Closed Easter

March 29th, 2021

Hey our new policy is open weekends 12-6 but we will stay closed for the Easter weekend and open up again on Saturday the 10th. Remember you can book a private appointment at ANY time (ok not mornings!) with 24-hour notice by writing to – or come see us some weekend before we move and expand this summer!


March 23rd, 2021

We will open Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 6 until things get back to normal – ?! – or we move.

Full PPE, one person at a time, cash or PayPal only.

In the meantime who knows about commercial space available upstairs in Chimalistac, Del Valle Sur, Guadalupe Inn, Coyoacan, Florida, NĂ¡poles, Condesa, or Narvarte? Please let us know.


December 15th, 2020

We are closed until March 1, 2021. Please visit us then. Abrazos!

Okay this REALLY IS the last time (till 2021). We will open for customers one or one group at a time, masked, gelled from head to toe and limited to thirty minutes if others are waiting, regular hours Friday December 11th at 11 AM through close at 6 PM Monday, December 14th. (That includes Sunday, but be patient then as it’s the day of rest. Also a good time to avoid the crowds.)

After this sale there’s nothing for winter because I will be gone to the beach where my allergies are far less severe. There really isn’t a better gift in these times than a good book. So many of us reckoning with silence, and new horizons as the world comes out of this long troubled sleep. What are YOU gonna do? Bring stories.

Black Friday Sale 11/27 2-8 PM

November 25th, 2020

Apologies for saying these last two brief openings would be the last – they were meant to be. But necessity is the mother – and a motherfucker – of changing your mind. Pushing our regular schedule forward a couple hours to accommodate that vicious end-of-week hora pico.

Open this Friday to customers one or one couple/family/group at a time, masked and gelled, limit of 30 minutes when people are waiting.

And we might even do it again next week, but that’s not certain yet.

See you here.








Revolution Sale Nov 20 & 21 2020

November 10th, 2020

I know when we opened up in October we said it was the last time. But a ton of new books have come in, and we need money to power through until reopening in the spring.

So, rules: masks and gel; one person, couple or family at a time. (This may require some waiting, -get some coffee, lunch, or meditate by the fountain.)

Regular hours of 11 to 6, Friday November 20th and Saturday November 21st. Bring cash or a device that can access PayPal, we can’t take cards until next year.

Thanks to our generous book donors over the summer and our loyal, appreciative and curious customers. Keep on rockin’ in the Free World.

We’ve thus far offered sales for requested or recommended titles at the downstairs gate during the pandemic. But we want to let our customers browse, and figure the only safe way to do it is to open for two days this month, and let people into the store ONE AT A TIME.

So be ready, with cash or PayPal account in hand, and be ready to wait – and meet some of your Anglophone literature-loving peers.

This will be your last chance to browse the collection until we re-open in a new Coyoacan location this spring.

When: Thursday Oct. 15th and Saturday Oct. 17th, 11 AM to 6 PM. Numbers will be passed out if we have a surge. WEAR A MASK.


April 22nd, 2020

Get your books in quarantine! Under the Volcano Books now delivers. Write us at to inquire about our inventory or get recommendations and schedule a delivery within 24 hours.

With apologies to our customers we are moving our planned Saturday closure to be effective immediately in order to do the utmost to protect our most vulnerable citizens. If you want books write us at we can consult our inventory for you and make an appointment to get you what you want. Take care out there.

We will close temporarily at 6 PM on Saturday March 21st until general conditions improve, opening only by appointment (

That said, with three days for people to stock up any hour of the day, I thought I might distract myself and improve our customers’ shut-in days with thoughtful recommendations of three long, big-ass titles we have in abundant overstock. The wakeful reader might notice all these are from dead white dudes (okay, Franzen isn’t dead, but as my brother pointed out, he lives in a bird sanctuary).

Tastes these days are searching out heretofore less-heard voices: women authors (who IMHO wrote nearly all the very best novels), writers of color and from colonized countries, writers in translation – and the reason none of those titles are listed here is they are in demand and I struggle to keep them in the store. The following books, gathering dust here, have the power Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey accorded to records of long ago mega-popular hit songs: they resuscitate vanished worlds.

Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding (1749)

This is the kind of book that simply demands to be read not just in analog time but at the speed of centuries past. It isn’t that it’s not entertaining, but that it comes so entirely from that time that read by candlelight and moved on horseback that it unfolds by its laws. You need to spend hours kicking around in it, smelling the dung and nosegays and adjusting to that strange long ago time. Its frankness about sexuality and clarification of how and why all the old restrictions existed will round out your idea of how our (European) ancestors lived. It’s not a saucy romp though as people are generally made to think by its Swinging Sixties film adaptation, with the nineteen-year-old title character played by a twenty-seven-year old Albert Finney (looking forty at the time – Finney would go on to considerably superannuate the lead in John Huston’s 1980 adaptation of the novel for which this store was named WTF). Fielding’s young Tom is a naive and kind young man whose physical beauty draws women to him like a beehive and is helpless to nature’s call. The societal restriction of his sexual freedom reveals a vanished system governing all things. What new standards will this present crisis bring forth?

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams (1918)

A later world, more intricately built: Boston scion Henry Adams was the grandson and great-grandson of presidents, and a noticer. His strange memoir, published in two volumes at the turn of the twentieth century, refers to himself in the third person, and is a dense recounting of his whole span on Earth from silken cradle to monument-topped grave. We forget it now- recalling subconsciously with instinctual resentment – but for more than a hundred years the United States was run from New England. The weird life of the man who was the first slacker is made here into a freaky time machine that will take you into the closed rooms behind vast histories. Get aboard.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)

This novel was everywhere when we opened back in 2011. Its author, famous in a way writers have not been in America for a couple generations – TV famous – almost instantly became a magnet for online hate as soon as there was such a thing. He insulted Oprah; he warned of the dangers of the Internet; he promoted nonwhite, non-male authors but being a white dude himself at the top of the stack in a popular culture sense and not too deft with offhand commentary, dug his own grave with his mouth on frequent occasion. Nevertheless, he is a terrific writer of a very particular kind. I gave this book (in translation) to the man who would have been my Mexican father-in-law, telling him if he didn’t like the characters he could rest assured (as he suspected) he didn’t like (white) Americans (except for me). Well before our present cultural moment he put out a disappointing novel (Purity, 2015) moved to the previously mentioned bird sanctuary and kind of disappeared. We’ve heard enough from upper middle class white dudes no doubt: but that consciousness lives behind a dance of veils, and I would suggest that those fighting it (especially politically) should know that because of multiple evasions it is not truly identified or known. Franzen – engagingly, humorously, heartbreakingly and at great, enjoyable length – lets us see in.