The AP Spanish Literature Reading List [Plus Themes]

It’s important that you are well-informed as to what your students need to read and the rules regarding their AP Spanish Literature studies.

The most important rule, according to AP central, is that the “study of the AP Spanish Literature and Culture curriculum requires that only unabridged, full text, Spanish language versions of the required readings be used.”

Keep reading to find out key information about the AP Spanish literature reading list with possible themes to explore and other helpful resources.


AP Spanish Literature Reading List

1.“Dos palabras” by Isabel Allende

Summary: In a humble Latin American village, “Dos palabras” by Isabel Allende beautifully captures the enduring bond between Belisa Crepusculario and a Colonel’s wife, as Belisa’s remarkable gift for crafting words brings about a positive transformation in their lives.

Possible themes:

  • Male chauvinism
  • The fight for power between the two sexes
  • Winning and losing in the “game of love”
  • Passion between men and women

2. “Romance de la pérdida de Alhama” by Anónimo (Anonymous author)

Summary: Romance de la pérdida de Alhama” is a traditional Spanish ballad that mourns the fall of the city of Alhama to the Catholic Monarchs in the late 15th century, blending themes of loss, nostalgia and the inevitable passage of time. The poem laments the once-glorious Moorish city’s demise and serves as a testament to the historical and cultural shifts during the Reconquista in Spain.

Possible themes:

  • Social and political criticisms
  • Romance in poetry

3.“Lazarillo de Tormes” by Anónimo (Anonymous author)

The sections that are fair game for the exam are the prologue (prólogo) and sections (tratados) 1, 2, 3 and 7.

Summary: Lazarillo de Tormes” is a picaresque novel from 16th century Spain, anonymously authored, narrated by Lazarillo, a cunning and resourceful young boy who recounts his experiences as a servant to various masters, providing a satirical commentary on society, class and human nature in Renaissance Spain.

Possible themes:

  • Perseverance
  • The tenacity of individuals
  • Obstacles in life
  • Honor and dishonor
  • Social and political criticism

4. “Volverán las oscuras golondrinas” (Rima LIII) by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer 

Summary: Volverán las oscuras golondrinas” (Rima LIII) by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer is a melancholic Spanish poem that expresses the poet’s longing and acceptance of lost love, using vivid imagery of swallows and the changing seasons to evoke a sense of inevitable change and the enduring pain of heartbreak.

Possible themes:

  • Carpe diem 
  • Time and change
  • Passion between men and women

5. “Borges y yo” by Jorge Luis Borges

Summary:Borges y yo” by Jorge Luis Borges is a reflective essay in which the author contemplates the duality of his public and private personas, exploring the relationship between his literary identity and his personal self, ultimately revealing the complexity of human existence and the interplay between the writer and the individual.

Possible themes:

  • Most of Borges’s tales embrace universal themes
  • The often recurring circular labyrinth can be seen as a metaphor of life.

6. El Sur” by Jorge Luis Borges

Summary: El Sur” by Jorge Luis Borges is a timeless short story that delves into the life of Juan Dahlmann, a gentle librarian whose world takes a thrilling turn after he recovers from a grave illness, propelling him on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery.

Possible themes:

  • The fine line between what is real and what isn’t
  • The different facets of being

7. “A Julia de Burgos” by Julia de Burgos

Summary: A Julia de Burgos” by Julia de Burgos is a deeply personal poem where the poet celebrates her own journey towards freedom, self-discovery, and embracing her true self, painting a vivid picture of a woman determined to break free from societal expectations and find her authentic identity.

Possible themes:

  • Self-identity
  • Personal oppression and that of others

8. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes

Focus on: Primera parte, capítulos 1-5, 8 y 9; Segunda parte, capítulo 74

Summary: This masterwork by Miguel de Cervantes follows the adventures of Alonso Quixano, who, after becoming obsessed with chivalric tales, assumes the identity of the knight-errant Don Quixote. Alongside his loyal squire Sancho Panza, they embark on a series of comical and often delusional adventures, offering a satirical commentary on the ideals and realities of 17th century Spain.

Possible themes:

  • Truth and justice
  • Reality and fantasy

9. “La noche boca arriba” by Julio Cortázar

You could teach this story in conjunction with “El Sur.”

Summary:La noche boca arriba” by Julio Cortázar is a short story that blurs the boundaries between dreams and reality, following a motorcyclist who experiences a surreal journey oscillating between an ancient Aztec ritual and a modern hospital after a traffic accident, exploring themes of identity, time and the human psyche.

Possible themes:

  • The fine line between what is real and what isn’t
  • The different facets of being

10. “Segunda carta de relación” by Hernán Cortés

Summary: Segunda carta de relación” by Hernán Cortés is the second letter written by the Spanish conquistador to Charles V, providing a detailed account of his expedition to Mexico, his encounters with the Aztec civilization, and the conquest of Tenochtitlán, offering insights into the cultural clash and events that shaped the early interactions between Europe and the Americas.

Possible themes:

  • Imperialism
  • The conquest of Mexico

11.“Hombres necios que acusáis” by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Summary: Hombres necios que acusáis” by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is a powerful poem that confronts the double standards and unjust criticism faced by women in society, challenging the hypocrisy of men who blame women for their own shortcomings and desires, while advocating for women’s intellectual and emotional autonomy.

Possible themes:

  • Feminism
  • Men as accusers

12. “A Roosevelt” by Rubén Darío

Summary: In “A Roosevelt,” Rubén Darío talks straight to Theodore Roosevelt, giving him props for his zest and drive. At the same time, he raises a flag about the possible fallout of American imperialism. It’s like a heartfelt plea about the real-world effects of power.

Possible themes:

  • Societies interacting and clashing
  • Modernity and the past
  • Time and space
  • The duality of being
  • Literary creation

13. “De lo que aconteció a un mozo que casó con una mujer muy fuerte y muy brava” (Conde Lucanor, Exemplo XXXV) by Don Juan Manuel 

This is one short story within the greater collection.

Summary: “De lo que aconteció a un mozo que casó con una mujer muy fuerte y muy brava” (Conde Lucanor, Exemplo XXXV) by Don Juan Manuel is a medieval tale that tells of a young man who marries a strong-willed and fierce woman, and through cleverness and wisdom, he learns to navigate their relationship and ultimately gains her respect and love, imparting a valuable lesson on the importance of understanding and respecting one’s partner in marriage.

Possible themes:

  • Perseverance
  • Sexism
  • Struggle for power between the sexes
  • Passion between men and women

14. “El hombre que se convirtió en perro” by Osvaldo Dragún

Summary: “El hombre que se convirtió en perro” by Osvaldo Dragún is a thought-provoking play that explores themes of dehumanization and societal pressures as it follows the story of a man who, in desperation, takes on the role of a dog to secure a job, ultimately reflecting on the degrading effects of a dehumanizing work environment.

Possible themes:

  • Negative impact of militant government
  • Transformation

15. “Chac Mool” by Carlos Fuentes

Summary: “Chac Mool” by Carlos Fuentes is a short story that delves into the supernatural and the clash of ancient beliefs with modern reality. It tells the tale of Filiberto, who acquires a statue of the Mayan god Chac Mool, and experiences a series of eerie events as the statue seemingly comes to life, blurring the lines between mythology and everyday life.

Possible themes:

  • Lack of control in society
  • The fine line between reality and fantasy.

16.“La casa de Bernarda Alba” by Federico García Lorca

Summary: “La casa de Bernarda Alba” by Federico García Lorca is a gripping play that takes us into the lives of Bernarda Alba and her five daughters. It’s a powerful exploration of how societal pressures, expectations and a domineering mother can profoundly impact individual lives. The story ultimately unfolds in a tragic and heart-wrenching way, revealing the harsh realities of living under oppressive social norms.

Possible themes:

  • Being one’s own worst enemy
  • The transition from honor to death
  • The role of religion
  • The idea that the poor are “like animals”

17. “Prendimiento de Antoñito el Camborio en el camino de Sevilla” by Federico García Lorca

Summary: “Prendimiento de Antoñito el Camborio en el camino de Sevilla” by Federico García Lorca is a vivid poem that recounts the dramatic capture of Antoñito el Camborio, a young and brave gypsy, on the road to Seville. Through evocative language and imagery, Lorca captures the intensity and tragedy of the event, highlighting the complexities of fate and the human condition.

Possible themes:

  • Honor
  • Tenacity of the individual

18. “El ahogado más hermoso del mundo” by Gabriel García Márquez

Summary: “El ahogado más hermoso del mundo” by Gabriel García Márquez is a captivating short story that tells of a small coastal village’s discovery of a deceased stranger, whose extraordinary appearance and mysterious aura profoundly impact the villagers, prompting them to reevaluate their own lives and perceptions of beauty. Through García Márquez’s lyrical prose, the tale beautifully explores themes of perception, beauty and the transformative power of imagination.

Possible themes:

  • The idea of community
  • Myth
  • The definition of “man”

19.“La siesta del martes” by Gabriel García Márquez

Summary: “La siesta del martes” by Gabriel García Márquez is a poignant short story that follows a mother and daughter’s visit to a small town cemetery on a hot Tuesday afternoon, seeking the grave of their deceased son and brother. 

Possible themes:

  • Relationships between men and women
  • Religion

20.Soneto XXIII,”En tanto que de rosa y azucena” by Garcilaso de la Vega

Summary: “Soneto XXIII,” also known as “En tanto que de rosa y azucena,” by Garcilaso de la Vega, is a beautiful sonnet that celebrates the fleeting nature of youth and beauty, drawing a comparison between the delicate rose and the pure lily. The poem speaks to the inevitability of time’s passage and the importance of seizing the present moment.

Possible themes:

  • Carpe diem
  • The effects of time

21.Soneto CLXVI, “Mientras por competir con tu cabello” by Luis de Góngora 

You can do an activity comparing this poem with that of Garcilaso de la Vega.

Summary: “Soneto CLXVI,” also known as “Mientras por competir con tu cabello” by Luis de Góngora, is a sonnet that intricately weaves together themes of love, beauty and the passage of time. It uses rich and elaborate language to express the poet’s admiration for his beloved’s hair, drawing parallels between its radiant qualities and celestial phenomena. The poem ultimately reflects on the transient nature of earthly beauty compared to enduring heavenly splendor.

Possible themes:

  • Carpe diem
  • Time and beauty

22.“Balada de los dos abuelos” by Nicolás Guillén

Summary: “Balada de los dos abuelos” by Nicolás Guillén is a poignant poem that contrasts the lives and experiences of the poet’s two grandfathers: one African and one Spanish. Through vivid imagery and rhythm, Guillén explores the complexities of identity, heritage and the legacy of colonialism, ultimately celebrating the rich cultural tapestry that makes up his own background. The poem serves as a powerful reflection on the interconnectedness of diverse histories and the importance of recognizing and honoring one’s roots.

Possible themes:

  • The integration of races, specifically those of the people who were relocated to America during colonization.

23. “En una tempestad” by José María Heredia

Summary: “En una tempestad” by José María Heredia is a poem that vividly paints the picture of a fierce thunderstorm, using nature’s power to mirror the struggles of marginalized individuals. It’s a passionate reminder that even in the face of challenges, there’s potential for growth and change. The poem resonates as a call to stand strong and a tribute to the unyielding spirit of those who face adversity head-on.

Possible themes:

  • Distance and absence
  • Missing home

24.“Visión de los vencidos” by Miguel León-Portilla

There are two sections to focus on in this text: “Los presagios, según los informantes de Sahagún” and “Se ha perdido el pueblo mexico.”

Summary: “Visión de los vencidos” by Miguel León-Portilla is a powerful work that compiles and analyzes the perspectives of the defeated indigenous peoples of Mexico following the Spanish conquest. Through their own accounts and oral traditions, León-Portilla provides a valuable insight into the experiences, culture, and worldviews of the native populations during this critical period in history, shedding light on the complex dynamics of colonization and its lasting impact on indigenous communities.

Possible themes:

  • Suffering
  • Death
  • Self-defense
  • Hunger

25.“He andado muchos caminos” by Antonio Machado

Summary: “He andado muchos caminos” by Antonio Machado is a profound poem that reflects on the diverse paths and experiences that shape a person’s life. Machado contemplates the choices and encounters that have defined his journey, ultimately emphasizing the importance of seeking one’s own truth and forging a meaningful path in life. The poem resonates as a poignant reflection on personal growth, self-discovery and the richness of human experience.

Possible themes:

  • The differences between the rich and the poor.

26.“Nuestra América” by José Martí

Summary: “Nuestra América” by José Martí is a foundational essay that advocates for the unity and independence of Latin American nations. Martí argues against both U.S. expansionism and European colonialism, emphasizing the need for Latin American countries to come together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The essay serves as a rallying cry for a united, self-determined Latin America, and remains a key text in the history of Latin American thought and nationalism.

Possible themes:

  • The author’s opinions of American policies
  • Diversity in society
  • Opinions relating to authority figures

27. “Como la vida misma” by Rosa Montero 

Summary: “Como la vida misma” by Rosa Montero is a collection of essays that dive into the very essence of life. With a blend of wit and empathy, Montero explores love, aging, literature, and the human experience in a way that feels incredibly relatable. It’s like having a heart-to-heart conversation about the ups and downs of everyday life with a wise and insightful friend.

Possible themes:

  • The impact of urbanization on human relationships

28.“Mujer negra” by Nancy Morejón

Summary: “Mujer negra” by Nancy Morejón is a heartfelt poem that beautifully celebrates the incredible strength, resilience, and beauty of black women. With vivid imagery and touching language, Morejón pays tribute to the significant contributions and rich cultural heritage of black women, while also acknowledging the challenges they’ve endured. It’s a moving reminder of the vital importance of recognizing and appreciating the experiences of black women in our society.

Possible themes:

  • Historical themes
  • Feminism

29. “Walking around” by Pablo Neruda 

Summary: “Walking around” by Pablo Neruda is a heartfelt poem that reflects on the challenges of modern life, exploring feelings of disconnection and the quest for deeper meaning amidst the hustle and bustle of daily routines. Through vivid imagery, Neruda captures the universal struggle to find genuine connection in a fast-paced world.

Possible themes:

  • Life and death
  • Emotions and reflection

30. “Las medias rojas” by Emilia Pardo Bazán

Summary: “Las medias rojas” by Emilia Pardo Bazán tells the story of Ildara, a young girl in rural Spain, who dreams of a brighter future but faces resistance from her traditional family. The tale beautifully captures the struggles of a girl yearning for independence and self-fulfillment in a restrictive society.

Possible themes:

  • The harsh reality of human life on a day-to-day basis.

31. Salmo XVII (“Miré los muros de la patria mía”) by Francisco de Quevedo

Summary: “Salmo XVII” by Francisco de Quevedo is a sonnet that contemplates the transient nature of human achievements and the inevitable passage of time. The poem reflects on the ruins of ancient Rome as a metaphor for the impermanence of worldly glory and serves as a meditation on mortality and the enduring power of art and literature.

Possible themes:

  • The constant reminders of death present in daily life.
  • Religion

32.“El hijo” by Horacio Quiroga

Summary: “El hijo” by Horacio Quiroga is a touching short story that delves into the heartache of a father coping with the loss of his son. Through evocative storytelling, Quiroga explores themes of grief, acceptance, and the enduring love between parents and children. The narrative offers a poignant reflection on the profound impact of tragedy within a family.

Possible themes:

  • Lack of order and control in society
  • The fine line between what is real and what isn’t

33.“…y no se lo tragó la tierra” by Tomás Rivera

There are two main chapters to work with in this text: “…y no se lo tragó la tierra” and “La noche buena.”

Summary: “…y no se lo tragó la tierra” by Tomás Rivera paints a vivid picture of the hardships endured by Mexican-American migrant workers in the U.S. Through interconnected stories, Rivera reveals the challenges, discrimination, and difficult living conditions they face. It’s a heartfelt exploration of their strength and determination in the face of adversity.

Possible themes:

  • Lack of faith in religion
  • Social change

34.“No oyes ladrar los perros” by Juan Rulfo

Summary: “No oyes ladrar los perros” by Juan Rulfo is a poignant short story about a father carrying his injured son through the challenging Mexican landscape. Despite their strained relationship, the father’s love and determination to find help shine through. Rulfo beautifully captures the complexities of family bonds in times of crisis, offering a powerful reflection on human resilience and sacrifice.

Possible themes:

  • Escapism
  • Poverty

35.“Peso ancestral” by Alfonsina Storni

Summary: “Peso ancestral” by Alfonsina Storni is a touching poem that delves into the burdens placed on women by society, highlighting the struggle for self-discovery amidst traditional expectations. Storni’s verses beautifully express the desire for liberation and personal growth. It’s a heartfelt reflection on the enduring strength of women.

Possible themes:

  • Feminism
  • Stereotypes about men and women

36.“El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra” by Tirso de Molina

Summary: “El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra” by Tirso de Molina is a timeless Spanish play featuring the notorious Don Juan Tenorio, known for his seductive and deceitful ways with women. The play delves into themes of morality, justice, and the eventual supernatural retribution faced by Don Juan. Tirso de Molina’s work laid the groundwork for the enduring legend of Don Juan in literature.

Possible themes:

  • Free will and destiny
  • Friendship
  • Corruption
  • Order and disorder

37. “Mi caballo mago” by Sabine Ulibarrí

Summary: “Mi caballo mago” by Sabine Ulibarrí is a touching tale of a young boy’s profound bond with his cherished horse in the Southwest. It beautifully illustrates their enduring friendship amidst life’s challenges. Ulibarrí’s story is a heartfelt portrayal of childhood, friendship and the journey to adulthood.

Possible themes:

  • Coming of age
  • Time and space

38.“San Manuel Bueno, Mártir” by Miguel de Unamuno

Summary: “San Manuel Bueno, Mártir” by Miguel de Unamuno is a touching novella that introduces us to Don Manuel, a cherished village priest dealing with a crisis of faith. The story prompts us to think about the nature of our beliefs and the inner struggles we all go through when our convictions don’t align with what’s expected. It’s a deep dive into the very human journey of grappling with life’s profound questions.

Possible themes:

  • Compassion
  • Conflicting beliefs

Textbooks Designed for AP Spanish Literature Classes

If you are struggling to decide which texts to use in class, a great place to turn is to one of the many textbooks designed for AP Spanish Literature students. These books contain a variety of the books from the list already and therefore you can choose based on what is included in the text.

39.“Abriendo Puertas”

This textbook is ideal for AP Spanish Literature students as it contains a number of works on the reading list designed for the class.

40. “Azulejo”

This textbook emphasizes analyses and themes of some of the literature required for AP Spanish Literature class.

41. “Advanced Placement Spanish Literatura

Another option containing some of the readings for AP Literature class.

Where to Find the Reading List Texts

Buying all of the books on the list would be more expensive than a solid gold bowl of caviar. Okay, slight exaggeration. However, it would certainly add up, but thankfully there are digital libraries where many of the works are available for access.

One site to peruse to find many of the books is the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.

If that option doesn’t meet all of your needs, check out the Biblioteca Virtual Universal or Bibliotecas Virtuales.


Yes, the AP Spanish literature reading list can seem daunting, but hopefully after reading this post, you feel better prepared to face it head on with your students.

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