Learn Spanish by Reading Spanish Books
All in the sudden, you're carrying full-on conversations without stumbling upon a word. You understand the lyrics and movies in Spanish. You also have no problem figuring out what's going on in a telenovela that you are watching.
Congratulations! You are ready for the next challenge - to finish reading a whole book in Spanish. What's more satisfying than the feeling of turning to the last page and realizing you've done it? Also, it's fun to switch up your learning tools and learn Spanish in a different way.
1. Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish: A creative & proven approach
This isn't a novel, but when I was doing research, no matter which website or blog I visited, this Spanish book is always on the list. And none of the comment is negative!
This book is a great reference for Spanish learners of all levels. It's simple and logical. In the book, Margarita Madrigal reminds you how many words you already know in Spanish. Are you worried about pronunciation? She's got you covered as well. She created a number of pronunciation keys to help you pronounce words accurately in Spanish. One special thing about this book is that you don't start learning Spanish grammar in the present tense; you start with the past and future tenses. And as I mentioned in the article French is Easier than You Think, there's no need to memorize all the verbs and their tenses. All you need are the most common ones, and Margarita seems to agree with me too.
If you want to focus on some of the basic grammar structures and not sure how to start, this book is for you!
2. La Casa de los Espíritus (The House of the Spirits)
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La Casa de los Espíritus, one of the most important novels of the 20th century, is the debut novel of Isabel Allende. It was rejected by a few Spanish-language publishers before being published in Buenos Aires in 1982.
La Casa de los Espíritus is a story of love, magic, and fate, and it talks about the life of four generations of the Trueba family and their involvements with the political events of the 1970s in Chile. The story is told mainly from the perspective of two protagonists (Esteban and Alba). Esteban is a cranky and arrogant man whose pursuit of political power is tempered only by his wife, Clara, a woman who has a mystical connection to the spirit world. Their daughter, Blanca, fell in love with a man Esteban disapproved. But their love also creates Esteban's greatest joy - his granddaughter Alba, a child who is beautiful and ambitious. She'll lead the Trueba family and their country to a very different future.
If you enjoy a good fiction novel, especially historical fiction, you know what to do. Get a copy of La Casa de los Espíritus and take advantage of the summer weather and enjoy this Spanish book in the park or on the beach.
3. Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate)
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You're learning Spanish, and you like Mexican food and cooking. Then, Como Agua para Chocolate will be fun to read. A word of warning -- the story can get a bit dramatic and corny.
The book is divided into 12 sections represent each month of the year. Each chapter starts with a recipe of a Mexican dish. Each dish is connected to an event in Tita's, the protagonist of the book, life.
Being the youngest daughter in the De La Garza family, Tita always knows her plans in life, which is to stay single and take care of her aging mother until she passes away. One day, she meets her neighbor, Pedro, and falls in love with him. Yet, she knows she can never be with him because of her family's tradition. As a result, Tita can only express herself in the kitchen when she cooks.
4. La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind)
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The story is set in Barcelona in 1945, just after the war. A boy named Daniel wakes up on his 11th birthday just to find that he can't remember his mother's face. In order to comfort Daniel, his widowed father takes him to a library called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in the heart of the old city of Barcelona. Daniel is allowed to choose only one book from the shelves, and he pulls out La Sombra Del Viento by Julian Carax.
As Daniel grows up, a few people seem overly interested in his childhood find. One night when he is wandering the old streets, he is approached by someone who reminds him of a character in the book. This man turns out to be the devil. He is tracking down every last copy of Carax's work, so he can burn them. Then the story turns into finding out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save things he left behind.
Spanish learners who enjoy a good Spanish mystery book, this is for you! Want more? Carlos Ruiz Zafon wrote a follow-up, El Juego del Ángel (The Angel's Game), in 2008. The Angel's Game is set in Barcelona during the 1920s and 1930s. It follows the story of a young writer who is approached by a mysterious figure to write a book.
5. Don Quixote de la Mancha
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Let's say you're an advanced Spanish learner and none of the books mentioned previously challenges you. Don't worry, we've got you covered as well. Don Quixote was published in two parts in 1605 and 1615. It's considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age.
The story talks about how a man named Alonso Quixano, who reads a lot of chivalric romances and has gone crazy, decides to revive chivalry, undo the wrongs, and bring justice back to the world, using the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. In the first part of the book, Don Quixote lives in his own imagination and thinks he's living as a knight. The perspective changes in the second book. Many of the people Don Quixote meets have read Book 1 and know about him.
You can find literary techniques such as realism metatheater, and intertextuality as you read through the novel. Don Quixote also had a significant influence on the literary community worldwide such as Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.
🇪🇸🇲🇽Reading a Spanish Book is Too Challenging?
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