Welcome book lovers to our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge group read of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This is my all-time favorite book and I’m so excited that the reading challenge participants wanted to read this for March. Want to join us? Read chapters 1-28 and then come back and answer the questions in the comments or in our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge Goodreads group.
About Shadow of the Wind
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
WARNING: THIS DISCUSSION WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. If you haven’t read chapters 1 through 28 and don’t want spoilers, please come back to discuss when you are done with those sections! Just like our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge, our readalong is no pressure. Read at your pace and come by and answer the discussion questions at your leisure. We want to hear from you!
Ok you’ve been warned, here we go…
We meet Daniel Sempere, the son of a modest bookstore owner. Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to choose a book that he swears to protect. Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. He’s hooked by the book and goes on a quest to find Carax’s other novels only to find that someone is stealing and burning all of Carax’s novels. This part covers Daniel’s life from a young boy though his teens. He’s introduced to various mysterious characters who seem to have something to hide, we aren’t quite sure who’s telling him the truth and who’s sending him on a wild goose chase. It wouldn’t be about a teenage boy if there wasn’t come love interest. Daniel is capitvated by angelic and enigmatic Carla and confused about his feelings towards his best friend’s sister Bea, who terrifies him but he kinda likes her.
1. Does Daniel choose The Shadow of the Wind or does the book choose him?
2. One of my favorite quotes is “…few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany is throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later – no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget – we will return.” What was the first book that left it’s deep mark on you? What books have you re-read?
3. Why do you think Daniel is so determined to find out what happened to enigmatic author Julian Carax? What motivates and drives him to continue when he encounters so many stumbling blocks?
4. What does Fermin Romero de Torres add or take away to the story and Daniel’s quest for the truth? Is he an asset or complicating Daniel’s mission?
5. How do you think Daniel and Julian are similar? How are they different?
6. The theme of magical realism comes to life with the Lain Coubert character. Is he real or a figment of Daniel’s imagination? Is he the Devil? Does that make Daniel the Christ-like figure?
7. Good vs. evil is also a prominent theme. Fermin vs. Fumero. Daniel vs. Lain. Will good prevail when the “evil” characters are so strong and intimidating? What other symbolism have you found in this book?
8. With the exception of Bernarda, most of the women Daniel encounters are mysterious and not what they seem. Clara, Bea, Nuria, Daniel’s mother, Penelope. How do they impact his quest and the man he’s turning into?
9. Who are your favorite characters?
8. What are your favorite quotes?
9. Another of my favorite quotes is “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” What did The Shadow of the Wind show Daniel about himself? What have you learned about yourself from reading this book? What books have you read that showed you something about yourself?
10. What have you learned about Spain in their post-Civil War? Barcelona? Ever been to Spain? Does this book make you want to visit?
11. This book is originally written in Spanish and translated into English by Lucia Graves. What did you think of the translation? Did she do the book justice? What other translated books have you read?
12. What other questions would you like to discuss and ask of other participants? Please share them so we can continue the discussion!
I’ve thrown a lot of questions at you. Answer all or some or ask what you’d like to know so we can enjoy discussing this fantastic book! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!