Reading books in Spanish is one of the best ways to improve your comprehension of the language and broaden your everyday vocabulary but, depending on your level, it can be a challenge to get through an entire novel in español. Before you try to tackle the much-talked-about classics such as Cervantes’ Don Quixote, here are five other Spanish books to download on your Kindle and settle down on the sofa with.
1. El día que se perdió la cordura by Javier Castillo (1987)
Recommended for: lovers of suspense
This is the first book from young thirty-something-year-old Spanish author Javier Castillo. It was originally published online and became one of the best selling electronic books on Spain’s Amazon. It’s a suspenseful, romantic thriller that centers on an investigation, led by two protagonists Dr Jenkins (director of a psychiatric ward) and Stella Hyden (FBI agent), into the incident of a naked man found walking the streets of Boston carrying the decapitated head of a young woman. A series of strange, dangerous incidents events unfold that make the characters (and the reader) question their perception of sanity. Not one for the squeamish or faint of heart as the book includes some shocking descriptive imagery.
2. Todo lo que ganamos cuando lo perdimos todo by Eduardo Verdú (2018)
Recommended for: soccer lovers and politics buffs
This is a gripping political novel based on real-life events and famed German soccer player Lutz Eigendorf, who played for East Germany’s Dynamo team in Berlin in the 70s. Following a friendly match between his team and a West German team in West Germany in 1979, Eigendorf suddenly defects to West Germany in search of freedom, abandoning his poor wife and two-year-old daughter and his life in Berlin. Unfortunately for him, the president of his soccer team, Erich Mielke, is also head of the Stasi intelligence service and a painful secret service battle ensues. Will Eigendorf ever return? You’ll have to read it to find out.
3. La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes by unknown author (1554)
Recommended for: more advanced Spanish speakers
This is another famous Spanish classic from the 16th century that's a little easier on the brain than Don Quixote. Written in the form of a letter, it tells the life story of anti-hero Lazarillo as he muddles his way through the trials and tribulations of life in those days. It has a satirical tone and pokes fun at the hypocrisy of the religious figures of the times and the Spanish Inquisition. Given that the book was written hundreds of years ago, the language is quite old-fashioned and so might take you a little longer to get through than a piece of modern day Spanish literature.
4. Nada by Carmen Laforet (1944)
Recommended for: insight into Spanish history and culture
If you want to broaden your knowledge and understanding of the Spanish Civil War, one of the most difficult times in Spanish history, this award-winning novel takes a critical look at life after the war and the poverty and hardship that it caused. It’s a coming-of-age story through the eyes of a young girl Andrea who moves to Barcelona to study and start afresh. It follows the emotional disillusionment she goes through living with her grandma and reconciling fond memories of her childhood home with her new estranged situation.
5. Manolito Gafotas by Elvira Lindo (1994)
Photo credits: Silvia Fernandez, Flickr
Recommended for: Spanish beginners
Set in the Spanish capital, this heartwarming series of children’s books is particularly relevant if you’re studying Spanish in Madrid. They follow the life adventures of 10-year-old bespectacled Manolito Gafotas (which literally translates as Manolito four-eyes) a young boy finding his way in the big bad world, from vying for the affections of the one-and-only Susana to avoiding confrontations with the school bully Ozzy and offloading his thoughts about life on the school psychologist. These books are great for beginners as they use easy language and will teach you a lot of useful, everyday Spanish words. There are also a series of Manolito films that you can watch in conjunction with reading the books to help you gain an even better grasp of the language and pronunciation.
Read any other great Spanish books that you’d like to recommend? List the titles in our comments section below.