Lello & Irmao

This bookshop is a must visit in Oporto and not only for bibliophiles. The exterior is quite eye-catching if you encounter it from the opposite side of the street. I say this because I actually walked past the place several times before finding it! I was on the same side and saw little more than the window at first. It looked quite ordinary but the interior is stunning, particularly the staircase and the stain glass ceiling.

The place seems busy at all times of day. The business has been running for over a hundred years now and does a good trade although I’ve seen better in terms of actual stock. There are not that many English books but, as a student of Portuguese, I was able to pick up a few homegrown souvenirs.  I got the Portuguese translation of David Page’s The First Global Village (How Portugal Changed the World). On early impressions, I would recommend it to anybody interested in Portugal and its history. Not a dry read in the least.

Also, purchased was A chinela turca (The Turkish Slipper) and a few other short stories by the wonderful Brazilian, Machado de Assis. Anybody interested in modern or post-modern writing simply must get hold of a translation of The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas. This 19th century novel is one of the best I’ve read in recent years and is way ahead of its time:



I found Lello’s prices on the expensive side. The above two books set me back a total of 22 Euros. One is a paperback and the other a little pocket book containing only three stories. No doubt they cash in on their reputation with tourists and the sheer number of visitors. I went to another second hand bookshop not far from there and picked up one or two books that were cheaper than in Lello’s: Saramago’s As pequenas memorias (memoirs of his childhood) and O Caderno (his first notebook of essays from his blog):


 I also bought a selection of Pessoa’s poems. Anyone interested in 20th century poetry should at least be aware of him: http://poetry.about.com/od/oq/a/pessoa.htm

These three only cost me 15 Euros in total if I remember correctly and one is a hardback. So visit Lello and Son if you’re in Oporto but shop around if you’re looking for bargains rather than just a souvenir. English stock is very limited however.


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