The Best 6 Books by Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda was a Chilean Nobel Prize winner, politician, and poet who started writing at the age of 13. He wrote in a variety of styles including historical epics, surrealist poems, prose autobiography, and passionate love poems that made him famous
One of his greatest books was 20 poemas de amor y una canción desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair), which he wrote in 1924.
He won the honorable Nobel Prize in 1971 and became one of the best writers in Latin America.
Pablo Neruda occupied several diplomatic positions in different countries and served as a Senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When Communism ended in Chile, there was even a warrant for Pablo Neruda’s arrest but he hid.
Neruda is considered the national poet of Chile and his work continues to be as popular and influential as ever. Gabriel García Márquez called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century” and Harold Bloom considered him one of the most important writers in the Western world.
Benefits of Reading in Spanish
Before we get into the list, I wanted to share some of the benefits of reading in Spanish when you’re learning the language.
Reading is one of the best ways to immerse yourself not only in the language but the culture itself. You get to contextualize the vocabulary and apply the grammar that you’ve learned in the classroom. Instead of forcing yourself to learn new words, when you read, you get to observe how to use the grammar precisely. Reading in Spanish allows you to subconsciously retain phrases and words in a fast and easy way.
Reading in Spanish is an accessible practice that anyone can use. From beginner level to advanced, you can find the right book for you. You can also read as much as you’d like or whenever you have some free time.
Another great reason to read in the language you’re learning is that it will help you understand idioms that you might not find in a Spanish classroom. It’s an ideal way to learn practical Spanish and expand your knowledge.
6 Books by Pablo Neruda
I’ve compiled a list of the best books by Pablo Neruda to improve your Spanish but also to enjoy his depth and passion. Pablo Neruda’s poems are what he’s best known for and many of these books are about poems.
He has always been one of my favorite poets of all time. Most of the books on the list are for Intermediate to Advanced level students. Read on to find out why so many love Pablo Neruda’s work.
1. The Book of Questions (Libro de las preguntas)
This is a 74 poem collection that consists entirely of questions. This book is ideal to practice Spanish because it makes you wonder about your own answers.
Pablo Neruda’s poems in this book evoke images that make sense visually for the reader before fully understanding what he literally means. Many of Pablo Neruda’s works seem hard to understand but as a bilingual person I can say it’s more about using your imagination.
He wrote this book during his final months before he died and you can see he didn’t hold back. He still had some questions when he wrote it but the book makes you wonder if we should know all the answers or if it’s best not to know.
Pablo Neruda’s depiction of life and death is cynical but he writes it in an inquisitive and playful manner as he faces his mortality. Neruda was an ironic and shrewd poet even until the day he died.
2. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada)
This is Pablo Neruda’s most famous collection of poems. It was first published when Neruda was just 19 years old in 1924. Because he was so young, it was a bit scandalous but it eventually became some of his best and most respected work.
By the 1960s, he had already sold more than 2 million copies. In this passionate book, Neruda uses descriptive adjectives for more advanced Spanish learners. If you’re looking to practice how to write letters, this book is a great inspiration.
But the book also has a touch of mystery and makes you wonder. Pablo Neruda was a master at leaving his reader wanting and wondering more. These deeply romantic poems are illustrated by Jan Thompson Dicks and the book is both in Spanish and English. If you’re an advanced student, try to focus on just the Spanish but if you’re an intermediate level, the English is a great tool to lean on.
3. I Explain a Few Things: Selected Poems (Explico algunas cosas)
Because Neruda led such a colorful life and became a master at writing poetry about love, lust, romance and the human experience, he compiled this book where he explains his writings in depth. Some consider Pablo Neruda the Walt Whitman in Spanish because of his talent through verse and Neruda has an enthusiastic and enchanted style that made him one of a kind.
Unlike many of his Latin American peers, Neruda always remained clear in what his passion was: writing. Even though he also had a prominent career in politics, writing was the love of his life. He seemed to have an endless well of inspiration and in this book we get to know the fascinating author in depth. This is an advanced book but anyone can read it and see how much of it you understand. Pablo Neruda led a fascinating life that is worth reading.
4. All the Odes (Las odas elementales)
Among Pablo Neruda’s many writings, Las Odas Elementales were 225 odes that were written in short lines, using democratic vocabulary, and exalted emotion. Most of these odes were written in the 1950s and what makes this collection ideal for Spanish learners is that some of the odes are dedicated to household objects such as a potato or a lemon.
This book is perfect for students from an intermediate to an advanced level and easy enough to understand. All of Pablo Neruda’s work is a bit complex but interesting to read. Some of the odes include vegetables, an elephant, New Year’s Day, and unexpected topics that show Neruda’s romantic and communist sides. This is an educational book that shows Pablo Neruda’s effusive mind. The volume is full of literary delights that will expand your Spanish vocabulary.
5. The Captain’s Verses (Los versos del capitán)
In Pablo Neruda’s Los Versos del Capitán, published in 1952, Pablo Neruda writes to his beloved wife Matilde Urrutia. Pablo Neruda wrote a lot of his love poems for her and this book was one of them.
This book is all about love, devotion and commitment. In his deep poems of love, you could experience romance through Neruda’s eyes. His devotion is deep and we all long to feel that kind of love at least once in our lives.
This is a great option to practice speaking about emotions and how to let someone know how you feel. In this book, you can experience Neruda’s writing at its beginning and you can see how much raw talent he had.
The level is more advanced and I’d recommend trying to write a poem in Spanish when you’re done reading it because it’s great practice and inspiration to write to someone you love.
6. Love Poems (Poemas de amor)
Love poems were Pablo Neruda’s specialty. The Neruda poems collected in this book are a collection of Pablo’s best love poems. In this book you can see why so many people consider Pablo Neruda to be the best love poet of the century. Few writers can describe in such an intimate and deep form what the love experience is truly like.
In these poems, Neruda is accessible and relatable because he writes about love, his favorite language. I truly believe Neruda is as popular as he is because everyone loves love.
This edition includes his most raw love poems as well as his famous Twenty Love Poems: And a Song of Despair (Veinte Poemas De Amor y Una Canción Desesperada) as an added bonus. It’s his masterpiece and just some of all the wonderful work Pablo Neruda left in this world.
Pablo Neruda Quotes
Here are some Pablo Neruda quotes for you to enjoy!
“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”
“Laughter is the language of the soul.”
“Absence is a house so vast that inside you will pass through its walls and hang pictures in the air.”
“Death is the stone into which our oblivion hardens.”
“Give me your hand out of the depths sown by your sorrows.”
“Do tears not yet spilled wait in small lakes?”
If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.”
“I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”
“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”
“Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because—because—I don’t know how to say it: a day is long and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.”
What’s Your Favorite Book in Spanish?
Reading any of these splendid Pablo Neruda books will inspire you to fall deeply in love or look at life in a different way. Spanish is one of the most expressive and romantic languages in the world.
There’s nothing better than learning a second language to explore different cultures from ours and become a part of a new world. Spanish continues to be one of the most popular languages to learn. In the U.S. alone, there are approximately 53 million people who speak Spanish. The United States is the second-largest Spanish speaking country in the world. According to CNN, there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US who speak Spanish in their homes.
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