Miguel has been without a gorgeous, independent, deliciously browsable English-language bookstore.

"When Kim Malcolm moved here, she was stunned at this 'lacuna.' She has filled the gap with her own passion and vision. As a loving gift the San Miguel community, she has given birth to beautiful Aurora Books! Thank you, Kim!"

Location, Location

Located in Hacienda la Aurora, a cluster of charming shops and cafes not far from the town's famous Fabrica La Aurora art galleries, Aurora Books adds a tranquil haven to this bustling shopping court. The bright and airy bookstore features warm wooden shelves, native Mexican folk art, and many of its proud owner's personal touches.

"I imagine local residents stopping at my bookstore before picking up their mail at the nearby La Conexion office, shopping or consigning clothes at the beautiful Yellow Boutique, or enjoying a coffee or lunch at one of the cafes in Hacienda la Aurora, like Hierba Santa and Santa Maria Café," Kim said.

Before finding this perfect location, Kim had searched for a year and a half. She also experimented with selling books at local events and briefly partnered with a Spanish-language bookstore. However, at Hacienda la Aurora, Kim has found what she hopes will be a permanent home.

A Sense of Community

"I don't think of it as 'my' bookstore. I think it belongs to the community. I want not only to provide access to wonderful books, but also to host author readings, book club gatherings, and more," Kim said.

"And it won't hurt my feelings if you come in, browse, and discover some new title, only to go home and buy it on Kindle. For a bookstore, that's still serving the community," she added.

Another way her store strives to support the community is through the sale of exquisite greeting cards featuring indigenous Huichol art, including the tree of life, native plants, and spirit animals like jaguars and owls. Proceeds from the sale of these cards benefit the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts in Jalisco, Mexico.

"I am so grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from my friends in San Miguel," Kim said. "This is a vibrant literary community that has everything. The only thing lacking has been an English-language bookstore such as Aurora Books. I hope to provide one more bit of inspiration, knowledge, and fresh ways of thinking to this wonderful town."

Aurora Books is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-5pm at Hacienda la Aurora, Calzada de la Aurora 48A.


Catherine Marenghi is a novelist, memoirist, and award-winning poet. Her works include the historical novel Our Good Name (2022), Glad Farm: A Memoir (2016), Breaking Bread: Poems (2020), and a new book of love poems, Unfurled, published in 2023. Among her awards are two Academy of American Poets prizes, and her work has appeared in literary journals internationally. She is an active member of the vibrant literary community of San Miguel, where she has served on the board of the San Miguel Poetry Cafe and, with poet Judyth Hill, co-founded the Poetry Mesa, an international community serving poets and poetry.

Her works include the historical novel Our Good Name (2022), Glad Farm: A Memoir (2016), Breaking Bread: Poems (2020), and a new book of love poems, Unfurled, published in 2023.


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