I wrote a post earlier about how reading is the most convenient way to practice a language. You have a 5 minute wait for your pizza to be ready? Get out your book and read! You have a 20 minute bus ride to the yoga class you’re taking? Get out your book! Yes, music is convenient too but if you’re anything like me… you have no idea where your headphones are at this moment. So reading it is!
I’ve been reading more and more lately and thought I would share with you the treasures I’ve found. Here are 4 books that I’ve read that would be great to practice your Spanish with!
But first…. Listen, Linda. If you’re a novice, skip these books. They’re not easy. You’re not going to want to sit there and struggle reading the first 3 sentences for 30 minutes. There is no pleasure in that which means there is absolutely not any learning happening. Go for something easy. A song lyrics, a short poem, a brief narrative, whatever it may be. Be honest with yourself with where you are and find something that is at your level! Something you enjoy and that makes you feel good with where you’re at in your learning. Not something that will make you want to quit on life. Definitely a feeling you don’t need to feel. At all.
So for all you, advanced munchkins, here are some really awesome books.
1. El alquimista - Paulo Coelho
I bought this one for my language library collection to share with my learners. It seemed like an easy and short read. Which it is! So one day, while my learners had free reading time, I picked it up and started reading it. I am now less than 20 pages from finishing it and I’m probably going to reread it many many times. There are so many beautiful yet simple quotes found in there that I just want to write everything I read on post-it notes and stick them on my mirror. I just can’t repeat this enough…. It’s a beautiful beautiful book. A perfect one to dip your toe in if you’re nervous about taking on a reading challenge.
2. El amante japones - Isabel Allende
Basically, just ready any book by Isabel Allende. That woman knows how to tell a good story. As you can guess from the title, it is more of a love story but it also has a lot of historical information too. It talks about the relocation of Japanese-Americans into internment during WWII. It’s sweet and heart-wrenching all at the same time. I downloaded it on my Kindle and took it with me everywhere I went.
3. La casa de los espíritus - my homegirl, Isabel Allende
I actually have not read this one in Spanish. I read this in high school (in English) and, much to my surprise, it took down Jane Eyre as my number 1 book. Something I thought (and actively fought against) would never happen. What I love about this book is the history that it covers. It’s beautifully written so that you get to know both the characters and the political climate in which they live. A lot of rich South American history. It’s a long book but there is just so much depth to the story. Definitely not an easy read, I would build my way up to this. But I can’t not include it on this list. Props to my high school teacher for introducing me to this. Life-changer.
4. Cuando era puertorriqueña - Esmeralda Santiago
This book hints at so many different topics: immigration, cultural appropriation, feminism, emotional abuse, bilingualism, the loss of a native language, disconnection from a home country, and much much more. It’s rich in its meaning and symbolism through the use of simple stories as it is told from the perspective of a young girl. I know that it is a book often read in college Spanish classes especially in the classes offered to Spanish majors/minors. So if you’re learning on your own then this would be a great way to test your skills. I also bought this book for my language library set but have yet to use it. The chapters are short and straightforward but it uses a large amount of colloquial language. It is set in Puerto Rico so there are many words that I had to look up because I just wasn’t too familiar with their vocabulary. But after living in Puerto Rico for a month, it did make it much much easier to follow along! So if you’re planning on traveling there then read THIS!!
Something I have mentioned before and will mention again and again… Do NOT worry about finishing a book. This isn’t preparatory school. You are supposed to enjoy this. It’s your own choice. Know yourself enough to realize when you want to stop because you want to take the easy route (which is totally ok at times!) and when you need to stop because what you’re reading is just not your jam. Be honest, be responsible, and look for the joy!