Recommendations for World Book Night

Posted on: 17 April 2024 by Alice Lodge in 2024 posts

A book in the foreground is visible, with flowers and tea

Reading is just one of the ways to enhance your language learning, so this World Book Night, why not celebrate by starting a book in your target language? For those learning Spanish, Mexican author Laura Esquivel’s Como agua para chocolate is the perfect piece of literature to do so.

I was first introduced to this novel in the module LATI203, a module that shows how literature can be a powerful tool to learn more about the world around us.

Forming part of the boom femenino literary movement, Como agua para chocolate was written during the 1980s, a time of great change in Mexico, which included significant change for women. For me, this novel is a celebration of femininity, as I would argue that it humanises women in a way that previous literature failed to do so. In the context of the Mexican Revolution, the story follows the life of a family of women, with a particular focus on the feelings and experiences of the protagonist, Tita, the youngest daughter who is bound by tradition to care for her mother and never marry.

The books Como Agua Para Chocolate in English and Spanish

These are English and Spanish versions of the novel, both are available to borrow from the Sydney Jones Library

Themes of passion and lust, as well as repression and tradition are evident throughout the book in characters such as Tita herself, Tita’s sisters, Rosaura and Gertrudis, and Tita’s mother, Mama Elena. Whilst the context of the Mexican Revolution mainly serves as a backdrop throughout the novel, it also serves as a reminder that traditional roles for women were beginning to change slightly, which is most notably seen in the character of Gertrudis. Food is also an important theme throughout the novel, with each chapter marked by a different recipe. More specifically, Esquivel’s use of magical realism in the depiction of food is essential in the reader’s understanding of Tita’s emotions and makes for a unique and captivating read.

Overall, Esquivel’s dramatic and emotive writing will immerse you in a story centred around the lives of women during the Mexican Revolution, not only aiding your Spanish language skills, but also giving you the chance to learn about this part of Mexican history through the characters’ emotions. Copies of the book are available in the Sydney Jones Library in both Spanish and English.

Happy reading!