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Casa Camino Real

New Mexico

314 South Tornillo Street, Las Cruces, NM

What are the 3 adjectives you would use to describe your bookstore?

Sacred, eclectic, embracing.

Share a quote from a book or poem that bares your bookstore’s soul.

Our motto: Leer es Vivir / To Read is to Live.

Why was your bookstore founded/what role does it play in the community?

We began as The Border Book Festival, New Mexico’s longest running book festival, in 1995 until 2012, when we moved to our current location and became Casa Camino Real Bookstore. We are the only dedicated multicultural bookstore in the area that features books in Spanish for children and adults. In addition, we are the home for Libros Para El Viaje/Books for the Journey, an ongoing Refugee/Migrant/Asylum-seekers book initiative. We believe books are for everyone and have many book giveaways to our underserved Latino/a/Chicana/o, Native American and Black Community. We are based on the East side of Las Cruces, the poor side, in the historic Mesquite District on the Camino Real, in an adobe built in the 1850s.

Which champion/warrior/wildcat (real or mythological) does your bookstore channel most?

We are connected to the Ancestors, so the Crow is a major image in our bookstore, as well as the Eagle, all-seeing guardian of our desert land.

What makes your bookstore unique?

We are loving stewards of new, used and out of print books and have great respect for the physical manifestation that is THE BOOK. I have attended CABS, the Antiquarian Book Seminar, and have learned how to take care of books in their physical form. We would never sell a bad copy of a good book and we would NEVER put it on the floor. When you enter the bookstore, you are entering a temple where books are sacred.

What is something that no one knows about your bookstore?

We have a resident spirit. A cat. He comes and goes, and is our bookstore mascot. He used to startle me, but no longer. As animal activists, we feed birds outside under a lovely desert willow. No wonder our friendly spirit is a cat!

**Owner Denise Chavez is the winner of the 2021 Duende-Word BIPOC Bookseller Activism Award.

Image description: A multi-textured blue background, including textures and words from book pages.