[Nonfiction Wednesday] Meet The Lord Of The Books from Bogota, Colombia

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading theme throughout the year, when we can.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Digging For Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez And The Library He Built (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Angela Burke Kunkel Illustrated by Paola Escobar
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books (2020) ISBN: 1984892630 (ISBN13: 9781984892638) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

The book introduces the reader to two Joses who live in La Nueva Gloria in the city of Bogota: one is a young boy dreaming of cuentos, and the other an older man, Señor Jose, who works as a garbage collector but who also happens to be a dreamer of cuentos.

Inspired by the true story of Jose Alberto Gutierrez, the reader sees how Señor Jose not only collected trash, but also found discarded books that became part of his ever-growing library that is made accessible to dreamers like the young Jose.

Señor Jose found joy and purpose in his labor, and delighted in his discovery of books that brought stars to his eyes; truly one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Apparently, there was no library at all in the La Nueva Gloria Barrio until Señor Jose made his collection of discarded books accessible to all, especially to young children, earning him the honorary title Lord of The Books. 

Having grown up in Manila where access to libraries is very challenging, I am always moved by stories like these. As I grow older, I become even more convinced that access to books should be a right given to all, and I hope that more people will take matters in their own hands, like Señor Jose, when their governments or their societies fail to provide this basic access to knowledge, imagination, and joy.

To know more about the Lord of the Books, here is a short Youtube link that I found about him. Enjoy!


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 72 out of target 100 (Paola Escobar – Colombian)

July 27, 2022 at 06:31AM Myra Garces-Bacsal