Book Club Guide—The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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What book club doesn’t love a good book about reading? Its focus on book has to be one of the reasons for the continuing appeal of The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. First published in 2001, it’s one of those novels that never goes out of style. It has history, intrigue, murder, and heroes and villains. And it has books—a fictional Cemetery of Forgotten Books waiting to be rediscovered and resurrected. Treat your book club to a night in old Spain by offering an array of tapas by candlelight. Use the following topics to guide your discussion. (Click here to read The Snail’s article on The Shadow of the Wind.)


What did this book teach you about reading? Have you ever experienced the sort of devotion to a book or an author that Daniel develops?

Why does Julián Carax want to destroy his own books?

Over the course of its 500-plus pages, Zafón’s novel covers a range of emotions, from fear to sadness to amusement. What emotions did you experience while reading it? What was your predominant emotion while reading it?

This story has many parallels to other stories throughout time, from folk tales to horror stories to novels. What stories or characters did it make you think of, and why?

Villainy and intrigue:

What motivates the villain in this novel, Francisco Javier Fumero? Why is he obsessed with Carax and, in turn, Daniel?

The schoolboys who befriended each other at San Gabriel’s School all end up leading tragic lives or coming to devastating ends. None has a satisfying, successful adulthood. Are they cursed in some way, or what seems to be the source of their troubles? Could any of them have somehow escaped their fates?

Does the novel’s depiction of politics and political intrigue seem to be realistic?

The city of Barcelona comes to life almost like a character in this novel. How does the setting of The Shadow of the Wind help drive the plot?

What is the significance of the pen that Daniel begs his father to purchase for him?

Relationships, love, and friendship:

Describe the relations between fathers and sons in the novel.

The bonds between mothers and sons are problematic or nonexistent in The Shadow of the Wind. Why is that?

Daniel and Fermín develop an unlikely friendship over the course of the novel. What is the reason for their connection?

Compare Daniel’s relationship with Clara and his relationship with Bea. What draws him to each one?

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