Popular Novels to read in Spanish

For everyone leaning spanish and looking to dive into new and exciting novels, many of the most famous pieces of literature are in fact written by Spanish writers and are stories that caputre the interests of different audiences.

Reading novels in Spanish will not only improve your oral language skills, but your written skills as well. Reading is also a great way to stay sharp mentally and relax after a long day.

Many novels also take place in different coutries during different time periods. While I was taking my Spanish literature courses in college, it felt like I was learning more about the cultures by the vocabulary that was written, the storyline and what was going in general during Spanish and Spanish-American history.

Here is a list of 10 well-known novels in Spanish that can be found in any library  or bookstore in Boulder or Denver or online at Amazon.

1. One Hundred Year of Sotlitude by Gabriel Gracia Marquez: (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) is a 1967 novel by that tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriach José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo, , the metaphoric  Colombia.

2. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes:  Fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha). It follows the adventures of a nameless hidalgo (at the end of Part II given the name Alonso Quixano) who reads so many chivalric novels that he loses his sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote. He recruits a simple farmer,  Sanch Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthly wit in dealing with Don Quixote’s rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood . Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is, and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story. The story implements various themes, such as intertextuality, realism, metatheatre, and literary representation.

3. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende: The novel was rejected by several Spanish-language publishers before being published in Barcelona, Spain  in 1982. It became an instant best seller, was critically acclaimed, and catapulted Allende to literary stardom. The story details the life of the Trueba family, spanning four generations, and tracing the post-colonial social and political upheavals of Chile – though the country’s name, and the names of figures closely paralleling historical ones, such as “the President”  or “the Poet”, are never explicitly given. The story is told mainly from the perspective of two protagonists (Esteban and Alba) and incorporates elements of magical realism.

4. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig:(El beso de la mujer araña) The novel’s form is unusual in that there is no traditional narrative voice, one of the primary features of fiction. It is written in large part as dialogue, without any indication of who is speaking, except for a dash (-) to show a change of speaker. There are also parts of stream of consciousness. What is not written as dialogue or stream of consciousness is written as metafictional government documentation. The conversations between the characters, when not focused on the moment at hand, are recountings of films that Molina has seen, which act as a form of escape from their environment. Thus there are a main plot, several subplots, and five additional stories that comprise the novel.

5. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges: the most popular collection of short stories  by  Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges, often considered the best introduction to his work. Ficciones emphasizes and calls attention to its fictional nature. The choice and use of literary devices are conspicuous in the stories.

6. La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia: a play  by the Spanish dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca. It centers on the events of a house in Andalusia  during a period of mourning, in which Bernarda Alba (aged 60) wields total control over her five daughters Angustias (39 years old), Magdalena (30), Amelia (27), Martirio, (24), and Adela (20). The housekeeper (La Poncia) and Bernarda’s elderly mother (María Josefa) also live there. The deliberate exclusion of any male character from the action helps build up the high level of sexual tension that is present throughout the play. Pepe “el Romano”, the love interest of Bernarda’s daughters and suitor of Angustias, never appears on stage. The play explores themes of repression, passion, and conformity, and inspects the effects of men upon women.

7. Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda:  (Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada) is a collection of romantic poems by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, first published in 1924 when Neruda was 19. It was Neruda’s second published work, and made his name as a poet.Veinte poemas was controversial for its eroticism, especially considering its author’s very young age. Over the decades, Veinte poemas has become Neruda’s best-known work, and has sold more than a million copies.

8. Una Noche con Sabrina Love by Pedro Mairal: Located in the Argentinian countryside, seventeen year-old Daniel Montero has been raised by his grandmother  and is working in a poultry processing plant and meeting his friends in the square to make small talk. He saves some money from his salary and buys an old television, where he watches late night porn shows of Sabrina Love. Daniel wins a contest to spend one night with Sabina Love in Buenos Aires. Daniel discovers many truths during his brief stay.

9.  El Coronel no tiene quien le escribe by Gabriel Garcia Marquez:  Thee story of an impoverished, retired  colonel  a veteran of the Thousand Days War, who still hopes to receive the pension  he was promised some fifteen years earlier. The colonel lives with his asthmatic wife in a small village under martial law. The action opens with the colonel preparing to go to the funeral of a town musician whose death is notable because he was the first to die from natural causes in many years. The novel is set during the years of “La Violencia” in Colombia, when martial law and censorship prevail.

10. La Ciudad y Los Perros by Mario Vargas Llosas: Set among a community of cadets in a Lima military school (the Leoncio Prado Military Academy), it is notable for its experimental and complex employment of multiple perspectives. The novel was so accurate in its portraiture of the academy “that the academy’s authorities burned 1000 copies and condemned the book as a plan by Ecuador to denigrate Peru