Looking back on 2012, I’m pretty satisfied with the amount of reading I did, both in English and Spanish. Even though I’ve always loved to read, after college I fell into a slump and my reading rate was pretty pathetic. “Read more” wasn’t a New Year’s goal of mine or anything, but the desire was there. I just couldn’t disentangle myself from that web of laziness, guilt, denial, and way too much time spent online. Then I got really sick in April, read a 500-page-plus mamotreto that a friend brought me in the hospital, and I was off. I just kept reading. Since I had never really read anything in Spanish that wasn’t assigned to me in a class (outside of a few books in 2011), I’m especially pleased about having greatly increased the number of books I read in Spanish. Here’s the official list. It’s not really all that many books, per se, but I’m happy.
1. El amor en los tiempos del cólera – Gabriel García Márquez (novel, Colombia)
2. Bestiario – Julio Cortázar (short story collection, Argentina)
3. Macanudo 7 – Liniers (comic book, Argentina)
4. Relato de un náufrago – Gabriel García Márquez (non-fiction, Colombia)
5. Aura – Carlos Fuentes (novella, Mexico)
6. Tengo miedo – María Mercedes Carranza (poetry, Colombia)
7. Ojos de perro azul – Gabriel García Márquez (short story collection, Colombia)
8. El colonel no tiene quien le escriba – Gabriel García Márquez (novella, Colombia)
9. La hojarasca – Gabriel García Márquez (novella, Colombia)
10. La cárcel – Jesús Zárate (novel, Colombia)
11. Matilda – Roald Dahl (Spanish translation of children’s novel, England)
Honorable mention: I read almost all of Cortázar’s Final del juego. I had to give up, though, when it got super weird and incomprehensible at the end. I read something like 16 of the 18 stories, but then my brain exploded. I’ll try again this year. I also read Eduardo Galeano’s classic Las venas abiertas de América Latina . . . in English. (For shame!) I’ll read it in Spanish one day, I promise. I also read a good number of other books about Latin America, but I also read them in English.
Best read of the year? El amor en los tiempos del cólera, hands down. No contest. That was far and away the best book I’ve read in a long time. I even liked it better than Cien años de soledad (shhhh, don’t tell anyone!), although the books are very different and not really comparable. I love both for very different reasons. I am definitely rereading it this year. And skipping the movie. Bestiario was also excellent– weird, trippy, paranormal, disturbing. I loved it. I also liked Aura a lot. It’s very short– you can read it in a day. And there were some short stories in Ojos de perro azul that really impressed me.
To switch things up, Macanudo 7 was a very fun read. I read it while Couchsurfing with a couple in Buenos Aires. The comic from my post on New Year’s Day is from that series. I would love to get my hands on more Macanudo comic books as well as Mafalda books this year. What an enjoyable way to learn more Spanish! Here, I’ll show you a few strips to give you an idea of the humor.
OK, OK; so I got a little carried away! Well, it’s my blog, and I’ll post what I want to. Anyway, isn’t it great? If you can, I highly recommend reading comics in Spanish. You laugh, you enjoy, you marvel, you learn Spanish. If there was a Spanish version of something like The Far Side, I would be all over it.
Matilda in Spanish was also great fun. I once found a copy of Roald Dahl’s The Witches (Las brujas) in Spanish in Medellín, and my ex and I both read it. It was one of my favorites as a kid, as was Matilda (and the movie based on it). Easy, delightful, nostalgic, and I learned lots of vocabulary to boot. Infinitely better than slaving over a dictionary or flashcards, don’t you think?
Least favorite read in Spanish last year? I can’t say I was crazy about La hojarasca. It was OK, though. Not nearly as bad as the worst book I read last year in English.
I’ve built up a pretty sweet little library of Spanish-language books this past year. Sure, there are many authors that are absolutely impossible to find in the US, but I’ve had some luck discovering others. And sometimes I find them for like–no joke–a dime or 35 cents or so. Perfect condition. My local library also has a decently sized Spanish section. A few authors I plan to read this year are Ernesto Sábato, Juan Goytisolo, Miguel de Unamuno and others. More GGM, pues obvio. And more poetry.
All right, time to hit the books. What did you read last year in Spanish (or English, if that’s what you’re learning)? What do you want to read this year? Or do you think reading’s for the birds? Tell us why, and let us know what you’re doing instead.