Specific books to get from Madrid, or to buy online when available

My friend Janakay was asking me, at one point, what books I’d like my sister to bring me from Madrid this summer. Over my 24 years in Houston, she’s visited us twice. Lord willing, she’ll come to see us this summer with her boyfriend. There’s a wonderful group of book sellers in Spain, called Uniliber, where one can search books and their unified database will tell you which bookstores have that book. One of their big bookstores is located in Madrid. Its name is Librerías Alcaná. I’ve been there only once, and my visit went too fast. I’d do anything to be able to teletransport me there.

Since both my sis and her boyfriend travel light, they’ve given me permission to order whatever I please, that they’ll transport it over the ocean for me, yay! I can order from the commodity of my home, pay here, send the books to her address, and she’ll hopefully bring them safe and sound to me.

We all have different reading DNA’s, don’t we? It’s such a source of joy to me to look at your reading history, your present reads, and your plans for the future. I also like to reflect on mine, and how it’s evolving.

As I get older, as some of you, I too am realizing my reading time is finite. This Christmas break I’ll re-evaluate my library, and possibly make an escapade to my newly relocated local used book store. I’ll write a narrative post with the books read in 2019.

I’m probably reverting to more reading in Spanish or in translation. I’ve seen a bit of a swift from XIX century English and American authors, to more European authors. Rereading is also happening more often. This year I’m venturing a bit more into contemporary literature, specially upon recommendation. Classics though remain a constant. 🙂

To guide me in what to get in Spanish, I found this list of the 100 best books of all times, according to Norwegian readers. From there, -but not exclusively-, these are some of the titles I’m interested in getting and hopefully reading. If the book is in bold, the interest and intention are very high.

I’ve included the Goodreads rating, -even though some of these titles have very few, and others lots of reviews. I need to add that the scores, -scale of 1 to 5-, though they are not everything that makes me read a book, usually indicate to me which are excellent and solid titles. There’s still those lesser known titles that can end up being very endearing to us, and lovely reads.

  • Los Buddenbrooks, two volumes, Thomas Mann, 1901. Karen read these two books, -or long one, depending on the edition-, and spoke highly of it in her post at Books and Chocolate. She’s the amazing person that hosts the Back to the Classics Challenge.

    I read his other two volume title, The Magic Mountain, in my twenties. I still remember it plot wise, but I need to revisit it to experience his style and the greatness the book had in my eyes. (I hope it doesn’t disappoint. I doubt it).

    Goodreads ratings: between 4.11 – 4.15 on a scale of 5 for different editions.
Thomas Mann
  • Tres tristes tigres, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, 1964. This book intrigues me much. It probably will be a love or hate type of book. It has a 3.96 at Goodreads, but it’s been read and positively reviewed by people I recognize there who read well according to my taste.
  • Libro del desasosiego, Pessoa, 1928 (I already purchased it) A staggering 4.86/5.00 score at Goodreads. Amazing reviews in different languages. This is a must if one wants to read a Portuguese author, but not only, it’s also a must when it comes to XX century literature. I bought it today along with two other books. One can find a lot of books in Spanish online. I’m sure in other languages as well.
  • Tiempo de migrar al norte, (Season of Migration to the North) Tayeb Salih, 1966. This one has a 3.71. It’s from a list of Spanish authors’s recommendations. I’m not that sure, but it doesn’t hurt to have it.
  • El sonido de la montaña, Yasunari Kawabata, 1954. 3.92 score. (This title is translated into English, and available for little). Japanese literature is something I want to read more of. I’ll start with Bellezza’s January Japanese lit challenge. Stay tuned. But I have Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled, so I’ll probably go for that one first. Maybe not, ha ha ha.
  • Hambre, Knut Hamsun, 1890 (this is a short tale). 4.05 Goodreads score. I have read one only other title by this different and intriguing author. This is just a novella I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and probably the title he’s most known by.
  • Crónica del pájaro que da cuerda al mundo. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami, 1994. 4.17 score. This and next are also Japanese author books that have been highly recommended by good readers.

  • Una cuestión personal, Oé Kenzaburo, 1964. 3.88 score. Recommended by the aforementioned Bellezza.

  • Le Grand Meaulnes, Alain-Fournier, 1913. 3.75 score. This one, El gran Meaulnes in Spanish, was recommended by Words And Peace. I believe it’s a short book too.
  • Papá Goriot, Honoré de Balzac, 1835. 3.84 score. Hmmm. I don’t know. I’ve seen many like this title, so I’ll leave it here for reference. It’s just that lately, as much as I’ve loved the XIX century when it came to literature, I’m not feeling it at the moment. I’m looking for something exciting. However, what says I won’t go back to a place where one finds the best writing of all ages, realism and sagas, books that are a good social commentary. If you know me, I’d said before that this is also the most competitive century when it comes to different books in different languages and literary traditions.
  • La soledad de los números primos, de Paolo Giordano, 2008. 3.60 score. (I already purchased it). I love the title, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, and this comes recommended by an author I haven’t read, 🙂 Its author, Paolo Giordano, was born in 1982, and has a PhD in theoretical particles physics. This was his debut novel, and won the Strata Italian Prize. Check his short Wikipedia if you wish. I had to buy it. I paid under $10 for the Spanish translation of this book, friends.
  • En el espacio leemos el tiempo, de Karl Schlögel, 2007. 3.81 Goodreads score. (This book seems to be long and very expensive. I think it’s out of print). I’ll probably give up on getting this one, though it sounds so intriguing. The author who recommended it, lamented that it appeared too scientific or difficult, claiming that it was a truly good read.
  • La ruta de Don Quijote, José Martínez Azorín, 1984. It has just one rating of 4.00, ha ha ha. (I already purchased it). I paid about $3.00 for this book, guys. Specific to me and my love for this classic. They comment how Azorín has a peculiarly ornamented style that some don’t favor, but many love. After one gets used to, it gets smoother. He’s also characterized as a good journalist of the Spanish landscape.
  • La guerra no tiene rostro de mujer (1985) Svetlana Aleksievich. 4.52 score. I’ve heard good things about this author. Intrigued.

  • Possibly the other 6 titles of In Search of Lost Time, by Proust, 1871-1922. I’m currently reading title #1, Swan’s Way, and I’m mesmerized. Probably, in time, my goal is to read the full 7 volumes that compose this series. The ratings vary among the volumes published independently, -which is more common-, and a few publications that contain the 7 volumes. Swan’s Way though, has a 4.14, in the 40K + ratings.

Maybe more titles by Galdós, just because I love Galdós, -even though I also haven’t felt for reading more by him lately-:




If you have any opinions on these books, or have some favorites in Spanish or languages other than English, please don’t forget to share with me. I appreciate it very much.

15 thoughts on “Specific books to get from Madrid, or to buy online when available

  1. Yes. I’m going to sort out all that interest me, and be unapologetic in what I finally do. But I will join you in either Wuthering or Frankenstein.

  2. That’s a good idea! So you’ll just focus on the top two books first then once you finish those move on to other maybes? I know that I have a couple of books already planned which I already mentioned (One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Odyssey, and then whatever I pick to do as read-along(s) on my blog – I’m leaning towards Wuthering Heights or Frankenstein in the fall….we’ll see). And now the Japanese Lit challenge which I think will be great. I need to sit down with my TBR and see if there are any on there that I want to prioritize.

  3. I get you. Something about how we approach those challenges that I too can read, and have read, and completed the books in the list without truly appreciating them. But we can trust ourselves, read more how we should, at the pace we should, and I know we may well end up reading the same or even more.

    I trust that I read classics often, so in retrospect, I can see what can fit where. Also, using the challenges as inspiration works for me.

    I too know that I want to read in company. I invite you to do what I plan to do. I will write all that has caught my attention, consider the length of the books, and go from there with two top books, and the rest as maybes.

    I am already thinking I will leave the Magic Mountain out. But I want to follow Cleo, Ruth for sure, and you as well in one book at least.

    One Hundred Years will happen. The Japanese challenge as you say, is so open to doing what works for us. The good thing is that it could be newer books, to long and short.

    Between the two you mentioned by Ishiguro, I will choose A Pale View… It is short, but I believe it’s a perfect novel and quintessential Japanese in topic, development, ending. It’s just perfect.

  4. I know…..It is hard this time of year when reading challenges come out, etc. I inevitably want to join one! LOL I wrote on my blog recently that I thought I wouldn’t do a challenge at all for next year, not even my own. But now, after looking back this week to see how I did with my own reading challenge and the MMD reading challenge (that I didn’t participate in this year), I actually did a bit better on the MMD challenge (Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge) that I wasn’t even trying to do! Ha! I so much want to read with others and oddly enough, after doing my own thing this year, I do miss out on the community of those doing the MMD reading challenge (I’ve done if for several years). I guess sometimes you just don’t know these things until you try, right?)

    I do know that if I choose to do the MMD challenge this year, I know that it’s likely I will complete a lot of the categories without even focusing on it much. I remember you talking once about seeing these challenges more as guidelines to help instead of something you have to complete. And after having not tried to do that challenge this year but still completing most of it unintentionally, I think I will go ahead with it but view it as reading inspiration and not so much a to-do list. 😉 Anyway, we’ll see….
    I’m working on a post for my blog about it and will hopefully decide by the time I finish writing! LOL

    I do know one thing for sure, I really want to focus on reading with others in read-alongs this year. I have enjoyed the ones I have participated in so much (your Don Quixote and Cleo’s House of Mirth). So that is my focus….along with whatever else I want to read of course! LOL

    I just saw your post on Japanese literature. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. But I will here soon hopefully. I’ve not read much Japanese lit. so this is something I am very interested in. I really would like to read more from writers in different countries.

  5. Your description of TMM sounds enticing. : )

    I do love read alongs, too. Read alongs aid in the conversation authors want their readers to share with one another.

  6. And I believe we don’t need to do it all of course, hahaha. If you read 100 years of solitude with us, that’s A LOT

  7. Oh definitely come read the posts and comment for The Odyssey read-along!

    Your description of The Magic Mountain helps much more! Thank you! I’ll have to think on that one….

    I am looking forward to reading together this year!

  8. Excellent. We will read together for sure. I did finish The Odyssey, but even if I don’t read it again I may read the posts and comments.

    I won’t read Great Expectations again, but the other three shorter ones, probably yes!

    The Magic Mountain is a coming of age book about what it means to be alive, a book about sickness and death, the rich and the poor, love and lack of freedom to love, and its characters are unforgettable, their conversations and interaction very interesting. It’s character driven, but it has a plot that moves along too. 25 years and I remember much of it, situations, conversations, and details. That must count for something, right? It was made a TV series, but I didn’t watch it, I didn’t know about it until it was gone.

  9. “which is any who joins at the moment among those who read my blog and whom I also follow-, to do some reads together. I always gain so much when I read with thoughtful and intelligent readers.”

    Yes, Silvia, I also gain so much when I read along with other thoughtful readers. Even if I don’t care for a particular book, the experience of reading it with others can give more insight into the novel and may even help me appreciate it more. I know we’ve talked about that before. 🙂

    I really would like to do more reading together with others this year in that read-along format. I am getting ready to order a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude so I can read that along with you in 2020. I don’t know about The Magic Mountain. I’ve never heard of it before and so just now read a description of it. Hmm…..I don’t know that it really gives me a good feel for what this book might be like. Can you elaborate on that a bit more?

    I am also thinking of joining up with Cleo for her read-along of The Odyssey since I never finished reading it when I started it a few years ago….

    I was thinking of potentially hosting one or two read-alongs on my blog in 2020 as well. Some titles I’m considering are Great Expectations by Dickens (my favorite Dickens I’ve read) and/or Dracula, Frankenstein, or Wuthering Heights in the Fall maybe. I’m still thinking on it. 🙂

  10. Maybe 2020 is the year of The Magic Mountain! Thanks for stopping by no matter what. I don’t want to be overtly ambitious, -we have 100 Years, and I most likely will lead read along of DQ part II for whoever wants to participate at the time or later. I also am slowly committing to seriously good but quite longish titles, so I don’t want to overdo it and fail, but I’d love to have someone willing to comment The Magic Mountain if I decide to read it in 2020. We’ll see. I’m going to do this one step at a time. But I seriously need YOU, and the ‘group’ -which is any who joins at the moment among those who read my blog and whom I also follow-, to do some reads together. I always gain so much when I read with thoughtful and intelligent readers.

  11. Thanks Kaggsy. Pessoa has to happen for me soon. I’ve always had him at the back of my mind, but lately he’s come to the forefront. I’ve read amazing reviews, and something tells me this will be something I’ll obsess about. I’ve been talking about a reread of The Magic Mountain for 3 years now. I need to come clean. Am I reading Mann in 2020, or not? LOL.

  12. Thanks, Bellezza.

    Like you, if I lose momentum, I don’t finish the book. Specially if it’s a long one. That was the case the first time with Moby Dick, and with The Pillow Book? I’m going to look at anything and everything Japanese I owe, and see if it still inspires me to read it, and if not, I’ll get a couple of titles, because I do truly love Japanese literature. 

    I’m going to enjoy taking some pics and writing the post about it.

  13. I loved perusing your list of titles and thinking of you getting them all the way from Spain! I loved Buddenbrooks, which I read several years ago for German Lit Month. I began The Magic Mountain, but never finished it…there’s something about if I don’t follow through straightaway, but lay it down for any small amount of time, I probably won’t finish the book. I should never have laid down Moby Dick, because I loved it, but I lost the impetus. Anyway, 2020 is a new year. I am with you on loving classics, and translated literature, and I so look forward to discussing what we read together. Xoxo

  14. I’m sorry I cannot help. I don’t know any of these books, authors, or Spanish. But The Magic Mountain keeps coming up again and again (for me)! It must be a sign. Anyway, how exciting for you!

  15. I absolutely loved The Magic Mountain, so I really ought to get on to reading more of Mann’s books (it’s not as if I don’t own any more….) And I want to get on to Pessoa as well – I keep stalling with him. So many books I want to read. Good luck with your plans! 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s