Fearless language learners know it well… lots of hours with the language is key to mastering a foreign language. There are plenty of ways to consume Spanish that help you acquire the language: watching movies and TV shows in Spanish, reading books and newspapers in Spanish, or listening to music and podcasts. They all are fantastic ways to improve your Spanish. One of our favorites is reading. Why? Because it allows you to learn new vocabulary in an easier way (listening is harder!), in context and it’s relaxing. For that reason, today we bring you our top 10 books to read to learn Spanish.
Books for Every Spanish Level
Now, there’s a catch. Fluency is a journey powered by consistency. Therefore, you have to be consistent with your language learning strategies.
Finishing a book in Spanish might seem frightening. However, if that book is within your proficiency level, you’ll be able to finish it without too much of a problem. To make sure you succeed in your goal, TruFluency brings you books that help you learn Spanish for each level.
Spanish Books for Beginners
Papelucho by Marcela Paz
This book tells the story of a boy called Papelucho (Paper Boy), who lives in Chile. He is poor and delivers newspapers to make some money. As he goes on various adventures, he writes in his journal. Thus, from a child’s perspective, we explore social injustice and class divisions in Chile.
Papelucho comprises a series of 12 books that will keep you busy as you move forward in your Spanish fluency. Though aimed at young teenagers, any reader can relate to the stories.
Azul by Rubén Darío
Written in simple language (perfect for A1 or A2 level students), Azul is a collection of short stories and poetry by Nicaraguan author Rubén Darío. This book is considered one of his greatest works and is divided into two parts. One is dedicated to prose and the other one is to poetry. Therefore, it’s the perfect choice for language-lovers.
Caperucita en Manhattan by Carmen María Gaita
This book is a modern adaptation of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault. What if, instead of the woods, the story had taken place in NYC? Then, you get a quite different plot. In this book, we meet Sarah Allen, a 10-year-old from Brooklyn. Her desire is to go to Manhattan to bring her grandma a strawberry pie. However, on the way, she’ll have to face some dangerous things. It’s helpful to read stories that you already know a little bit about. Since you already know this story in English, it’s easier to follow along.
Spanish Books for Intermediate Readers
Como agua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel
If you’re interested in culture and cooking, then this book is a wonderful read. It is the love story of Tita, a young Mexican girl, who is in love with her sister’s fiancé. Esquivel introduces us to each chapter with the recipe of a Mexican dish. These recipes work into the plot seamlessly and give an added cultural touch to the story. Therefore, you intellectually get the feeling of eating something delicious while enjoying all the drama. Watch the movie (with or without subtitles) before reading the book to help you understand the more complicated dialogues and story details.
Crónica de una muerte anunciada by Gabriel García Márquez
The story of Santiago Nasar starts at the end and then progresses back towards the beginning. You know a murder has taken place, but you’ll have to keep reading to discover who has done it and, most importantly, why. This is a challenging author, so skip the big words and just keep pushing forward. You don’t need to learn some of the detailed words anyway, since they sound more like literature.
La casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca
La casa de Bernarda Alba is an excellent option for intermediate readers with an interest in the history of Spain. It follows a family who’s mourning the death of their father. This serves as an excuse to think about feminism, repression, and post-war Spain. Therefore, it’s a story about women and their reactions to a traditional society where women play a secondary role.
Spanish Books for Advanced Readers
El túnel by Ernesto Sábato
Do you like reading dark psychological thrillers and want to improve your Spanish at the same time? Then it’s time to read the story about Juan Pablo Castel. From jail, he tells us the reasons that motivated him to murder his lover, María Iribarne. In his darkness, we get to know more about the protagonist’s past, present, and future. In this way, Sábato explores themes such as loneliness, alienation, and fear.
La ciudad de las bestias by Isabel Allende
Do you love fantasy-adventure novels? Then read Isabel Allende’s books. After his mother’s death, Alexander Cold is sent to live with his grandma, a journalist working in the remote Amazon rainforest. She is interested in documenting the legendary Amazon Yeti, known as the Beast. Consequently, her grandson will help her with this task. In this journey, Alexander will learn more about human nature.
Cien años de soledad by Gabriel García Márquez
This sweeping intergenerational story is worth a read in its original language. In a fantastical and grippingly real plot, we meet the Buendía family. They live in Macondo, a fictional town, where we follow them through time and turmoil. Hence the author makes a symbolic representation of Colombia’s history.
Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes
No list of best books to learn Spanish can leave behind Don Quijote de la Mancha. The story centers around a nobleman, Don Quijote. His obsession is chivalry, and he has a squire, Sancho Panza, who joins him in his adventures. They hope to commit heroic deeds, so they travel across Spain. This book is in a complex language. Thus, we recommend it to people with a C1/C2 level or adventurous learners. This is typically read in college Spanish literature classes, so if you don’t want a super challenging book, don’t pick this one up! It reminds us of the complex plays of Shakespeare since it was written hundreds of years ago.
They say even native speakers find it complicated to read, so if you love a complex text, this one will please you.