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Favorite books and writers from Spain, anyone?

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#1
Does anyone have any favorite books and writers from Spain to share?

Bonus points if their Spanish is within reach of foreigners who are dusting off the castellano of their college years.

(Note that I am NOT asking for writers from Latin America, who tend to be better known internationally. That would be a great topic for a different thread. Also not looking for books by American and British writers, who dominated this thread last year. No García Márquez or Hemingway por favor, ya los conocemos.)

¡Mil gracias!
 

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Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#2
I have read some of Carlos Luis Zafon's books in both English and Spanish. Rather like 'Gothic' novels from Victorian era but good.
Cervantes' Don Quixote in the original Spanish is so much better than the rather doctored English versions, but the Spanish is of the same era as Shakespeare (they died on the same day interestingly) so a dictionary is helpful.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago de Compestela in May(2016)
#3
I have read some of Carlos Luis Zafon's books in both English and Spanish. Rather like 'Gothic' novels from Victorian era but good.
Cervantes' Don Quixote in the original Spanish is so much better than the rather doctored English versions, but the Spanish is of the same era as Shakespeare (they died on the same day interestingly) so a dictionary is helpful.
I enjoyed his books too. Very much in the style of Charles Dickens. Mind you I was reading the english version.
 

stgcph

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Aug/Sep 2017)
#4
I’d recommend Arturo Pérez-Reverte. His books on El capitán Alatriste are quite dramatic but his repertoire is wide, spanning among other subjects Spanish (colonial) history.

I have only read his books in English translation, so I can’t comment on the ease of reading them in Spanish.
 

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Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#6
I’d recommend Arturo Pérez-Reverte. His books on El capitán Alatriste are quite dramatic but his repertoire is wide, spanning among other subjects Spanish (colonial) history.
Thanks!

Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s name comes up a lot. For those of you who enjoy him, what’s a good title to start with?
 

stgcph

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Aug/Sep 2017)
#8
Thanks!

Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s name comes up a lot. For those of you who enjoy him, what’s a good title to start with?
Hard to say, they are very different. I personally like the novel Captain Alatriste (El capitán Alatriste), the first in a series of novels, taking place in 17th century imperial Spain, with a historic plot of war, love, intrigues, personal confrontations, etc. Very entertaining. Incidentally, the novel was made into a movie (I think in 2005) with the Danish actor Viggo Mortensen in the leading role (you may know him from the Lord of the Rings movies). I think it may be on NetFlix, not sure.

But also The Fencing Master (El maestro de esgrima) is an interesting novel.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017 Francés
March 2018 Inglés
(May 2019) Baztan
#11
When walking the Francés between St Jean and Pamplona I enjoyed listening to the Baztán Trilogy by Dolores Redondo. The books take place where I was walking and I saw a lot of the details (eguzkilores and txantxigorris, for example) she included in her books. They are available in Spanish and in English.
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
2019: Francigena? Piémont? Aragonés? Primitivo? I can't decide!
#14
My favorites, from top to bottom.

------------------------------------------------------------------
highly recommended

Julio Llamazares. La lluvia amarilla. 1988. This has been discussed a couple times in the forum. It's a sad, beautiful, and haunting story about the last inhabitant of a village in the Pyrenees.

Javier Cercas. Soldados de Salamina. 2001. A modern day writer tries to understand an incident that took place near the end of the Civil War. The first two-thirds are good, the final third is magnificent.

Mario Vargas Llosa. Travesuras de la niña mala. 2006. This doesn't quite fit your criteria - Llosa is from Peru - but this novel is set in Paris, Tokyo, London, and Madrid. It's interesting to view Madrid through the eyes of a South American. The story revolves around a Peruvian ex-pat and his decades long, off and on again love-affair with la niña mala.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
recommended, with the caveat that I needed an English translation to help me

Miguel de Cervantes. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. 1605. Definitely worth reading, but the Spanish is really hard, at least for someone like me at the lower-intermediate level.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
popular books that didn't quite work for me

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, La sombra del viento. 2001. I read this in English and it was an addictive page-turner. But when I tried to read it in Spanish - and maybe because I read at about 1/5 the pace as in English - I realized that the plot was full of massive holes. I didn't notice them at all when I read it fast.

Arturo Pérez-Reverte. El capitán Alatriste. 1996. I think that this would be another fun page-turner if I could read Spanish at normal speeds. Instead, I struggled with it. There was a lot of new vocabulary, and I think I missed a lot of the plot details. I might come back to this when my Spanish is better.

Javier Marías. Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí. 1995. This guy is supposed to be one of the more popular Spanish authors, but I ended up truly hating this book and never finished. The basic plot is that a woman dies during a one-night stand. We learn this in the first paragraph, but it takes here fifty more pages to finally die. It was fifty pages of the guy thinking: what if she dies? what should I do? over and over again. And then we got another 40 pages of him obsessing over that night, and then I quit in disgust.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
waiting in the wings

It took me awhile to find European Spanish authors too - the Mexican & South American authors are so much better known in the US. I've been keeping tracks of books to read when I get back to studying Spanish. Two at the top of my list:

Ildefonso Falcones. La catedral del mar. 2006. Mentioned a couple times in the forums already. I think this would be great Camino-related reading.

Antonio Muñoz Molina. La noche de los tiempos. 2011. Deals with the fall out from the Civil War. It opens with an exile arriving in New York, so I'm not sure how much exactly takes place in Spain itself. I've also heard that the writing is challenging, so I'll save this one for when my Spanish is much stronger.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (May-July 2017)
Camino Primitivo (May-June 2018)
#15
I have read some of Carlos Luis Zafon's books in both English and Spanish. Rather like 'Gothic' novels from Victorian era but good.
I enjoyed his books too. Very much in the style of Charles Dickens. Mind you I was reading the english version.
+1 for Carlos Ruis Zafón. For the uninitiated, he is well-known for La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind), perhaps the most famous Spanish novel of our young century. This was followed by three more books in the series that is set in Barcelona and referred to as El Cementerio de los Libros Olvidados (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books). I read all four books in Spanish (including the last three on the Camino Francés last year) and loved them. I thought it was full of beautiful writing, memorable characters and evocative settings.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
#16
Viaje a la Alcarria by Camilo José Cela
Divinas Palabras by Ramón Maria del Valle Inclán a tragicomedy in rural Galicia If you know rural Galician customs you will read the whole book laughing, otherwise probably crying.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#17
There is a 3 book set of the Historia de Gil Blas de Santillana. Written in the 1700s in French and translated into Spanish in the 1900s. It is available as a download from the guttenberg library (link as given) and also in paper form from Libros Alcaná, both in Spanish and there is an English version from exclassics. The paper version from Libros Alcaná may be a greater number of shorter books. I have just started reading the Spanish 'epub' version from Guttenberg :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago de Compestela in May(2016)
#18
The Great Westward Walk. (Available on Kindle from Amazon) I've started reading this following others recommendations and can also certainly recommend it. The writer evokes the feelings i too experienced on my Camino but had forgotten. He has a good sense of humour. I understand why others say it is a book to read after you've done your walk. However, reading his troubles with his feet, you should take care to read all about blister prevention before you start. I saw so many people whose walk had become a torture due to foot problems.
 

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#19
El Gran Caminante by Antxon González Gabarain (Bolitx). Also in English as The Great Westward Walk - translation by Rebekah Scott. Incredible book!!
Thanks for this! I just finished reading it and enjoyed it very much. Here’s my Amazon review.

“This review is for readers who, like me, are skeptical of Camino memoirs in general and the ones about a spiritual journey in particular. I’m here to reassure you that you, too, can enjoy this book.

Gabarain is no Chatwin or Theroux, but his book does include enough of the elements of great travel writing to transcend the genre of self-published Camino diaries. He satisfies the fascination that we as a walking species have with what’s around the next bend, and he gives us some of the history of the ancient trail, along with lol-worthy scenes from the contemporary one. Well worth a read.”

The Great Westward Walk: From the Front Door to the End of the Earth https://smile.amazon.com/dp/8461792874/
 

OTH86

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
#20
Thanks for this! I just finished reading it and enjoyed it very much. Here’s my Amazon review.

“This review is for readers who, like me, are skeptical of Camino memoirs in general and the ones about a spiritual journey in particular. I’m here to reassure you that you, too, can enjoy this book.

Gabarain is no Chatwin or Theroux, but his book does include enough of the elements of great travel writing to transcend the genre of self-published Camino diaries. He satisfies the fascination that we as a walking species have with what’s around the next bend, and he gives us some of the history of the ancient trail, along with lol-worthy scenes from the contemporary one. Well worth a read.”

The Great Westward Walk: From the Front Door to the End of the Earth https://smile.amazon.com/dp/8461792874/
Did you read it in Spanish or English? ...or side by side? It's been a very long time since I read Chatwin, but occasionally read Theroux. Both are their own writers, and maybe we should just accept and not compare them. ;)
 

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#22
Which reminds me... In the US, Amazon has a near monopoly on ebooks. Is that true in Spain as well? I haven’t tried buying ebooks from Amazon.es with a US credit card and address; is it possible?
 

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#23
However, reading his troubles with his feet, you should take care to read all about blister prevention before you start. I saw so many people whose walk had become a torture due to foot problems.
I kept wanting to yell at the author, DON’T TAKE A SHOWER IN THE MORNING! It would be sad if the theme of suffering that ran through the book was all because he started each day with soft, soggy feet. :)
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
2019: Francigena? Piémont? Aragonés? Primitivo? I can't decide!
#24
Which reminds me... In the US, Amazon has a near monopoly on ebooks. Is that true in Spain as well? I haven’t tried buying ebooks from Amazon.es with a US credit card and address; is it possible?
Most electronic devices are registered to a set place, & so copyright laws get in the way of buying digital books, movies, or music from another country. I've even had trouble downloading items that I had already bought when I'm overseas (I get an error along the lines of 'this item is not available in your country.').
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (May-July 2017)
Camino Primitivo (May-June 2018)
#25
Which reminds me... In the US, Amazon has a near monopoly on ebooks. Is that true in Spain as well? I haven’t tried buying ebooks from Amazon.es with a US credit card and address; is it possible?
Yes, it is. I switch my account between .es and .com regularly to buy Spanish/English books for kindle and so far I haven't had problems doing it. To do it, go to Your Account -> Manage Your Content and Devices -> Settings -> Country Settings. When you switch your country to Spain, you'll be able to buy from amazon.es. ¡Buena suerte!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (May-July 2017)
Camino Primitivo (May-June 2018)
#27
Yes, it is. I switch my account between .es and .com regularly to buy Spanish/English books for kindle and so far I haven't had problems doing it. To do it, go to Your Account -> Manage Your Content and Devices -> Settings -> Country Settings. When you switch your country to Spain, you'll be able to buy from amazon.es. ¡Buena suerte!
Unfortunately I am now having problems switching countries on Amazon. Shortly after I posted the message above, I switched my country back to Spain to buy a book in Spanish and didn't work, and still isn't working. My country is listed as Spain, but I keep being told that I am not in the correct country to buy from amazon.es. So I'm not sure what to do now.
 

Irenek

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Will begin my first Camino on May 18 (2016)
#28
Unfortunately I am now having problems switching countries on Amazon. Shortly after I posted the message above, I switched my country back to Spain to buy a book in Spanish and didn't work, and still isn't working. My country is listed as Spain, but I keep being told that I am not in the correct country to buy from amazon.es. So I'm not sure what to do now.
I believe you have to register a Spanish adddress as your address, in order to be able to buy from them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (May-July 2017)
Camino Primitivo (May-June 2018)
#29
Previously I just put in a bogus Spanish address and it worked fine, as I switched back and forth a few times. Once that stopped working I put in a real address (of a friend who lives there) and it still doesn't work. But I feel as though it should still work and that the issue is on their end, based on this:

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 16.28.28.png
 

stgcph

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Aug/Sep 2017)
#30
La lluvia amarilla

I just finished reading this book (in Spanish) and thought I’d give my impression of it. I agree that it is a book, which is absolutely worth the effort. This book will suck you into its dark and gloomy universe, and once you start reading, there’s no going back.

This is very good from a Spanish-learners perspective because you are very motivated to keep reading although it is not exactly an easy-read.

It is especially appealing if once you have been walking through one of these small and more or less devastated and deserted villages in the Spanish mountains. Maybe on a nice sunny day it would seem kind of romantic, but imagine living there totally alone and isolated during harsh and dark winters…

On the other hand, there’s no dialog whatsoever in the book. It is all about impressions, memories and imaginations in the mind of the main character. So if you are looking for something to help improve everyday conversational language, this may not be the right book.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#31
@jungleboy Looks like Amazon have altered their site. The whole UK site looks different today. I did not try to see if I could log-in to the .es site but I could not change over to it when logged in on the .co.uk one. Does it still change over to .com, or is that now a problem too. A real nuisance if ordering free kindle books, although I have only actually bought from UK site I have checked things out across sites.
 
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