When it comes to literature in English, I’m admittedly a snob. To improve my Spanish, I’ve had to rethink my standards.
When the Harry Potter craze started several years ago, I listened to the critics who said it was shallow writing, the fast food of literature, meant only for short term commercial success. Besides, I had already read the Lord of the Rings series several times when I was young, and didn’t imagine those could be improved on.
So, when I started learning Spanish, the first thing I went for was the high brow stuff. Cortázar, Borges and Unamano. I loved these, and would still recommend them to anyone, especially the short stories of Cortázar. They were especially great reading.
But then I started wanting to listen to more audiobooks as a way of improving my Spanish listening skills. I wanted to be able to work on my listening abilities at the gym, in my car, or while cleaning up around the house. In other words, without a dictionary in my lap. And it needed to be entertaining to hold my interest while I was doing other things.
While living in Argentina, I’d caught bits and pieces of the Harry Potter movies on television. And thought they’d maybe be at the appropriate level, and focused enough on entertainment for my needs. It took me some time to track down the audio books. As far as I can tell, the usual places – iTunes, Audible, etc. don’t carry the Harry Potter audio books.
Eventually I found one that may or may not have been pirated, and was apparently read by amateurs (you could hear the pages turning, and occasionally a background noise would disrupt the recording. But overall, the sound quality was great, and it was just what I needed.
The Potter series is truly addictive, and as it contains several really long books, it provided me with literally months of daily listening in Spanish. I enjoyed it all so much, that I’m now on my second round of listening to them.
I would say that in my last 6 months of listening to the Potter series, my Spanish listening skills have improved greatly. At the same time I’ve learned lots of words that may or may not be useful in daily conversation, such as hechizo (spell), varita (wand), and caldero (cauldron). But I’ve also learned things that are very useful, such as reporting words like chillar (scream), cuchichear (whisper), farfullar (babble or sputter) and mascullar (mumble).
More importantly, it helped my ability to not get hung up on every word, but to relax, let words I didn’t know float by, and follow the thread of the story.
Check out the clip below for a taste:
If you’re searching for Spanish audio books, you may check here, although I’m really not sure if these are legal downloads, and you’ll always want to be sure of what your downloading before you click…
All in all, I’d highly recommend the Potter series for improving your Spanish.