*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.*
Are you learning Spanish? Spanish is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. It’s fast and upbeat, but gentle at the same time. It’s so rich in culture, from ancient traditions to fascinating people. Plus, it’s the second most widely spoken language in the world. Why wouldn’t you want to learn Spanish?
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been learning Spanish for years upon years, you’ve probably asked this question at least once before: what is the best way to learn Spanish?
The truth is, there’s no wrong answer. It’s all up to you and how you learn best. But no matter what language or what method you use, if you want to learn a new language, reading is a vital part.
It’s easy to fall in love with a Spanish book…trust me, I speak from experience!
In my opinion, reading is perhaps the most exciting and interactive part of foreign language learning. Plus, it’s easy to find plenty of books in Spanish, especially if you live in a European or American country.
Whether you prefer to learn Spanish online or with a traditional textbook, I guarantee that you are about to see your Spanish language skills skyrocket.
So, are you ready to learn Spanish like never before while getting lost in a new favorite book? If so, then keep reading, because I’m about to reveal to you the 5 must-have Spanish books for taking your Spanish to the next level!
My Experience with Spanish Books
If you don’t already know, I’ve been learning Spanish since October of 2017. As of right now (April 2018), I have been learning the language for about six months and I’m already to an upper intermediate level, understanding almost everything I hear.
Last year, this would have seemed impossible to me. After just half a year of studying, I can think in Spanish, write in Spanish, and my listening skills are on point. Of course, I still have a ways to go, but one activity that I have found the most successful is reading.
I picked up (or, well, downloaded) my first Spanish novel in the beginning of 2018. I started reading it, and even though I couldn’t understand all of the words just yet, I couldn’t put it down!
I began making lists of the words I saw repeated and words that intrigued me, then looked them up in my Spanish dictionary. I would read the same chapter over again, just to soak in all of the details and see how much I understood after learning all of the key words I was missing before.
During the small bits of free time I get in class, I take out my phone and start reading. In the evenings after a long day of school, writing, and work, I sit comfortably in my bed (sometimes with a cup of hot chocolate, too!) and read for a good 30 minutes. In the mornings as I wake up, I occasionally listen to audio versions.
All in all, reading is pretty great. From the moment I purchased my first Spanish novel to this very moment I’m writing, I love having my nose stuck in a Spanish book.
Not only did I enjoy the process, but I saw my skills completely skyrocket. I’m talking faster reading, better listening comprehension, thinking more in Spanish, improved grammar, and beautiful writing.
All because I did what I normally would do in English, but in Spanish.
So, here is a list I personally compiled for you and your Spanish journey. Here are my top 5 favorites and your must-have Spanish novels.
Book #1: La Sombra del Viento (by Carlos Ruis Zafon)
Since I just went on a rant about how much I loved my first book in Spanish, why not start with that one?
Yes! This novel by Carlos Ruis Zafon, titled “La Sombra del Viento,” was the first book I bought and read. It’s absolutely great for the intermediate learner and is very interesting but easy to follow.
Set in the year 1945, this book follows the journeys of Daniel, a Spanish boy who is suffering from the memories of the Spanish Civil War. “La Sombra del Viento,” which means The Shadow of the Wind, is the book that Daniel finds, and throughout the pages of Zafon’s novel readers enjoy colorful expressions of the war consequences Daniel is living with as well as the intriguing and mystical story behind the book he reads.
The book uses vocabulary that intermediate learners will likely be familiar with, and if not, it’s easy to pick up the meaning of the word by context.
Book #2 – La Casa de Los Espiritus (by Isabel Allende)
This is a book I cannot wait to read more of!
Beautiful, twisted, thrilling, and love are just a few words that do this book justice. Isabel Allende’s extremely famous book “La Casa de Los Espiritus” is absolutely perfect for taking your skills from intermediate to advanced.
You will be highly entertained by this breathtaking story! The plot full of bewitching drama and haunted haciendas will take you on an emotional roller coaster and put you on the edge of your seat.
The book follows the Del Valle family through their dramatic story full of spirits, ghosts, love triangles, betrayals, foreign counts, prophecies, foul play and much more.
While this book is much harder than the first, it will definitely help you pick up some more vocabulary as well as give your skills an even greater boost.
Book #3 – Como Agua para Chocolate (by Laura Esquivel)
Loved by many, this novel has nearly become a classic to Spanish culture.
Just like the last book, “Como Agua para Chocolate” is full of raw emotions, hurt, family drama, haunted haciendas and plenty of ghosts and wandering spirits.
Additionally, something very interesting that readers love about this book is that each chapter is named after a month of the year and includes a Mexcian recipe in the beginning.
Set in Mexico, the story follows a Mexican girl who loves to cook but longs for freedom from her strict family who won’t leave tradition behind. Something so fascinating about this book is that Tita, the Mexican girl, expresses herself repeatedly through her cooking. But, as time shows, the emotions she has suppressed in her heart begin coming out in the food she makes, affecting everyone who dares consume them.
Book #4 – Corazón tan Blanco (by Javier Marías)
A classic Spanish novel, “Corazón tan Blanco” was a great hit and major success in the 1990’s.
The story is full of flashbacks experienced by a married man, each one telling us more and more about his tragic past. Who knew that such a tragic event that happened before he was even born would have such an affect on his whole life in the future. However, that was only one of the traumatizing events of this man’s younger years.
Throughout the book, the character learns what it is to truly love, the meaning of marriage, and how to persevere through the pain love can bring.
Discover how beautiful the fragile feelings of a mending heart can be, as well as how reading such emotion-stirring and inspirational books will bring you one step closer to fluency.
Book #5 – El General en su Laberinto (by Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Enough about sappy love stories…maybe you’re one for a good military or “fight for freedom”, “fight for individuality,” type story!
Marquez struck big with his Latin American novel “El General en su Laberinto,” or, “The General in his Labyrinth.”
This story follows a young Latin American general who, through the suffering and frightening events of war, stuck it out and fought hard to the end. However, even the greatest people of power are still human.
However, even in his most painful and darkest last days, this general is not one to give up. The story portrays the perfect picture of a true fighter who loses none of his honor nor passion for the fight for freedom.
And although this military general is fictional, Marquez designed him to model and take after Simón Bolívar, who lead Columbia to liberty.
Reading is a guaranteed way to improve your language skills.
Are you ready to see your language level advance? If so, reading is the perfect way to do that.
If you don’t have much time, reading is also the perfect practice. All it takes is a simple 10 to 15 minutes a day to sit down wherever you are and read a few pages. Plus, it takes minimum effort!
Why not learn a language the way you go through your everyday life? Instead of spending all your time reading in your native language, substitute it for your target language. I can’t wait for you to see the difference, because I sure did!