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I posted about the Spanish novel The Shadow of the Wind several months ago and ordered it, and now I'm starting to read it. I must say, I feel an instant connection right from page one. Partly it's the Catalán place names and descriptions of old buildings that hark me back to my time in Catalonia. Partly it's that it starts out in 1940s Barcelona, the scene of another novel I greatly enjoyed in a lit class several years ago. But really it's the writing. I don't want to get my hopes up too much after only 20 pages, but it looks like it's going to be one of my better reading experiences.

So far it's about books--sort of. Not just the pages and the plots but the lives of books, imbued in them not only by the authors but also by everyone who has read them. The souls of books, as Shadow puts it. We find the protagonist starting out at age 10 taken by his father to visit the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which is not where a book ends up buried forever but where it is kept safe until another reader will come along and add his bit to its soul. A library, if you will, whose librarians have a higher calling.

Enough said. Read it, dammit.

I think I'm going to get it in Spanish. I've held off reading another novel in Spanish since my lit classes because it's a lot of work looking up all the words. Literature has a much wider vocabulary than conversation and I like to read later in the evening when the last thing I want is to be going back and forth in and out of the dictionary.

But there's something about well-written Spanish that's just so yummy, for lack of a more sophisticated way of putting it.

I looked at the sample of the Spanish version on Amazon and it's not difficult--just the usual unknown words. Some are words I remember looking up various times for past novels but which I no longer remember and some are new. I think that reading the Spanish a page or two at a time followed by the English to fill in the blanks and make sure I really got it without having to get all academic with the dictionary, is a good strategy, ensuring I get the full context of unknown words beyond the dictionary definition. And not terribly tiring after a long day of carefully orchestrated indolence.

So I'm halting my reading at page 20 and waiting until the Spanish version shows up. It's going to be a long week.

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