The most recommended books about Buenos Aires

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to Buenos Aires, and here are their favorite Buenos Aires books.
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What type of Buenos Aires book?

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Book cover of The Dangers of Smoking in Bed

Tabish Khair Author Of Namaste Trump And Other Stories

From Tabish's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Father Writer Journalist Academic Gourmet, with a preference for good red wines.

Tabish's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Tabish Khair Why did Tabish love this book?

I came to the book almost a year late, which is astonishing, as I am a great fan of Enriquez’s short fiction. The short stories in this collection met my expectations, combining gothic (or, shall we say, neo-gothic) elements with a vivid ramble through Buenos Aires, where the stories are based.

Enriquez is a master of the arts of the short story, and the hearts of human beings. These unsettling narratives of witchcraft, revenge, disappearances, and madness seem to be so far from our ordinary middle-class existence, and yet, they tell you more about our lives than the usual fiction of jam on bread. 

By Mariana Enriquez, Megan McDowell (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dangers of Smoking in Bed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE

'Beautiful, horrible... the most exciting discovery I've made in fiction for some time' Kazuo Ishiguro
'Smoky, carnal, dazzling' Lauren Groff

Welcome to Buenos Aires, a place of nightmares and twisted imaginings, where missing children come back from the dead and unearthed bones carry terrible curses.

Thrumming with murderous intentions, family betrayals and morbid desires, these stories shine a light on a violent city gripped by urban madness; giving voice to the lost, the oppressed and the forgotten. Lucid and darkly poetic, unsettling and otherworldly, these tales of revenge, witchcraft and fetishes are a masterpiece…


Book cover of Tschiffely's Ride: Ten Thousand Miles in the Saddle from Southern Cross to Pole Star

Christina Dodwell Author Of Madagascar Travels

From my list on chosen by a long-term traveller and explorer.

Who am I?

If I needed an excuse to be an explorer, I’d say it was inherited wanderlust. My grandparents moved to China in the 1920s and my grandmother became an unconventional traveller by mule in the wilds. My mother spent her childhood there. And much of her married life in West Africa, where I was born and raised. The wildest places fill me with curiosity.

Christina's book list on chosen by a long-term traveller and explorer

Christina Dodwell Why did Christina love this book?

It’s an extraordinary journey, people said it was absurd and impossible. I read it as a teenager, and even then it struck a chord with me. And it showed that what people call impossible is merely a sign of challenge. It also shows what deep reserves of stamina we all have in us, only found if we dig deep enough. It stayed with me as an inspiration, and as a dream of adventure

By Aimé Tschiffely,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tschiffely's Ride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the southeast coast of South America through an expanse of Peruvian sands en route to the West Coast, then onward through Central American jungles and rainforest, and finally to New York, Tschiffely’s journey was considered impossible and absurd by many newspaper writers in 1925. However, after two and a half years on horseback with two of his trusty and tough steeds, this daring trekker lived to tell his best-selling tale.

Tschiffely’s 10,000-mile journey was filled with adventure and triumph, but it also forced the traveler to deal with tremendous natural and man-made obstacles, as many countries in Central America…


Book cover of Uttermost Part of the Earth

Nicholas Coghlan Author Of Winter in Fireland: A Patagonian Sailing Adventure

From my list on sailing in Patagonia.

Who am I?

My first experience of sailing was in an open dinghy in the North Sea in winter; the second was capsizing in the path of a hovercraft at Cowes. I was put off for years. But once Jenny and I moved to spectacular British Columbia, we were inspired to try again. In 1985 we left on what would become a 4-year circumnavigation of the world; more recently and over several years we made our way back under sail from Cape Town to BC, spending a year in Patagonian waters. My other (paying) career has been as a diplomat, which is everything long-distance-sailing is not: people, rules, compromises, convention. Over the years, things have more-or-less balanced out.

Nicholas' book list on sailing in Patagonia

Nicholas Coghlan Why did Nicholas love this book?

As a young teacher in Buenos Aires, two of my students were the Goodall sisters, direct descendants of Anglican missionary and pioneer Thomas Bridges, who settled on the north shore of the Beagle Channel in 1886. Thomas’s second son Lucas’s account of life at Harberton Estancia – which truly was at the edge of the world at that time – is a luminous but saddening account of the last days of the Ona, Selknam, and Yahgan peoples. It’s full of sailing adventures too. As we threaded our way through snow-lined Acwalisnan Channel – between the Beagle and the Straits of Magellan – we leafed to page 113 of our sepia-illustrated 1949 edition of the book. We read how Lucas became the first European to pass this way, with his Yahgan friend Acwalisnan as pilot. I’m hoping to catch up with Abigail Goodall, whom I last saw in 1981, this (southern)…

By E. Lucas Bridges,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Uttermost Part of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"E. Lucas Bridges provides in his brilliantly written book our most valuable resource on the lost heritage of the Yamana." The Daily Beagle

Famous for being the southernmost city in the world, the wild and windswept port of Ushuaia sits at the inhospitable southern tip of Tierra del Fuego in South America. That rugged, rocky landscape of sharp mountains, beech forests, and barren outcrops was originally home to hunter-gatherer Yaghan Indians, the southernmost indigenous people on the planet. The western world’s colonization of the area (sometimes called “Fireland”) began in the 1800s when explorers and missionaries established settlements. The Bridges…


Book cover of The Tunnel

F.E. Beyer Author Of Buenos Aires Triad

From my list on crime novels set in Argentina.

Who am I?

At twenty-six I was living in Wuhan. I had been in China for a couple of years and was looking for a change. Not ready to go back home to New Zealand, I made my way across Europe, through the USA, and on to Argentina. Since that visit, I’ve followed Argentina's economic crises and scoured its newspapers for quirky crime stories. I started to send out true crime articles to various magazines. Eventually, I had enough material to write a novel. For years I’ve wanted to find a literary yet straightforward crime novel set in Argentina. The search goes on, but below are the best I’ve come across so far.

F.E.'s book list on crime novels set in Argentina

F.E. Beyer Why did F.E. love this book?

The painter Castel meets Maria, the only person in the world capable of understanding him and his art. They start a relationship, but he becomes obsessive and wants her to live for him only. Castel describes his mind as a dark labyrinth in which occasional flashes of lightning illuminate dark corridors. The increasingly paranoid painter murders Maria and the novel takes the form of his prison-cell confession. Unable to understand why he committed the crime; he is at a loss how to justify himself. Sabato’s tortured protagonist is up there with Camus’ Meursault and Dostoevsky’s Underground Man. Femicide is a huge problem in Latin America, and Sabato was praised for being able to recreate the mind of a monster. However, I found Castel somewhat sympathetic.

By Ernesto Sabato, Margaret Sayers Peden (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tunnel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the great short novels of the twentieth century—in an edition marking the 100th anniversary of the author's birth.

An unforgettable psychological novel of obsessive love, The Tunnel was championed by Albert Camus, Thomas Mann, and Graham Greene upon its publication in 1948 and went on to become an international bestseller. At its center is an artist named Juan Pablo Castel, who recounts from his prison cell his murder of a woman named María Iribarne. Obsessed from the moment he sees her examining one of his paintings, Castel fantasizes for months about how they might meet again. When he…


Book cover of Labyrinths

Eric Schwitzgebel Author Of The Weirdness of the World

From my list on blow your mind about the weirdness of the world.

Who am I?

What I love about philosophy (I’ve been a philosophy professor at the University of California, Riverside, since 1997) is not its ability to deliver the one correct answer to the nature of the world and how to live but rather its power to open our mind to new possibilities that we hadn’t previously considered; its power to blow apart our presuppositions, our culturally given “common sense” understandings, and our habitual patterns of thinking, casting us into doubt and wonder. The science writing, fiction, and personal essays I love best have that same power.

Eric's book list on blow your mind about the weirdness of the world

Eric Schwitzgebel Why did Eric love this book?

Maybe the weirdest and most beautiful collection of stories in my house full of books.

In “The Circular Ruins,” a man dreams up another man, only to realize that he, too, is a dream. “The Library of Babel” imagines a world containing every possible book, most of which are nonsense but some of which, if only you could find them, contain the most profound truths ever written. “Funes the Memorious” imagines a boy paralyzed by a perfect memory, one that retains every single detail of every event ever experienced.

Every sentence of these stories is bizarre and fascinating, with a richness that leaves me understanding them differently with every re-read.

By Jorge Luis Borges,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Labyrinths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking trans-genre work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) has been insinuating itself into the structure, stance, and very breath of world literature for well over half a century. Multi-layered, self-referential, elusive, and allusive writing is now frequently labeled Borgesian. Umberto Eco's international bestseller, The Name of the Rose, is, on one level, an elaborate improvisation on Borges' fiction "The Library," which American readers first encountered in the original 1962 New Directions publication of Labyrinths.

This new edition of Labyrinths, the classic representative selection of Borges' writing edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby (in translations…


Book cover of Money to Burn

F.E. Beyer Author Of Buenos Aires Triad

From my list on crime novels set in Argentina.

Who am I?

At twenty-six I was living in Wuhan. I had been in China for a couple of years and was looking for a change. Not ready to go back home to New Zealand, I made my way across Europe, through the USA, and on to Argentina. Since that visit, I’ve followed Argentina's economic crises and scoured its newspapers for quirky crime stories. I started to send out true crime articles to various magazines. Eventually, I had enough material to write a novel. For years I’ve wanted to find a literary yet straightforward crime novel set in Argentina. The search goes on, but below are the best I’ve come across so far.

F.E.'s book list on crime novels set in Argentina

F.E. Beyer Why did F.E. love this book?

More about hiding out and the lead-up to the final shoot-out than the bank robbery at the start, this novel is based on a real case from the 1960s. After they rob a bank in the Province of Buenos Aires, Dorda and Brigone, escape with the money over the Rio de la Plata. They find a bolthole in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, a country much like Argentina culturally and historically, but with fewer hysterical tendencies. Not happy about this are the politicians and police officers involved in the robbery and anxious for their cut of the loot. Piglia does a good job of recreating Argentina in the 1960s. Despite some stylistic pretensions and his overwriting of the main characters, the author manages not to get in the way of the story.

By Ricardo Piglia, Amanda Hopkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Money to Burn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on original reports and witness statements, Money to Burn tells the story of a gang of bandits who, fancying themselves as urban guerillas, raided a bank in downtown Buenos Aires. They escaped with millions of dollars in cash but six weeks later found their hideout surrounded by three hundred military police, journalists and TV cameras. The subsequent siege and its shocking outcome have become a Latin American legend.


Book cover of Who Is Vera Kelly?

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Exile

From Ursula's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Rabid researcher History hound Intrepid traveler Cycling fanatic

Ursula's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

Who is Vera Kelly isn’t your typical 1960s Cold War spy novel.

Although Vera’s sexuality is unresolved and she’s had a rocky road to adulthood, the CIA recruits her. She goes to work as an undercover agent in Buenos Aires. Her day job is to infiltrate a campus Marxist group with ties to the KGB. At night, she transcribes wiretaps taken from the presidential palace. When her handler goes dark, Vera is caught in the middle of a coup.

Who is Vera Kelly takes us into the mindset of lovely Vera. She’s fresh, funny, quirky, and comes off as a (relatively) regular gal, albeit one who is scrambling to stay alive in South America.

By Rosalie Knecht,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Is Vera Kelly? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She's working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA.

Next thing she knows she's in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams. When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of…


Book cover of Far Away and Long Ago: A History of My Early Life

Conor Mark Jameson Author Of Finding W. H. Hudson: The Writer Who Came to Britain to Save the Birds

From my list on W. H. Hudson, in his own words.

Who am I?

I am now a full-time author, and I worked for 25 years for the RSPB at Sandy and BirdLife in Cambridge. An oil painting of W. H. Hudson hangs above the fireplace of the house at Sandy – so he was a familiar face, like an ancestor about whom little is recalled and surprisingly little is ever said. I began to dabble in his books and got drawn in. I wanted to understand him and his female colleagues who created the organisation we know today and that has been such a big part of my life. I have a sense of repaying a debt.

Conor's book list on W. H. Hudson, in his own words

Conor Mark Jameson Why did Conor love this book?

In November 1915 Hudson was in the care of nurses in a Cornish convent hospital, much burdened by news from the Western Front. ‘Shall I live to see peace on earth again?’ he asked Don Roberto Cunninghame Graham in a letter.

"To me nothing is left but memories, and I’m here putting some of my boyhood’s days in a book which will have a certain interest because it gives a sort of picture of the country and people before it began to be civilised."

He was writing a memoir. A combination of Don Roberto’s missives, fevered dreams, and possibly medication sparked Hudson’s visions of his Pampas childhood. He asked his nurses for paper and pencils and began to scribble what would become his acclaimed memoir, Far Away and Long Ago. Virginia Woolf said she greeted the book "like an old friend". It remains a classic of its genre.

By W H Hudson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Far Away and Long Ago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

”One of the twentieth century’s greatest memoirs.”
—Smithsonian Magazine

“You may try for ever to learn how Hudson got his effects and you will never know. He writes down his words as the good God makes the green grass grow.”
—Joseph Conrad

“As a writer he was a magician.”
—Ford Madox Ford

Far Away and Long Ago is a moving memoir of a vanished world, written by legendary naturalist and writer W. H. Hudson. Lyrical and poignant, Hudson’s reminiscences take us on a journey back in time to the lush and untamed landscape of his childhood in the Argentine pampas.…


Book cover of Hopscotch

David Flusfeder Author Of Luck: A Personal Account of Fortune, Chance and Risk in Thirteen Investigations

From my list on luck: winning, losing, and seeing opportunity.

Who am I?

My father, when he consented to talk about all the moments in his life when the odds against his survival were so small as to make them statistically non-existent, would say, ‘I was lucky.’ Trying to understand what he meant got me started on this book. As well as being a novelist, I’m a poker player. Luck is a subject that every poker player has a relationship to; more importantly it’s a subject that every person has a relationship to. The combination of family history and intellectual curiosity and the gambler’s desire to win drove me on this quest.

David's book list on luck: winning, losing, and seeing opportunity

David Flusfeder Why did David love this book?

Argentinians in 1950s Paris argue about art and philosophy. They fall in and out of love to a jazz soundtrack. The novel itself is in love with the modern city and the secret patterns of chance. Prefacing it is a ‘table of instructions’ in which the author writes that "this book consists of many books, but two books above all. The first can be read in a normal fashion and it ends with Chapter 56... The second should be read by beginning with Chapter 73 and then following the sequence indicated at the end of each chapter."

There’s an exhilaration of structure, a deadpan formal playfulness that still thrills. It’s the book that taught me the most about reading. And, not entirely coincidentally, it’s the book that made me realise I was going to become a writer.

By Julio Cortazar, Gregory Rabassa (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hopscotch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Cortazar's masterpiece ... The first great novel of Spanish America" (The Times Literary Supplement) • Winner of the National Book Award for Translation in 1967, translated by Gregory Rabassa

Horacio Oliveira is an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves "the Club." A child's death and La Maga's disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompt Oliveira to return to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can…


Book cover of Optic Nerve

Christine Lai Author Of Landscapes

From my list on art and the ways of seeing.

Who am I?

In Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino writes that “we can distinguish between two types of imaginative processes, one that begins with words and ends with the visual image, and another that begins with the visual image and ends with its verbal expression.” All of my writing projects begin with the visual image. It is difficult for me to verbalize what precisely about art that captivates me. But when I stand in front of certain artworks, I feel a magnetic pull, and something in the piece—the brushstrokes, the colors, the materiality—compels me to write something in response to it.

Christine's book list on art and the ways of seeing

Christine Lai Why did Christine love this book?

A brilliant blend of narrative and non-fiction, Optic Nerve follows the narrator, an art critic, as she frequents art galleries in Buenos Aires and reflects on the artworks, which act as prisms that refract her own memories and experiences.

This is a book that moves forward by dint of impressions and ekphrastic encounters, eschewing a conventional plot. It explores the interconnections between image and text by incorporating art criticism into the fictional space. 

By Maria Gainza, Thomas Bunstead (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Optic Nerve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A highly original, piercingly beautiful work, full of beautiful shocks... I felt like a door had been kicked open in my brain' Johanna Thomas-Corr, Observer

A woman searches Buenos Aires for the paintings that are her inspiration and her refuge. Her life -- she is a young mother with a complicated family -- is sometimes overwhelming. But among the canvases, often little-known works in quiet rooms, she finds clarity and a sense of who she is . . .

'I was reminded of John Berger's Ways of Seeing, enfolded in tender and exuberant personal narratives'
Claire-Louise Bennett

'This woman-guide, who…