Are you feeling a bit bored by your journey to learn Spanish?
Have you struggled to find books to learn Spanish that interest you?
Do you wish you could fast-forward the learning process so you can get to the fun stuff?
Then maybe some extensive reading is the solution.
Today's post is all about the best Spanish books for beginners and why reading should be a valuable part of your learning plan.
In this post, you'll learn about:
Reading a Spanish book is a doable challenge for beginners – if you choose the right material.
Best of all, it gives you a window into Spanish culture that will be a new source of motivation for you to keep learning.
It’s no secret that reading is beneficial for your language skills, whether you are actively learning a language or just reading for fun.
In fact, even if you’re not a fan of reading in your own language, which, in the tech-filled ADHD world that we live in today is not that uncommon, you should still consider reading a book in Spanish to help you improve your language skills.
How exactly is reading better than watching a video or having a conversation, you ask?
The key to reading is to find a book that is suitable for you.
If you don’t choose an appropriate book there’s no way you’ll log off Facebook and sit down to read for a few quiet hours.
(Recommendations given below.)
First things first, choose a book that you’re going to find interesting.
This may sound obvious but years of being force-fed To Kill a Mockingbird or An Inspector Calls at school means that we may find reading more of a chore than a pleasure. And if that’s the case, you’ll never get through a book in Spanish!
Make sure you are genuinely interested in the book you are going to read. If that means that you’d rather read Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal than Don Quixote, that’s absolutely fine – whatever’s going to get you to turn the page.
You are doomed to fail if you are bored before you get to page two, so make sure to choose something you'll enjoy!
You won’t get very far if you feel overwhelmed by a book that’s too long. Shorter books don’t necessarily mean children’s books.
There are a range of Spanish graded readers which make classic and contemporary novels accessible to any level of reader.
You can even read comics or graphic novels in Spanish if that's what you prefer.
The best thing to do is try to read a page or two before you buy the book. If you can understand everything, it’s too easy.
If you can’t understand anything, it’s too hard.
Aim to understand about 80% of what you read, so you get the gist of what’s going even if there are still some words and phrases you need to look up.
Ok, so now that you know why reading is beneficial and what kind of books you should choose, it's time to get started!
If you're already at the intermediate level, then the books below will be a bit too easy for you. But don't worry, I made a video for my Fluent Spanish Academy youtube channel about five books that are perfect intermediate learners:
Or if you're still a beginner, here are five of my favourite books for beginner Spanish learners.
Short stories are the perfect way to engage in reading while not committing to an entire novel. These short stories are enjoyable and interesting while at the same time providing a range of vocabulary and grammar which should challenge your Spanish.
With a glossary and a quiz after every story, these are books are perfect if you want to spend a couple hours learning Spanish in a fun, relaxed way. And if you feel the beginner stories are a little too easy for you, there’s also an intermediate version.
Some more short stories, part of a series by Penguin, this book includes eight short stories by famous Spanish-language writers such as Fuentes, Molinas, Marquez and Cortazar.
The book is laid out so that the Spanish text is on the left-hand page and the English translation is on the right-hand page meaning can read in parallel. It's a handy way to save yourself time looking up words in a dictionary.
(If you like the idea of short stories and are up for even more of a challenge, try El Hacedor by Jorge Luis Borges. These stories tackle quite complex topics, but each is under 1,000 words long, making them a bit easier to handle than other similar texts).
Young adult fiction is another great way to get involved in foreign language literature. This award-winning Spanish writer has written numerous teen novels, but this coming-of-age story is surely his most highly acclaimed.
Set in Barcelona, it’s a thriller about a teenage boy in the period after the Spanish Civil War. It’s one of the best-selling Spanish books of all time and its English translation (The Shadow of the Wind) topped the bestseller list as well.
Las Casa de los Espíritus is the book that put Chilean author Isabel Allende on the map. This is another young adult novel which will appeal to all ages. The story chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Trueba family over four generations, incorporating the elements of magical realism which makes novels of this genre so spectacular.
The story is a metaphor for the history of Chile through the 20th century and will give you fascinating insight into what Chilean society and culture were like in those times.
You may be familiar with the allegorical tales of this Brazilian novelist, but this particular one has the honour of setting a Guinness World Record for being the most translated book by any living author. Originally written in Portuguese, it has been translated into 70 different languages.
It tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd who has a prophetic dream which sends him on a journey of self-discovery. The theme of the book – finding your destiny – has struck a chord with readers all over the world and it has become one of the best-selling books in history.
So, there you have it. Take your pick and find yourself a comfy place where you can relax and indulge in some Spanish reading. Have your Spanish-English dictionary on hand to look up those words you don’t know and your vocabulary book to note them down.
But above all, make sure this is an enjoyable aspect of your Spanish learning so that you’ll want to come back and do it again.
And again. And again.
Still Want More?
If you like the idea of learning Spanish with stories, you should consider my Spanish programmes for beginner and intermediate level.
With the Fluent Spanish Academy you'll discover the secret of learning Spanish for pleasure, and discover an enjoyable, effective method like no other!
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