La Casa Azul Bookstore: ‘El Barrio’s’ Literature Hub

Spanish Harlem, also known as “El Barrio” or East Harlem, is known for being the point of origin for a number of notable people: singer Marc Anthony, musician Frankie Cutlass, rapper Cam’ron, actor Al Pacino, rapper Tupac, poet Willie Perdomo, and bookstore owner Aurora Anaya-Cerda, who is the founder of La Casa Azul Bookstore.

The “crowdfunded” establishment was successfully supported by 500 funders after Anaya-Cerda ran the ‘40K in 40 days’ campaign. La Casa Azul Bookstore officially opened in El Barrio during the summer of 2012. (Photo : Latina book club)

The “crowdfunded” establishment was successfully supported by 500 funders after Anaya-Cerda ran the ‘40K in 40 days’ campaign. La Casa Azul Bookstore officially opened in El Barrio during the summer of 2012. (Photo : Latina book club)

La Casa Azul Bookstore opened in 2008 as an online resource that promoted literature by Latino writers, educational programming and children’s literature. The “crowdfunded” establishment was successfully supported by 500 funders after Anaya-Cerda ran the ’40K in 40 days’ campaign. La Casa Azul Bookstore officially opened in “El Barrio” during the summer of 2012.

The independently-owned vibrant literature hub offers its community a shared space for meetings, a bountiful retail selection, and a destination for events, book clubs, author signings, gallery shows, film screenings, workshops and writer conferences.  La Casa Azul Bookstore (143 E. 103rd Street) boasts culturally-based programs; they raise public awareness; and manifest an appreciation of art, all to celebrate Latino literature and culture.

Anaya-Cerda’s past includes her being a zealous supporter of cultural events in “El Barrio;” she’s is the founder of the East Harlem Children’s Book Festival; she was a middle teacher in East LA before moving to New York; she’s a White House recognized Champion of Change; she’s won a numerous awards; and she is on several committees that pertain to Latinos, women and entrepreneurs.

La Casa Azul Bookstore’s irresistible charm has earned it certain media attention, and the interest of NYC & Company, the tourism sect of the city, who’ve made it their mission to tie in East Harlem as a part of the “Neighborhood x Neighborhood” campaign, which aims to draw attention to communities that are less frequented in the five boroughs. The bookstore will be featured in the tour that will also take visitors to El Museo del Barrio and the Aromas Boutique Bakery & Café.

By Nicole Akoukou Thompson

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