I’ve been reading Historias de Mexico (Stories from Mexico) for a while now. It’s split up into 16 short stories, with Spanish on one side and the English translation on the other. It’s the perfect set-up for learning, as you can read as much as possible in Spanish before checking your understanding.
The stories themselves are also really funny. They’re traditional legends, so there’s a lot of Gods and Goddesses, talking animals, and magic. I’m certainly learning some interesting vocab – I can say ‘dwarf’ and ‘witch’ and even ‘torture’, but not how to get my tenses right, or ask someone for help.
I was speaking to a friend recently in Spanish (She’s much, much better than me!) and she mentioned someone’s boyfriend. Novio. I jumped up, recognising the word. “Sweetheart!” I cried, triumphant. Well, yes, she said. Or just ‘boyfriend’ if you’re living in 2014. I’d read a story from the book a few nights before about two young people who are nicknamed los novios – sweethearts. In the story, after they die (nothing if not cheery), a God turns them into volcanoes so they can be together forever.
There’s some other highlights; another princess is lying on the beach when a group of soldiers walks by. She sees the most handsome one, promptly falls in love, and then faints. They don’t waste time in Mexico.
It’s also really interesting to see how these legends compare to other myths from around the world. There’s one which is basically the story behind Chinese New Year, and another which is a form of Sleeping Beauty.
If anyone is trying to learn Spanish, or any other language, try and find some bilingual stories to read. The shorter and weirder, the better.