Week 1 La Ciudad de las Bestias


Book Club Links :books:

Natively page
Spanish fiction bookclub
Homepage La Ciudad de las Bestias
Collaborative google sheets

Chapter Start date Title End page Pgs in Ch. Wk #
1 18 Mar La pesadilla 20 12 1

Discussion Guidelines

  • Spoilers should always be hidden using spoiler blur.
  • When discussing a specific section, please mention where you are in the book so people reading different versions have a clear point of reference.
  • Feel free to read ahead if it’s exciting, but please refrain from spoiling ahead of the appropriate week.
  • If you have a question about grammar, vocab, cultural things, etc - ask! That’s a welcome part of the discussion too, and other readers will be happy to help.
  • Even if you don’t read the chapter(s) in time, you are still encouraged to post your thoughts.
  • The google sheets is here to help you with vocab, grammar and anything else you might need. Feel free to add to it!

Are you joining us for week 1?

  • I’m reading along
  • I’m reading along, but at my own pace
  • I’m just here for the discussion :popcorn:
0 voters

Excited to be starting finally!


I’ll be listening along and seeing how much I can glean from it and the discussion. I’ll try reading as well but mostly will be listening. :slightly_smiling_face:


I managed to listen to the chapter and understood a few bits here and there as well as recognised a fair number of words from before even if I wasn’t sure of their meanings. I’m try reading some of it today and see what I get from it.


I got started yesterday with the paperback and the audiobook. I got to the first break point a couple pages in.

This is exactly as difficult as I thought it’d be! :joy: It’s a cooouple notches above my level, but with copious look ups it seems to be manageable. Here’s to hoping for some noticeable improvement by the end of the book. XD 5 minutes of the audiobook took a good hour to work through properly. (Not sure, but >45mins.) Definitely need to space the chapters out over the week.

I also happen to own a German version! I’m pretty sure my mom gave that to me ages ago. I don’t think I’ve ever read it though… I quickly went through the same part to check my understanding and was pretty happy with most of it.

There was one sentence I understood differently even with look ups, maybe someone can help me with it. It’s on the first page with text.


Calculó que a pocas cuadras de su casa el océano pacífico rugía, desbordándose en olas furiosas contra la cornisa.

I thought this was meant metaphorically: he expected/imagined? that few blocks away from his house the Pacific Ocean was roaring, overflowing in furious waves against the ledges of the buildings.

The German version translates cornisa as “Klippen”, ‘cliffs’. Is this another possible meaning for la cornisa? It also sounds a bit less metaphorical to me. Can someone tell me whether Alex actually lives super close to the ocean? :joy:


And then there were 2 instances of ‘new’ sentences in the German version. Does anyone also have these in their edition or is this just a very liberal translation?



My edition has the same sentences as your Spanish one. It’s weird that a translation would add sentences like this.

Question: answer

I wouldn’t translate it as building or cliff either. I visualized something like this, with him living quite close to the sea. But I guess technically all three translations kinda make sense.


La cornisa Cantábrica is this:

PS: Not reading the book, but taking a peek at the discussion as a Native :sweat_smile:


Finished the first chapter! I listened to it in audio book form first, without following along with the text, just to see how well I did comprehending it.

I caught a fair amount of details, though I wasn’t able to perfectly follow it. One of the funniest moments was I missed the description of the dog getting sprayed by a skunk (because I didn’t know those words), but figured out that must be what had happened because I understood the part about bathing in tomato juice afterward.

I’d say that this book is harder than the first few books that I read in Spanish, so don’t get too discouraged if it’s hard! I had to look up a bunch of words myself.

In total, it took me about 50 minutes to read this chapter (after listening through it all the way once), which was two 25-minute reading sessions for me. Would have taken substantially longer if I wasn’t reading on kindle and couldn’t get instant lookups.

A comment (not a question) on a line near the end of the chapter:

Nuestra familia está pasando por una crisis. ¿Sabes cuáles son los caracteres chinos para escribir crisis? Peligro + oportunidad.

I don’t know Chinese, but it holds true for the word “crisis” in Japanese as well!

“Crisis” is 危機きき, which is 危 (danger) + 機 (opportunity, though the kanji also has other meanings).


Thanks. I’ll not put too much stock into the translation then… :sweat_smile: Translated works are scary sometimes. I wonder why they chose to do it like this…? It’s still fine for double checking I guess.

And thanks for the pictures and article, to @Megumin as well. La cornisa is just the name of that ledge-like walkway/ edge of the land hanging out into the ocean there then, hope I got that right. I suppose it is a bit cliff like. :thinking:

I’m still chipping away, up to the second break point on (my) page 15. So sad. :cry:


Pretty much it.

The fancy dictionary definition:

  1. f. Faja horizontal estrecha que corre al borde de un precipicio o acantilado.

Not sure if any learners use it, but you have the official spanish dictionary available at Real Academia Española . The problem is the definitions sometimes get explained in a too fancy way :sweat_smile:


I tend to look up anything I need to there first. Sometimes it’s great, and I love the comments on ethymology and stuff like that, but other times those definitions really are just extremely convoluted ways of explaining something that should be super simple.


I finished the chapter today!

Most of the time it’s a lot more piecing together than reading, but sometimes there’s sentences I don’t need to look up anything to understand. Those feel pretty good. :slight_smile: It took me 4 days to finish the chapter. That’s not bad! Leaves some time to maybe listen to the chapter again, start early on the next one, or just some low energy off days.

I enjoyed the characterization and family dynamics shown so far. I really felt for everyone by the end of the chapter. :')


Late starting, it’s been a busy week. Really enjoyed chapter one. The writing is really high quality as you’d expect from Allende, and I found it surprising and funny.

The meltdown scene - this was so sad. You could see the stress they were all struggling with, and to see all the emotion and anger pouring out of him. It’s a great introduction to Alex, and looking forward to meeting Kate!


I’m starting a bit late, so I’m in catch up mode for the moment. Same as @Belerith, this is probably a good 10 levels above mine in vocabulary alone. :sweat_smile: But the grammar has not been, so with a ridiculous number of lookups and pausing the audiobook literally every sentence, I’m making progress! :muscle: And I feel like I understand a good 95% of what I’m reading as well, which is super nice. I paused about 12 minutes into the audiobook, right after a big paragraph break after Alex trashes his room.

I haven’t been explicitly timing myself, but it’s probably taken me about an hour for those 12 minutes so far. Real curious what my time will be like at the end of the book.

Quite interesting start to the story so far, with Alex’s mom so deathly ill. It’s also interesting starting with characters with such English names; it feels a bit like cheating? Hahaha. Too many Japanese with names I can’t read without furigana. @.@


Okay, and I’ve finished the first chapter! I was closer than I thought to finishing last night; I should’ve just stuck it out and pushed through. Looking forward to meeting Kate now; I wonder what she’s like…