Whether you are an avid bookworm who wants to get deeper into exploring the variety of literature that Latin and Spanish culture has to offer, or if you simply need to read a book as an assignment for your Spanish class, never forget that reading comprehension is one of the linguistic competencies that you most certainly need to hammer out before being able to say you rock at Spanish.
Reading a book in the language that it was originally written is very much like having your favorite dish in its country of origin: an enhanced experience. Furthermore, Latin and Spanish literature have mucho more to offer than just being a means to an end. They are stories and verses impregnated with cultural happenings and unique perspectives.
For this, I have brought you a selection of books so you can dive into some amazing Latin and Spanish literature. (No excuses, my beginner friends, for the first 5 books are at your skill level.)
Un Pingüino en el Desierto, by Carlos Puerto (1997)
In this fantastic novel, Jaima, a girl who lives in a magical town in Tunisia, decides to leave her home in the search of the map of life, accompanied by her special pet, a penguin. It is a magical journey across Tunisia that teaches us that one must find his or her own way in this world.
Cuchilla, by Evelio José Rosero (2000)
“Cuchilla” is an alcoholic and repulsive man that is in love with a woman who is always on the verge of dumping him. This story is told by two of Cuchilla’s students; one is irremediably in love with the professor’s wife, while the other is terrified by the teacher. This story explores the complexity of human nature from a teenage perspective.
El Principito, by Antonie de Saint-Exupéry (1943)
Alright, this version might not be in its original language of publication. However, the importance of reading this book lies in that is a story that most of us know. If you are a beginner, you might find it easier reading about a topic you have previous knowledge of. Besides that, I think no one has ever regretted reading this beautiful story for a second time. For those of you extraterrestrials who have never heard about this fantastic story, El Principito, is about just that: an extraterrestrial young prince that has fallen to the earth from his home, a tiny asteroid.
¿Quién Hizo los Mundos? Leyendas de las Américas, by Aída E. Marcuse (2008)
This book consists of a compilation of legends and mythology of all native America, from the imaginative legacy of the Inuits to the philosophy of Mapuches. They are stories that tell us about how flowers and trees were born, how animals managed to get the sun shining, and many others.
Bajo las Palmas Reales: Una Infancia Cubana, by Alma Flor Ada (2000)
This is a biographic novel on the author’s childhood memories while she was growing up in her hometown of Camaguey, Cuba. The novel contains episodes of her family story and traditions that marked her life forever.
Now, if you are feeling a little bit more experienced in the art of reading the Spanish prose, you may want to take a dive into any of these delicious titles:
El Beso de la Mujer Araña, by Manuel Puig (1976)
This is a novel that depicts the daily conversations of two cellmates and the bond that is formed during the process.
Rayuela, by Julio Cortázar (1963)
Referred to as a “counter-novel” by the author himself, this book can be read in at least a couple of ways. The story doesn’t follow a linear plot. It is more like a stream of consciousness of two old friends, told separately and with no apparent correlation.
Aura, by Carlos Fuentes (1962)
A short novel that intertwines the life of Felipe – who just recently found his dream job in a newspaper ad- and Aura, a timid young woman who lives guarded by her aunt at the house where Felipe just started working.
100 Años de Soledad, by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)
This extensive novel tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founded the town of Macondo.
La Mano de Fuego, by Alberto Ruy Sánchez (2007)
This multi-layered book of love affairs could easily have been a story taken from the “1001 Nights.” It is a provocative labyrinth of the exploration of love and its pulses.