Learning a new language means new books! At least, we hope it does. There is nothing quite as motivating for starting out on a little language learning than to have pristine pages to turn that will teach us new things. But where do we start? What should we choose? We’re here to help! Here is our quick guide to what books you need to help you learn Spanish.
A dictionary is always a great book to have to hand when studying a language. Most Spanish-English dictionaries come with guides on pronunciation and even verb conjugation tables, so if you’re stuck and need a quick double-check you have somewhere handy to look! The Larousse Concise Dictionary is a great book to invest in with 120,000 translations and 90,000 references to guide you. You will also find common Spanish abbreviations and acronyms as well as proper names, business terms, and computing vocabulary.
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Yes, we know, textbook learning can be dull. But it doesn’t have to be! With the right book to hand, you can work through at your own pace or even get in a little additional practice if you’re working with a language tutor. Practice Makes Perfect Complete Spanish Grammar is a great book for exactly that task.
This is a 350-page workbook that takes you through Spanish grammar points in the form of short explanations and exercises. You can either work cover to cover or go straight for the specific grammar you are needing help with. There are even quick reference vocabulary lists and simple guides for how to avoid common mistakes. And if you want to hear what you are learning, the book also comes with links to audio recordings for the answers. This is a great book to practice Spanish with!
Okay, we’re done with the sensible stuff. How about something just to read in Spanish for fun? Our first choice is Papelucho, a twelve-book children’s book series written by Marcela Paz. These books are considered classics for children in Chile, following the adventures of a character named Papelucho.
We get to see Papelucho’s world through entries in his diary, where he turns everyday events into the most extraordinary of things. This is sort of a Dennis The Menace meets Diary Of A Wimpy Kid adventure so expect silliness and fun as you learn! And yes, we know, it’s a kids book, but why not use that simpler language to your advantage as you learn?
Como Agua Para Chocolate
Como Agua Para Chocolate is a famous Spanish-language book written by Laura Esquivel. The book has been adapted for film and translated into English as Like Water For Chocolate, so although the Spanish version will be difficult to read if you aren’t at least intermediate, level you have plenty of other resources to draw on.
Our protagonist is Tita, who longs to be loved but has been trapped by Spanish tradition, bound to take care of her mother until she dies. The only escape for Tita, the only way to express herself, is through cooking. There are twelve chapters each named after a month, and each opens with a Mexican recipe which is connected to events in Tita’s life. But don’t just expect new food ideas! Fall in love with Tita as she, in turn, falls in love with Pedro, and watch their romance unfold!
La Vida Imaginaria
La Vida Imaginaria is a beautiful book to practice Spanish with. Written by Mara Torres, we follow the story of Nata, whose life goes through the worst upheaval when she is left by her lover Beto. We see Nata bewildered by being alone after so many years, and watch her various attempts at getting over Beto, before finally turning her life around. But not through any traditional means! Nata assumes the persona of Fortunata Fortuna as she gets to grips with who she really is, and learns what it is that she truly wants.
This book would be suitable for more confident beginners or those at intermediate level. Expect colloquial expressions and some turns of phrases you might not have come across before. This is a joyful read of self-rediscovery and a Spanish lesson all in one. What’s not to love?
There are thousands of Hispanic authors just waiting to tell you their stories. Where are you going to start?