Argentina, A Reading List for travellers

Bookshop in Buenos Aires
Bookshop Buenos Aires

One of my most favorite writers and all around people comes from Argentina: Jorge Borges – if I could choose 5 people past or present to invite to the dinner of my choice, he’d be one of the few people on my list.  If you’ve not read any of his work, anything you read will suffice, from  The Aleph and Other Stories (Penguin Classics), to his selected works, and his short stories and poetry – it’s just so truly spellbinding.  All his thoughts are layered and profound and at times there is a depth so deep you wonder how and why you couldn’t see it before – in fact I can read one story one day, and read it again the next in a meditative state of mind and read a whole range of ideas and provocative metaphysical thoughts that I hadn’t even noted the day before. He has an inquisitive mind and an open full heart, and in reading his words on or about the areas of Buenos Aires that he lived it just adds a richness of colors the streets that you’ll now never quite see again in the same light.  His short stories are imaginative, and his honesty after losing his sight is laid bare – if you’d seen the eloquence in the tango or the courage and dexterity in a top polo players horse, it is this grace, courage, and beauty that Jorge Borges manages to bring to his writing.  A truly fascinating person, a truly fascinating read whether you are in, planning to go to Argentina, or interested in top literature, his books are highly recommended.

The Tango Singer
Martin Eloy Martinez
This book captures and brings to life the rawness of energy that is Buenos Aires that is sometimes also emanated by the dancing and music of the tango itself. There is that heaviness that borders on a dramatic, overly emotional at times heavy, always serious yet incredibly mesmerizing dance between two dancers, whether they are strangers or lovers. And this book, wow, leaves you a little breathless for the city, for the dance, for the music, and for life. At the end I couldn’t believe it was a story, it was so real, it must’ve been based on truth – it was ooooh so captivating, and so well written in all came to life in my imagination where it almost becomes a most besetting reality. I love the way Mr. Martinez writes, in awe of his writing I took on the alias of Martinez in Argentina to avoid the spelling of my long and an impossible Dutch name. And whether a lover of tango or planning a trip to Buenos Aires, this book is a must.  Buy book on Amazon here: The Tango Singer

Fernado FieroAnd if you are interested in some of the magical music that haunts and captures the streets of Buenos aires, I’ve written about that here, the band is Fernando Fierro, who you can find here.

Santa Evita
Martin Eloy Martinez
While this was written in fiction rather than being a biographical account, and by an Argentine living abroad, which perhaps grants him a little more creative license than if still living in Argentina, I found this book a compelling and intriguing read. There are a few books on Evita that I’ve read, and like Che, you either like her or you don’t and of course real information (in that much information on her past is sketchy at best, changed or deleted by the grand lady herself) is a little hard to come by. This book for those that are interested in learning more about that period in history, which in a way shapes much of what is modern Argentina – and hence a great read.
Buy book on Amazon here: Santa Evita

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
Is a character that is either loved or loathed, and as I had a Che bag for which I was getting some flack while in Argentina, I thought it best to read one of the biggest, thorough biographies on the man, which is also one of the many books that are written in an ‘attempted’ unbiased fashion. Although I think the author after so much investigation can’t help but be a little in awe of a man which such high believes and who managed so much despite his asthma in a difficult time in history. The book is heavy, so I suggest reading it while in Argentina for awhile or before you go – it’s heavy in weight and a little drawn out in and around some of the wars (yes, I know it’s fact and part of the history, but as a girl my interest wasn’t there). I did find it an amazing book though and well worth reading, there are insights around the events that were all new to me, and not spoken about in the history books of the world at large. And well to me, just to me, despite whatever he did I deeply admire Che, he fought for his beliefs, took action where others dare not tread and really gave his life to a higher ideal – and in wishing for a better world for all. He saw what the American placed dictators were doing to Latin America, and took steps to create change on a larger level. I disagree in the way he perhaps went about it, or how events turned out in Cuba

Gaucho Fever
Gaucho Fever

eventually. However, I find that people that are so well read, passionate and willing to stand up for what they believe, who dare to have an opinion or even to change it is rare, and hence for me he remains a poetic hero, fighting for justice in a rather unjust and corrupt world. Believing like many of us, that positive change is possible. And hence rather than bin my Che bag, I kept it and dealt with the flack – we all see versions of events based on whatever information and fashion that clouds our perception of that, none of us were there. I wore the bag, for the man behind the events; the intellectual, sensitive, caring poet that wanted equality and freedom for everyone, who fought relentlessly and died following those ideals. For anyone who wants to get to know the man behind the story, greatly recommended.
Buy book on amazon here. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

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