The school year is almost over in the United States and the well-deserved summer is about to start. Summertime can be the ideal moment to catch up on some reading.
There are some books about the Spanish language that I have read throughout the last couple of years that I found to be interesting and entertaining at the same time. Yes, entertaining! I liked them because they cover the history of the Spanish language, language curiosities and the historical background of words without being boring.
If you can add any of these books to your summer reading list, you will be able to combine the pleasure of reading with learning about the Spanish language. Plus, if Spanish is not your native language, you can also practice reading skills and refresh your vocabulary.
Spanish Summer Reading Books:
My 9 Suggestions for Spanish Teachers and Language Lovers
Las 101 cagadas del español: Reaprende nuestro idioma y descubre algunas curiosidades
by María Irazusta
• I bought this book last year in a bookstore in Spain and finished it before I returned back home to Miami a couple weeks later.
• This book is a compilation of short articles that cover different topics from grammar, Spanish sayings, and the origin words.
• The short article format allows you to read it in any order you want.
• Light, entertaining and fun to read.
Compendio ilustrado y azaroso de todo lo que siempre quiso saber sobre la lengua castellana
Edited by Fundación de Español Urgente
• This book is one of my favorites, I bought it when it was released by Fundación de Español Urgente (Fundéu) in 2012.
• This book is a collection of short clippings about the correct use of the Spanish language presented in an easy-to-understand way.
• Includes a lot of curiosities about the language that you can later share with your students.
• There is no table of contents in this book so, if you find something interesting you should mark it right away!
• Interesting and easy to read.
3. Mitos del la lengua: Reflexiones sobre el lenguaje y nosotros, sus hablantes
Edited by María del Pilar Montes de Oca
• This is the book I am currently reading now.
• Many authors contributed to this compilation that exposes and explains 17 myths about the Spanish language. For example: “There are good and bad words,” “The Spanish language shouldn’t change -anglicisms are killing the Spanish language” and “The best Spanish is the Colombian Spanish.”
• Short independent readings that allow you to jump around the book.
4. De dónde viene: El lado oscuro de las palabras by Arturo Ortega Morán
• This was one of my favorite readings.
• This book includes interesting stories about the history of common words in Spanish divided into 60 chapters.
• The stories explain how they evolve and how they are related to others.
• From a native speaker perspective, it was fascinating to know about the origin of common words that we use every day. For example, words like desayuno, aguinaldo, dinero, amor, and calzado are among the stories featured here. One of my favorite chapters was “Words From the House” (Palabras de casa).
5. Defensa apasionada del idioma español
by Alex Grijelmo
• This book was originally assigned to me for a class when I was in college. I bought it again to re-read it 17 years later with a different perspective.
• It includes 16 essays about how the Spanish language is being threatened by poor school education, the English language, and political-economical interests.
• Some essays are more extensive than others, but it is a good nightstand reading. Again, this is a book where you can read in any order.
6. La andadura del español por el mundo
by Humberto López Morales
• This is the longest book about the Spanish language that I have ever read.
• The author covers the historical aspect as the Spanish language was formed. This book takes you on the journey of the Spanish language since it arrived in America to present-day.
• It also covers the current situation of the Spanish language such as the influence of English and the dialectal variations of different Spanish-speaking countries.
• Full of facts, maps, statistics, and history.
• Dense and extensive reading, but well-written and SUPER interesting.
7. Spanish Word Histories and Mysteries: English Words That Come From Spanish
Edited by American Heritage Dictionaries
• This is the only book in English from this list.
• The book features 150 words from English that has a Spanish origin. Each word includes the historical background and when each one entered the English language.
• Organized in alphabetical order.
• A lot of history! You and your students will be amazed knowing that words like barbecue, hazard, and mustang have a Spanish origin.
8. Hablemos de cómo hablamos: Curiosidades sobre la lengua y sus hablantes
Edited by María del Pilar Montes de Oca
• This is my next book in the pipeline.
• I love to read about the Spanish language curiosities and this book looks like it’s full of them. Topics vary from language characteristics, dialects, language changes and slang.
• It combines short and long readings.
9. Lengua viva: Reflexiones sobre el lenguaje actual
by María Josefa Sánchez-Reyes de Palacio
• This will be another of my readings for this summer.
• This book is a collection of articles originally published in the Cervantina magazine about the use of the Spanish language.
• Includes articles about grammar, Spanish words from the Americas and more.
I believe that you will enjoy these books as much as I did. It is always amazing to discover the history of our language.
Check out these other articles on Spanish Books.