This is a list of the foreign-language books I've read or am considering reading. I have a separate list of reference books to help read foreign novels. You might also check out my advice for choosing a foreign novel to read.



Ojos de agua, Domingo Villar. This was the first Spanish novel I ever read, and I enjoyed it enormously. Highly recommended.

La playa de los ahogados, Domingo Villar. Twice as long as Ojos de agua, but still a fun read. 

El Asesinato de Pitágoras, Marcos Chicot. My first attempt to read a best seller. It's a great story, but at 700 pages, it's a big commitment. 

La gaviota, Fernán Caballero. I was assigned this in 1976 by my Spanish teacher in high school, but I didn't finish it until 2014. It's really awful. Hard to read and not rewarding when you do.

En un rincón del alma, Antonia J. Corrales. A modern literary novel. It was okay, but I felt the protagonist's problems were largely self-inflicted, and that took a lot away from it. I wouldn't suggest it for a beginner in any case.

Como agua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel. It's a great read for a strong intermediate. Biggest problem is all the cooking vocabulary. Reviewed December 2014.

La Sombra del Viento (El cementerio de los libros olvidados nº 1) Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A really great read, but a challenge for an intermediate reader. Reviewed July 2015.

In Progress

Los cinco soles de México, Carlos Fuentes. These are separate stories, many of them famous and/or award winning. But it's really, really hard. I'll pick it up again when I've got more novels under my belt.


These are books that passed my selection process and which I actually purchased but which I haven't started yet. I'd welcome comments from anyone who has read any of them.

El enigma de los vencidos Armando Rodera

Cien años de soledad Gabriel García Márquez

Ficciones Jorge Luis Borges

El Manuscrito 1. El secreto Blanca Miosi

La Búsqueda, el niño que se enfrentó a los nazis Blanca Miosi, Fernando Hidalgo Cutillas

Naufragios de Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

Conversación en La Catedral Mario Vargas Llosa

The Cloud: ¿Qué sucedería si una única empresa controlara toda la información del mundo? Mario Escobar

Los enamoramientos Javier Marías



Scarabeo: Serie di Michele Ferrara #1 by Michele Giuttari. The first Italian novel I read all the way through. I piecked it because my sister-in-law likes the author in English. It's rather gruesome, but if that doesn't bother you, it generally moves right along.

Doppio Omicidio per il Maresciallo Maggio (I Racconti della Riviera Vol. 1) Francesco Zampa. This is more of a novella than a real novel. It was a fairly easy read but a completely forgettable story.

Sostiene Pereira by Antonio Tabucchi. A great first novel for an intermediate student. Reviewed November 15, 2014.

La forma dell'acqua by Andrea Camilleri. Contains too many non-Italian words to be suitable for a non-native to read. Reviewed January 20, 2015.

Seta by Alessandro Baricco (2008). A very short (108 pages), very easy historical novel about a Frenchman in the 1860s who travels to dangerous places to try to save his town's silk business. Reviewed January 28, 2015.

In Progress

Tutte le novelle by Giovanni Verga. This is a collection of hundred-year-old short stories. I got it because someone suggested it was easy for an intermediate student. But it's not. I've read the first story, and I'll attempt the others over time as my Italian improves.


These are books that passed my selection process and which I actually purchased but which I haven't started yet. I'd welcome comments from anyone who has read any of them.

Uno, nessuno e centomila Luigi Pirandello

Canne al vento Grazia Deledda

L'abito da sposa Elisabetta Randazzo

Il nome della rosa: Nuova edizione Umberto Eco

Altri libertini Pier Vittorio Tondelli

Le Avventure di Pinocchio Carlo Collodi

La loggia degli innocenti: Serie di Michele Ferrara #2 Michele Giuttari



Cinq semaines en ballon by Jules Verne. Reviewed October 28, 2014.
Candide by Voltaire. Reviewed January 2015

In Progress

Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth) by Jules Verne.


These are books that passed my selection process and which I actually purchased but which I haven't started yet. I'd welcome comments from anyone who has read any of them.

L'ange gardien: Un thriller psychologique, un suspense magistral John La Galite(Jean Michel Sakka)

Mystère de la chambre jaune. Gaston Leroux

Le Père Goriot Balzac




Leonard said...

For your Italian literary enjoyment I strongly recommend a series of Fantozzi books by Paolo Villaggio. I have never laughed so hard while reading a book.

Greg Hullender said...

Thanks! I'll have a look.

Unknown said...

Greg thanks for all your helpful and insightful posts. You mention Canne al vento Grazia Deledda. I am English and have been living in Italy for some years and I speak Italian fairly well. I have found Deledda is quite easy to read and she describes rural life in her native Sardegna very well. Her characterization is very convincing and involving but maybe a little weak on story content. I wonder if you could confirm something for me. I'm going to buy a kindle and I need to buy a paperwhite and not the cheaper touch if I want to be able to consult a bilingual dictionary with one click (as the preinstalled monolingual dictionaries). Have I understood it right ? Thanks again for your interesting posts

Greg Hullender said...

Thanks for the info!

I just looked at the user's guide to the Basic Kindle, and it says it supports multiple dictionaries the same way the Paperwhite and Voyage do.

Unknown said...

Hello Greg I wrote to earlier this month about Grazie Deledda and the latest kindle. Thanks again for your advice. Today I received my kindle. (My first) It is very very impressive. Maybe I'm telling you things you already know but, it seems the latest model (I have the basic touch model) lets you access any dictionary. For example if you click on a word then the definition appears from the monolingual dictionary. But if you click on the name of the dictionary which is the bottom right hand corner of the window, then you get the option to choose any dictionary on the device. If you click on the bilingual dictionary it immediately gives you the english translation. I'm not sure but it doesn't seem to have a default dictionary. It seems to automatically open the dictionary last used. Anyway it's really easy to use. Regards.

Greg Hullender said...

Yes. I gave you a link to the Basic Kindle user's manual (above). Did you not see it? Anyway, I'm happy to hear that it works as expected.

So has it helped you read a novel yet?

Unknown said...

Hello Greg Sorry I didn't explain myself very well. I did see your previous post together with the link. It was what finally convinced me to get a kindle. As I said I am impressed and, yes, I am reading a novel: Pirandello's novelle per un anno. They are a bit heavy going - I remember you said you gave them a try. I've only been at it for a few days but when I've read a good few of them, I'll let you know what I think. Regards Ashley

Busworker said...

My native language is English. For Italian, I highly recommend Italo Calvino's "Marcovaldo ovvero Le stagioni in città" . The language is simple but beautiful, and the stories are very entertaining. I also enjoyed - and found relatively easy - Alberto Moravia's short story collection "Racconti romani" and Leonardo Sciascia's novel "Il Giorno della Civetta."