MADRID, SPAIN. Discovering Madrid’s Feria del Libro, or book fair, took me back to my nostalgic days of elementary school. Book fairs were probably one of the most exciting school events to happen to me as an eight-year-old book-lover.

The school auditorium would be transformed into bookstands of all different genres—from non-fiction and science to fiction and mystery. It was an exciting chance to get out of a math lesson for an hour to peruse the newest Harry Potter book.

Now 15 years later, as I find myself in a book fair twenty times the size of my elementary school auditorium, and not to mention in Spain, I was one happy girl.

This year marked the 73rd anniversary of La Feria del Libros in Madrid, a combined showcase of the publication, distribution, and retail of books. It’s a chance for independent bookstore owners and entrepreneurs from local publishing houses to team up and bring to the city the latest and most recommended titles, at a 10% discount.

As if strolling through Parque del Retiro is not beautiful enough—throw in soft sounds of Jazz music, seating for café breaks, more than three hundred booths housing every book genre you could think of, and you have yourself all the right ingredients for a book lover’s paradise. From books on religion and travel to popular fiction and gastronomy, there was something for everyone.

It’s nice to see that books are not yet obsolete. With every other person you see reading from a Kindle or iPad today, real books have become more of a rare sight. We live in such a digital age, where your smart phone is the first item you remember to bring out of the house with you and you can buy anything you need off the Internet.

Thus explains why La Feria del Libro Madrid made me one impressed tourist. This cultural event is like a revival of the lost art of reading books; an appreciation of simpler times. People come together to a place where reading is celebrated. It’s refreshing to see that in a foreign country.

There were long lines to meet the book authors, where fans got the chance to ask questions and have their book copies signed. Booksellers at booths were also kind enough to answer the tourist type of questions I had regarding what this book fair was really all about.

As I chatted with employee of local bookstore Pasajes – Liberia Internacional, she explained to me that local, independent bookstores are very prevalent in Madrid. There aren’t any chain bookstores here that many may be familiar with in other parts of the world. In fact, there are not many chain businesses in general here in Spain. Entrepreneurship is championed here, where local businesses make up most of the service industry. A concept that is very sentimental and romantic in the midst of today’s brand-centric society.

So people are actually putting away their digital devices for a couple of hours to venture into their local bookstores? People are actually purchasing books rather than “one-click purchasing” a book on Amazon for their Kindle?

Upon asking Pasajes bookstore employee if she thinks that it is part of Spanish culture to read, she replied that she doesn’t think people here read as much as they should. She fully supports the concept behind the book fair, as it is an opportunity to get Madrileños together and to open them up to the great local bookstores that are available to them.

Reading books is becoming a lost pastime, reminiscent of innocence and curiosity. La Feria del Libro Madrid is a great way to save this idea from becoming obsolete.