When you don’t have enough time or money to fly, the greatest way to learn about a new nation is to read about it! Here are the 40 best books on Spain, whether you’re planning a vacation to the country or simply enjoy reading about it. In addition, I’ve divided them into categories so you may simply identify a novel set in Spain in your favorite genre! Novels, books on life in Spain, historical fiction, books about Spanish history, and some of the best Spain travel guides will all be discussed. Some of the books on the list will be older classics, while others may be new releases. Hopefully, this list has piqued your interest in visiting Spain or learning more about the nation before you go! Regardless, I believe you’ll be able to find a book on this list for just about any type of reader.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
One of Ernest Hemingway’s most well-known novels, For Whom the Bell Tolls, was published in 1940. During the Spanish Civil War, a young man named Robert Jordan volunteers to be a dynamiter. He battles alongside the Spanish Republic against Francisco Franco’s Fascist army. Hemingway used his expertise as a journalist during the war to make the story as realistic as possible. Hemingway communicates a vital lesson to the reader by following Robert Jordan on a mission to demolish a bridge: war is cruel and affects everyone. This book may be a nice place to start if you don’t know much about the Spanish Civil War.
Don Quixote by Cervantes
“Don Quixote was born for me alone, and I for him.” His was the power of action, mine was the power of words.”
You’ve probably heard of Don Quixote, but have you ever considered reading it? You might wish to think about it because it is the most famous piece of literature and “the first modern book.” Don Quixote is a middle-aged nobleman from La Mancha who is influenced by stories about valiant knights. As a result, he chooses to depart on his own quest, accompanied by his devoted squire, Sancho. On his quest for honor, Don Quixote utilizes his imagination to get himself involved in things he shouldn’t in a comic fashion. Sancho tries to be a guiding force for his owner, pointing him in the right direction.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
“Moving from one place to another won’t get you away from yourself.”
Another of Hemingway’s classic novels set in Spain is The Sun Also Rises, which also happens to be his debut novel. Hemingway presents a story about the post-WWI generation, including their struggles and exploits as expats in Europe, inspired by a journey to Spain in 1925 (before to his experiences in the Spanish Civil War). The protagonists are a group of Americans and Brits living in Paris who decide to travel to Pamplona to watch the bulls run. Surprisingly, the characters are based on real-life members of Hemingway’s “Lost Generation.”
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving
“Perhaps no monument has ever been more representative of a time and people than the Alhambra; a harsh fortress on the outside, a sensuous palace on the inside; war frowning from its battlements; poetry breathing through the fairy architecture of its halls.”
Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra is a compilation of stories that combines history and legend. Irving requested permission to see the Alhambra Palace after being immediately captivated to the lovely city of Granada. The author was allowed to dwell at the then-abandoned Alhambra in 1829 since he was a celebrity at the time. The success of this book piqued Western audiences’ interest in visiting the Alhambra. As a result, Irving is largely to blame for the romantic image of Al-Andalus that we have today (Muslim Spain).
All This I Will Give to You by Dolores Redondo
If you enjoy mysteries, you’ll want to get your hands on the international bestseller All This I Will Give to You. Manuel Ortigosa travels to Galicia after his husband is killed in a vehicle accident in order to learn more about the guy he loved. Manuel may not have known lvaro as well as he thought–and to find out the truth, he’ll have to cross paths with one of Spain’s most powerful families.
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
“I told the waiter I was looking for a hotel with a name I didn’t recognize on a street with a name I didn’t recognize and asked if he could assist me; we both chuckled, and he added, “Aren’t we all?”
Leaving the Atocha Station follows Adam Gordon, a young American poet, as he begins a fellowship in Madrid. Despite the fact that he claims the purpose of this fellowship is to create a poem about the Spanish Civil War, he instead spends his time lying to others. He also fights with self-assurance in his poetry and frequently displays a dread of deception. This novel is only 181 pages long, so it’s a quick read! It will also provide some insight into the experience of learning Spanish in Madrid.
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
Laurie Lee recalls his coming-of-age experience in Spain from 1934 to 1936 in this book. He planned to take a boat to northern Spain when he was nineteen years old and walk around the Western side of the country. Lee met numerous small settlements on his journey that appeared to be unaffected by contemporary times. The people in these communities were usually poor, yet they were always friendly to Lee as he traveled through. Because of the period of Lee’s travels in Spain, he witnessed the country on the verge of civil war. He learns new leftist political ideals while figuring out who he is. Lee is encouraged to get part in the battle after meeting Republican friends who were looking for a better life.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Many people consider Homage to Catalonia to be one of the best works about the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was dispatched to Spain as a journalist to cover the war, but he was so moved by what he witnessed that he decided to join the fight against the Fascists. He describes his wartime experiences in the trenches along the Aragon front in this book. Apart from serving as a biography, Orwell also strives to provide the reader with a basic history of the warring parties: the Anarchists, Communists, and Fascists.
Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture
Goulding takes readers on a tour through Spain’s culinary landscape using a clever combination of travel, food, and cultural knowledge. If you’re planning a trip to Spain, this book is a great place to start. Even if you don’t, Grape, Olive, Pig will make you want to book a flight to Barcelona right away! Goulding is a devoted foodie, thus this book will appeal to everyone who enjoys reading about food, even if they don’t generally read about it.
Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past by Giles Tremlett
Giles Tremlett is a British journalist who has spent decades in Madrid. As a result, when mass graves were discovered years after the Spanish Civil War, Tremlett decided to embark on a trip to unravel Spain’s “silent past.” People often avoid discussing the period of Franco’s fascism in Spain because it is so divisive. Tremlett takes readers on a journey through modern Spain, including Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, and Galicia, to gain a true understanding of the country. This book is an excellent introduction to the Spanish regions and their history. Tremlett offers a distinct perspective as a writer who excels at presenting Spanish culture to non-Spanish speakers.
South from Granada: A Sojourn in Southern Spain by Gerald Brenan
Brenan spent a significant portion of his life in Spain, which shows in the imagery he creates for his readers. Brenan reflects on his time living in a distant Spanish village between 1920 and 1934 in South from Granada: A Sojourn in Southern Spain. In his new isolated abode, he wanted to immerse himself in local life and live frugally while working on his writing. He also relates stories of his journeys to Granada and other parts of Spain, demonstrating a genuine love for the nation.
Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stewart
The perfect light read is Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain. You’ll follow Chris Stewart as he decides to buy a sheep farm in southern Spain in this book. Chris and his wife are attempting to renovate their new home while adjusting to living on a farm in a strange nation. They face a variety of challenges, just like any other new expat. The pair, on the other hand, finds new acquaintances along the road and eventually creates a unique and enjoyable existence in Spain. Furthermore, the narrator is able to integrate himself into his Andalusian neighborhood, reminding the reader of how pleasant it is to get along with one’s neighbors.
Granada: The Light of Andalucia by Steven Nightingale
Granada is without a doubt one of Spain’s most fascinating cities, with a history shaped by Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Steven Nightingale and his family go to Granada and dwell in the famous Albayzin area in this book. As he strives to understand his new home, he acquires an affinity for both the history and culture of Granada.
Expats Spain: No Bull Truth about Living in Spain by Mark Shearman
Anyone considering relocating to Spain should read this book. Shearman’s book Expats Spain takes a lighthearted look at what it’s like to be a foreigner in Spain. He intends to shed light on the true experience of forging a new life in a new nation, having moved to Spain with his family in 2002.