reading books about spain

Best Books About Spain: 50+ Books to Add to Your Shelf

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Aside from travel, reading is one of my favorite things to do which is why I’ve put together this list of the best books about Spain. It’s so great to get enthralled with a novel, escape into the world the writer has built, and experience their version of life. On the flipside, reading non-fiction is a way to learn new things and expand your knowledge… this often makes me appreciate a place even more when I travel to it!  

This list of books on Spain covers a whole range of genres, be it historical fiction, thrillers, mysteries, personal accounts, non-fiction books on Spanish history and culture, and more. There’s sure to be something on this list that will pique your interest!

Happy reading! 

Editor’s Note:

If you love physical books (a Kindle is great but sometimes nothing beats the feel of an actual book in our hands!), we recommend buying from It’s a great way to support small local bookstores! You can find the books on this list here.

Best Novels About Spain

Classics, historical novels, thrillers and more — these novels about Spain will keep your attention riveted. Read on and find one that suits your taste!

1. “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes

A list of the best books about Spain wouldn’t be complete without this classic novel by Cervantes. Published in the 1600s, this work is often considered to be the first modern novel and is widely thought of as one of the most significant books ever written. 

Cervantes’ Don Quixote covers many themes — such as love and friendship, injustice, chivalry, religious beliefs, conviction in our beliefs, etc — as we follow the (mis)adventures of Don Quixote & his squire Sancho in the Spanish region of Castile-La Mancha. 

Don Quixote is long and it can be hard to read but it’s worth it. Give it a try and discover for yourself why this is the best-selling novel of all time.

2. “The City of Marvels” by Eduardo Mendoza 

Get a peek at Barcelona as it was during the turn of the 20th century in The City of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza. 

This book about Spain is set between the World Fairs of 1888 and 1929 which Barcelona hosted. It chronicles the evolution of the city during this time as we follow the ups and downs of the life of a young man, Onofre Bouvila, as he crawls his way out of poverty to become the richest man in Spain. 

This novel about Spain is a great look into the urban development of Barcelona with a compelling rags-to-riches story. 

3. “Tales of the Alhambra” by Washington Irving 

Granada’s Alhambra is a place of beauty and mystique and the book on Spain is an awesome way to dive into the magic of the Alhambra. 

A mix of essays and short fiction, this book weaves history and legend to keep your interest – this is not for you if you’re looking for a dry account of history! Irving’s beautiful descriptions of the Alhambra and retelling of key historical events as well as the fascinating legends associated with this iconic place offer an enthralling look into the past. 

I would highly recommend reading this if you’re planning a trip to Granada; it will definitely give you a greater appreciation when you’re there. (I wish I had done this!)

4. “All That Followed” By Gabriel Urza

Inspired by a true story, Gabriel Urza’s debut novel is a thriller that’s set in a fictional Basque town, in the aftermath of the bombing in Madrid’s Atocha station in 2004. 

Told through the eyes of three characters, this book about Spain revolves around the murder of Councilman José Antonio Torres and the truth of what really happened. As the mystery unfolds, we get a sense of not only the beauty of the Basque region but also its tumultuous history and how it has affected the Basque people. 

This is a compelling read that you won’t be able to put down!

5. “The Last Jew” By Noah Gordon 

This piece of historical fiction offers a glimpse of the Spanish Inquisition and its impact on the people who were persecuted during this dark time of Spain’s history. 

“The Last Jew” follows the story of young Yonah Toledano who vows to remain a Jew even after the deaths of his father and brother. He journeys across Spain as he attempts to hold on to his Jewish roots in a time of religious persecution. Through his interactions and experiences with others, we learn more about the customs, perspectives, and life during the Inquisition. 

Ultimately, this book about Spain reminds us of the power of faith and the human will to survive and makes us think about what identity means to us.  

6. “Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso Falcones

This well-crafted historical novel about Spain has everything – a look at life in 14th-century Barcelona, love, friendship, revenge, and war. 

On one hand, the story covers the building of the iconic cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar and Arnau Estanyol who joins the guild of stoneworkers working on the construction. On the other hand, it’s the time of the Inquisition and Arnau’s best friend and adopted brother Joanet is studying to join the clergy. 

What happens when Arnau’s forbidden love affair leads to betrayal and him being questioned by the Inquisitor… who turns out to be Joanet? 

If you love Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth”, you definitely have to read this!

PS. You might first want to flip to the end to read the author’s note that outlines what is fact and what is fiction – reading this before you begin the book heightens your appreciation of it!

7. “A Million Drops” by Victor del Árbol

For an engrossing tale that spans decades and takes you through history from the rise of Communism and Fascism and the Spanish Civil War to a post-Franco Spain to the early 2000s, look no further than this best-selling thriller. 

The book centers around Gonzalo Gil as he untangles a multi-generational drama. Along the way, we learn about the Spanish Civil War, its connection with the broader happenings in Europe at that time, and its impact on modern Spain. 

Some have complained that this book about Spain has its slow moments and it can be emotionally hard to read due to its heavy themes — It’s a haunting look at a grim time and examines man’s propensity for violence.  But while it can be hard to read, it’s a memorable book that’s worth it. 

8. “The Bird King” by G. Willow Wilson

Want a touch of magical realism in your historical fiction? Then check out this book that weaves some fantasy along with Arabic and Islamic folklore in a story that will enchant you. 

This story of friendship, love and freedom covers the journeys of Fatima, a concubine of a Moorish sultan and her only friend Hassan, a royal mapmaker with the amazing ability to map places he’s never seen. Forced to go on the run after the fall of the Alhambra, we join them in their magical adventure to find the mythical Kingdom of the Birds. 

This novel set in Spain offers an interesting juxtaposition of two major cultures in history – all wrapped up in an exciting, moving tale. Must read!

9. “Solitude: A Novel of Catalonia” by Victor Català

This classic feminist book about Spain is written by Caterina Albert i Paradís who necessarily published this under a male pseudonym. 

First published in 1905, this novel isn’t actually Spanish – it’s Catalan. The prose is atmospheric, imparting the harsh beauty of its Pyrenees’ setting but more significantly, the book is a deep dive into Mila’s feminine individuality and how she reacts to prescribed notions of what it means to be a woman. 

This is an interesting read, especially if you’re into feminist literature. 

10. “The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile” by C.W. Gortner

For an insightful look into one of the main figures in Spanish history, check out this historical fiction novel about Spain’s Queen Isabella. 

This book offers a look at Isabella’s life, starting as a young girl who becomes heiress to the kingdom to Castille to her marriage with Fernando and what they accomplished during their reign. Through it all, we get a human and intimate look at her character (good and bad) and what it took to forge together a nation. 

Filled with interesting historical details and commentary weaved into the narrative, this is an engrossing read about one of Spain’s greatest monarchs. 

Books & Novels About Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War is one of the key events in the country’s history and so it’s no surprise that there are many books and novels set during this time. These books can offer a look into the forces behind the war, what life was like during this time, and the impact the war has had on the Spanish people. 

Further down this list, you’ll find non-fiction books on this topic but if you prefer the interweaving of history and storytelling, then check out these novels about the Spanish Civil War. 

11. “The Assassin’s Mark: A Novel of the Spanish Civil War” by David Ebsworth

Looking for history mixed with mystery, political plottings, and interesting characters? Check out this novel about the Spanish Civil War that is not just very well-researched but has a compelling story as well. 

It’s 1938 and while the war is still raging, Franco is so sure of victory that he has opened up the northern coast of Spain to tourism. Enter a group of British tourists, including our main character journalist Jack Telford who’s keen to dig into the truth of what’s happening in Spain. With each person in the tour group having their own agendas, Telford finds himself getting drawn into the political intrigues around him. 

There’s lots of action, twists and turns, and a murder mystery to solve… all while learning more about the Spanish Civil War. 

12. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway  

This Hemingway classic novel about the Spanish Civil War is a bit of a “love it or hate it”… so you may have to give it a try before deciding which side you’re on. 

Set in 1937, the story centers around an American, Robert Jordan, who has joined the fight against Franco’s Nationalist forces — and he’s on a mission to blow up a bridge to help the rebel cause. To complete his task, he connects with three guerilla fighters and Jordan’s relationships with them form the core of the story. 

This action-adventure tale raises questions about very human themes such as war, personal guilt, religion and responsibility, wrapped up in Hemingway’s economical yet powerful style of writing. 

13. “The Return” by Victoria Hislop 

Set in Granada, this novel interweaves two different timelines and stories, one in the modern day and the other during the Spanish Civil War. The common threads: flamenco and love. 

The plotline that’s set during the Civil War offers a glimpse of what life was like for ordinary Spaniards as we follow the Ramirez family during this turbulent time. The two stories eventually converge and some readers have said that the coincidence is too on-the-nose but it doesn’t detract from enjoying the book. 

One highlight of this book about Spain is its descriptions of flamenco — evocative, rich, and moving.

14. “Winter in Madrid” by C.J. Sansom

This best-selling crime novel is set in post-Civil War Spain. It will take you along some twists and turns with the main character, Harry Brett, a Brit who unknowingly gets embroiled in an espionage plot in 1940s Madrid.

Sansom has a great sense of time and place in describing what Franco’s Spain was like. The writer’s historical note at the end of the novel is a must-read as it provides good context to help you understand the historical backdrop.

15. “Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War” by Amanda Vaill

You may think that this book about the Spanish Civil War is fiction… but it’s actually non-fiction. 

“Hotel Florida” gives us a look at the Civil War through the lens of three couples: photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, writers Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, and the chief of the foreign press office Arturo Barea and his Austrian deputy Ilsa Kulcsar. 

It reads almost like a novel but Amanda Vaill has drawn on historical documents, recovered film reels and unpublished letters and documents to put together a compelling narrative of these characters, their love affairs, and the role of the media during the Spanish Civil War. 

16. “The Time in Between” by María Dueñas

This historical fiction novel covers not just the Spanish Civil war but the period before World War II and it offers an intriguing glimpse not just of Spain but also of Morocco during this turbulent period. 

Stuck in Tetouan after being abandoned by her Moroccan lover, our protagonist Sira Quiroga has to turn her life around. She becomes a dressmaker and ultimately moves back to Madrid and becomes a high-end atelier. As a “dress-maker to the stars” who’s privy to gossip and private conversations and with access to notable persons, she becomes a spy for the British and gets swept up in the events of the era. 

The book has great ambience and atmosphere and does a great job of conveying what life was like during that period of time. 

17. “Guernica” by Dave Boling 

Many of us are probably familiar with the name “Guernica” as it’s one of Picasso’s most well-known works. This historical novel is set in the Basque town that inspired the painting and Boling weaves together history and fiction in a tale that will capture your interest. 

Filled with characters with heart, a uniquely Basque sensibility, and a community that’s reeling from an unexpected attack, this novel is a gripping tale that is a perfect complement of Picasso’s visceral painting. 

Like the artwork, it offers another human look at the horrific event and gives us a deeper appreciation for the Basque spirit, culture, and traditions. 

Books Set in Spain 

A book’s setting can add atmosphere, ramp up the stakes, or introduce another layer to the storytelling. These books set in Spain make awesome use of Spanish locations, history, and culture to create unique reading experiences. 

Whether you like romance, crime, history, or mystery, there’ll be something for you here.

18. “The Shadow Of The Wind” By Carlos Ruiz

This book set in Spain is a page-turner that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it. 

It’s the first novel set in Ruiz’s literary universe of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books with a young hero Daniel Sempere who finds a book called “The Shadow of the Wind” in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

Daniel falls in love with the books and falls into obsession, wanting to learn all he can about Julian Carax. He unleashes a mystery when he realizes that someone is systematically destroying all of Carax’s books and his copy is one of the last few remaining…

Filled with adventure, romance, and mystery, with an atmospheric post-war Barcelona as its backdrop, this novel will keep you spellbound.

19. “The Island Villa” by Lily Graham 

For something a little lighter but no less enjoyable, check out this novel set in the Spanish island of Formentera. 

The story revolves Charlotte, a grieving widow who is surprised by one last gift from her late husband; her grandmother’s island villa. When Charlotte arrives at the island, she discovers her family’s hidden past and secrets…

Full of the hope of new beginnings and the uncovering of mysteries from the past, this novel is a lovely summer read. 

20. “Death in Spring” by Mercè Rodoreda

Written by prominent Catalan writer Mercè Rodoreda, this book set in Spain… isn’t quite the Spain that you might expect. In fact, the town itself remains nameless, with its strange and horrific customs and rituals taking center stage. 

The brutal and dystopian world depicted in this novel is akin to Franco’s Spain, with an eerie dash of magical realism. The writing is lyrical and poetic, which almost making renders the horrors that are happening even more stark. 

Disturbing yet beautiful, this book isn’t for everyone… but it’s a powerful read. 

21. “The Whispering City” by Sara Moliner

This thrilling murder mystery set in 1950s Barcelona uses the backdrop of Franco’s regime to add another layer of tension to this tale. 

Young journalist Ana Marti finds herself assigned to shadow the inspector who’s investigating the murder of a socialite. But a stash of strange letters found at the scene of the crime seems to imply that the official version of the crime may not quite be the truth… 

This look at a fascist Barcelona oozes with everything you’d find in a black underbelly: corruption, violence, censorship, depravity, and shady characters. 

22. “All This I Will Give to You” by Dolores Redondo 

Set in Galicia, this mystery novel begins with Manuel Ortigosa learning that his husband (Alvaro) has died in a car crash in Monforte. When he arrives in Spain, he uncovers his late husband’s secret life, his dysfunctional family, and a whole host of secrets and untruths. 

Was Alvaro’s death really an accident? What secrets are his family keeping? 

This book is a story about family, privilege, trauma and grief… and the beautiful poetic descriptions of Galicia will inspire you to visit!

23. “The Invisible Guardian” by Dolores Redondo

Here’s another page-turning novel by Dolores Redondo. Be transported to the Basque country as we follow homicide inspector Amaia Salazar who returns to her hometown to solve some eerie murders. 

This crime novel interweaves Basque mythology, superstitions, and custom into its thrilling plotline, showing how modernity and the past somehow co-exist in this community. The landscape and atmosphere of the Basque also seem almost like another character in the book — rainy, grim, chilly. 

With a compelling mystery and a fascinating setting, this book is a pleasure to read. 

24. “The Fountains of Silence” by Ruta Sepetys

For insight into 1950s Spain with a dose of romance, check out “The Fountains of Silence”. 

The story follows Daniel Matheson, a young man who wants to be a photographer, not inherit his father’s business. On a family trip to Madrid, he meets Ana, a maid at the hotel they’re staying at… and a romance blossoms.

As Daniel takes photos of Franco’s Spain, the question starts popping up… and he unearths a tragic secret and a horrific dark side to an already dark time. 

25. “Berta Isla” by Javier Marías

This novel about espionage isn’t like the typical spy novel — instead of action, adventure, and political intrigues, this book set in Spain shows us the domestic consequences of a double life and explores the relationship between husband and wife.

Deeply introspective, this book explores themes such as identity, trust, deception and duty. Marias’ style of writing may be a bit dense for some but if you enjoy pondering about life and human nature, this could be just your cup of tea. 

26. “Such Small Hands” by Andrés Barba

If horror novels are your type, then don’t miss this book!

The story takes place in an orphanage and its new young inhabitant Marina who devises a game that slowly escalates in violence. There’s a haunting, moody, and eerie atmosphere in the book will keep you feeling unsettled as the story unfolds. 

A different take on the struggles of youth, this book feels surreal, dark, and poetic. 

27. “Homeland” by Fernando Aramburu

This novel about Spain gives us a deeper look at the Basque conflict. Through the eyes of two families, we not only learn about everyday life but also the power of ideology and how it can divide people. 

Through events that transpire after the tragic murder of a family member by ETA militants (which includes a son of the other family), we see both sides of the Basque conflict and how it affects the common person. 

With short chapters and told in a non-linear fashion, this book is fast-paced — you won’t be able to put it down!

Books about Camino de Santiago 

The Camino de Santiago is one of the most popular and beloved pilgrimage routes in the world. Maybe you’re dreaming of your own Camino (as I am) or you just want to relive a treasured memory… then check out these books about Camino de Santiago that will inspire and move you. 

28. “The Pilgrimage” by Paulo Coelho

This book about Camino de Santiago is part personal account and part self-discovery… which isn’t surprising at all if you’re familiar with Paulo Coelho’s work. Interestingly, it’s said that this book paved the way for Coelho to write the super-popular “The Alchemist”. 

Also like Coelho’s other books, this one is easy to read, filled with interesting characters, some twists and turns, and inspiring insights about life. 

If you’re looking for something thoughtful and uplifting, you can’t go wrong with this choice. 

29. “Steps Out Of Time, One Woman’s Journey On The Camino” By Katharine Soper

It’s often said that doing the Camino is life-changing, and this book is one woman’s story of how the Camino unfolded for her. 

What makes this story so enjoyable is that Soper is just like you and I, an ordinary person with a content life. Yet as we go on the Camino with her and she shares her intimate thoughts and feelings, we see how powerful the experience can be.

Whether you’re an armchair hiker or someone who dreams of doing the Camino, this fun, insightful, and inspiring book has something for everyone. 

30. “The Way, My Way” By Bill Bennett

This book about Camino de Santiago is everything you’d want in a personal memoir: engaging, funny, painfully realistic (the author blew out his knee a few days after he started!), and ultimately uplifting. 

Bennett’s account of his Camino experience oozes charm and wit and it’s filled with interesting nuggets and musings. And while it is a light read, he also shares some of his inner thoughts and feelings and what he learned during his Camino. 

This is a great read whether or not you intend to walk The Way. 

31. “Walking to the End of the World: A Thousand Miles on the Camino de Santiago” by Beth Jusino

Here’s another humorous and engaging book about the Camino. Written by Beth Jusino, she shares the story of how she and her husband undertook this epic walk. 

One thing that makes Beth’s story highly relatable is that she wasn’t at all athletic nor into extreme adventures… and hearing what she achieved makes it easier for us to dream that we can do it too!

Highs and lows, tales of new friends, and beautiful landscapes, this account of the Camino undone by an average couple will inspire you to get off your couch and get dreaming. 

Books on Spain – History, Culture, Food & More

Non-fiction books on Spain aren’t all boring and the picks on this list will prove it to you! Explore different parts of the country’s history, learn more about important historical figures, and discover the depths behind this beautiful country with these wonderful books on Spain. 

32. “Discovering Spain: An Uncommon Guide” By Penelope Casas

Part travel guide, part history book, this book on Spain is a good one to take with you on your travels. 

While Casas’ recommendations on what to do and what to eat are super helpful, what’s most valuable is the information she shares about the country. She shares insights about each part of Spain, offering great historical and cultural context that instantly heightens your appreciation of where you are. 

That said, some travel-related information may be out of date as the book has not been updated recently- but Casas’ passion shines through in her sharing of Spanish history, culture, and food. 

33. “Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture” by Matt Goulding

If you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss out on this book about Spain! 

Goulding takes you on a culinary journey around Spain, highlighting the country’s best restaurants and dishes, sharing hidden gems, featuring food personalities, and showcasing the connection between Spanish food, its people, and its history. 

Alongside the stunning photography are little pearls of information about Spanish food culture, travel tips, deeply evocative descriptions of food that will have you salivating. (Don’t read while you’re hungry, trust me!)

34. “Tapas Revolution by Omar” Allibhoy

Feeling inspired to try your hand at some Spanish dishes? This cookbook by Omar Allibhoy offers 120 recipes of classic dishes that you can make right in the comfort of your home!

Allibhoy’s recipes are rooted in his love for the food he grew up with and in the Spanish cookbook, he’s made them accessible for the home cook. Whether it’s a new take on the tortilla or a delicious twist on albondigas, these easy-to-follow recipes will impress you and your loved ones. 

35. “Spain in Mind” by Alice Leccese Powers (Editor)

For a mix of perspectives and different types of stories, check out this anthology of short stories, poetry, letters, journal entries, and more. Each offers an individual insight into various facets of Spanish life, culture, traditions and history as seen through the eyes of these travelers. 

You’ll find the usual suspects here (Hemingway, Orwell) as well as other English and American writers. There’s a mix of styles and moods as well as writings on different regions of the country which makes this book on Spain interesting to read.

If you want a travel book with a literary bent, this can’t be missed. 

36. “A Concise History Of Spain” by William D. Phillips Jr & Carla Rahn Phillips 

If you’re a history buff like me, then this concise history of Spain should be on your bookshelf!

History doesn’t have to be long and boring — this book on Spain offers an engaging overview of its history all the way from prehistoric times to modern day. Covering key events and themes, you’ll get a clear look at what has shaped Spain. 

Whether you want to “travel” to Spain by book or want some context for an upcoming trip, this is an easy-to-read history guide. 

37. “Why Spain Matters: The Story of the Land that Shaped the Western World” by Jason Webster

Looking to deepen your understanding of Spain and its role in Europe and the wider world? This book can help contextualize Spanish history and its influence. 

With a mix of history and personal anecdotes, Webster helps us connect the dots on how events, personalities, and ideas from Spain have permeated throughout the world. From the Crusades to Columbus to World War II to philosophy, art, and culture, this is an eye-opening book on Spain. 

38. “Death In The Afternoon” by Ernest Hemingway 

This non-fiction book by Hemingway has a niche topic: bullfighting. 

This emblem of Spanish culture and traditions is deftly described and explained in this book on Spain that’s considered to be one of the best on the topic of bullfighting. Part personal account of his own experience watching bullfighting, part history lesson, you’ll get a better understanding of this ritual and why Hemingway considers it as more than just sport.

Regardless of how you feel about it, this is an educational and fascinating book on the world of bullfighting.

39. “Homage To Catalonia” by George Orwell

Personal accounts of historical events are always fascinating and often more fun to read than straight-up history books. So it’s no surprise that Orwell’s account of the Spanish Civil War is so well-loved. 

What makes this book about Spain even more intriguing is that Orwell ended up volunteering in the fight against the fascists! His account of fighting in the militia is candid and vivid and his explanations of the political climate and rivalry within the socialist factions shed clearer light on what was happening.

This is a fascinating read. It’s astounding how some of Orwell’s observations about war, political change, and revolution are still so salient today. 

40. “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning” by Laurie Lee

See 1930s Spain through the eyes of a young British lad as he walks around Spain on a journey of self-discovery. 

Lee’s travels take place just months before the Spanish Civil War begins and this book is rich with lively descriptions, humor, and charm of the places he saw, the people he met, and what he felt and experienced. This story almost reads like that of a lost world, especially considering the brutal war that would soon engulf Spain. 

This is a travel book like no other that gives you a wonderful sense of the time and place it took place. 

41.“Ghosts Of Spain: Travels Through Spain And Its Silent Past” By Giles Tremlett

Dig deeper into the complex aftereffects of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s Spain in this fascinating book that’s a mix of history, interviews, and journalistic commentary. 

Tremlett takes on the bold task of unpacking the silent issues that still live on in Spain and asks emotional questions about the Civil War, the separatist movements, and the political fault lines in the country… and how this has impacted everyday Spanish life and culture. 

An interesting thing about this book on Spain is that each chapter focuses on one topic and they can be read as stand-alone pieces. 

42. “The Spanish Civil War” by Hugh Thomas
For some serious education on the Spanish Civil War, this is arguably the definitive book on the topic. 

Full of historical details, this book paints the full picture of the devastating war — you’ll get everything you wanted to know… and then some! Be warned that the book is long but it is well-written and clear and gives you a great understanding of this little-known war. 

While history lovers will undoubtedly enjoy this balanced and objective narrative of the Spanish War, this is nonetheless an interesting read for anyone interested in learning about Spain. 

43. “Forgotten Places: Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War” by Nick Lloyd

Written by Nick Lloyd, who spent years offering guided walks in Barcelona on the Spanish Civil War, has put together a book that gives us a little-seen look at this particular side of this beautiful city. 

Part history lesson, part Barcelona guide, this book on Spain is a wonderful expansion of his walking tours (although you should definitely still do one of them when you’re in Barcelona!). On top of the historical narrative, there are also personal stories and biographies to round out your picture of the Civil War as it happened in Barcelona.  

This book is a readable and engaging way to learn about the Civil War. 

44. “The New Spaniards” By John Hooper

This popular book by John Hooper delves into contemporary Spain and examines the country’s progress and transformation in the post-Franco era. 

Covering a gamut of topics from politics to everyday life to changing social values, this book is a great companion for anyone traveling to Spain who wants more than a cursory fun vacation. It offers context to understand the country as it is today and unravels some of the complexity in its history and culture so that we can appreciate the diversity that makes up Spain. 

45. “The Basque History Of The World: The Story Of A Nation” By Mark Kurlansky

If you don’t know anything about the Basque, you’re not alone. Not many are aware of the Basque people, and culture, and history and if you’re interested to know more, this book is a great starting point. 

This book is a fascinating historical account of Basque history, dating from Roman times to modern-day Spain. While there are a lot of pages devoted to politics and nationalism, you’ll also learn more about Basque food, customs, and traditions. You’ll also get some recipes of classic Basque dishes! 

47. “The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain” by Paul Preston

Fair warning: this next book on Spain is pretty grim and tragic… which isn’t a surprise considering the subject matter. 

The horrors of Franco’s regime come to vivid, unyielding clarity in this account of what Preston calls “the Spanish Holocaust”. There really isn’t much more to say; although it is notable that this book gives us more context to understand how the Spanish Civil War was connected to two other tyrannical forces at the time, Stalinism and Nazism. 

This isn’t light reading by any means but it’s still a valuable look at a painful period of Spain’s history. 

45. “Isabella: The Warrior Queen” by Kirstin Downey

This biography of one of the most influential female monarchs will introduce you to Isabella’s life, her long reign, and the impact she had on the country she loved so much. 

Filled with interesting details, stories, and personalities, this book unveils the world that Isabella lived in, the force of her personality, and the scope of what she achieved. One cool thing about this book on Spain is that it sheds light on things we know of but may not know the origin of — think chess, Dracula, and Monty Python. 

This book will make you wonder why Isabella isn’t as well-known as other notable queens in world history. 

48. “Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain” by Brian A. Catlos

Spain and its intersections with three major faiths of the world is a fascinating part of its history and this book gives an in-depth look at Islamic Spain. 

While the book does cover a lot of ground (and so many personalities!), each chapter begins with an outline that gives an overview of what’s next which makes it easy to follow. The complexity of the politics and society in al-Andalus is on full display here. 

What’s interesting is that Catlos offers a more balanced and nuanced view of Muslim Spain and even encourages us to view it without a religious lens. 

49. “The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain” by María Rosa Menocal 

Travel back to medieval Spain and discover how three faiths coexisted in al-Andalus. 

This book on Spain focuses on language, literature, science, and the tolerance that enabled these cultural aspects to flourish in an otherwise dark age. You’ll also discover the many ways we still feel the influence of this civilization today.

Unlike most history books, this one reads like a series of vignettes highlighting key events and personalities of the time period. There’s almost a dreamy, nostalgic quality to the writing that is very evocative and makes it easy to read this book. 

Books About Living in Spain

Nothing’s more fun than reading stories about a fish out of water and these books about living in Spain fit the bill! Fun, light, and informative, these personal accounts of life in Spain as a foreigner are great reads.

50. “Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía” By Chris Stewart

This funny, charming and light-hearted account of moving to Spain will entice you into doing the same. 

Stewart recounts the trials and tribulations of his move to Spain with his family to a gorgeous farm in the Alpujarra mountains around Granada. Join them as they acclimate to their new pastoral life, meet their quirky neighbors, and have fun and funny experiences along the way!

PS: If you enjoy this delightful book about living in Spain, you’ll be glad to know it’s now a trilogy!

51. “South from Granada: A Sojourn in Southern Spain” by Gerald Brenan

Here’s another book about living in the Alpujarras in Granada… but this time in the early 1900s. In 1919, the British Brenan moves to Yegen, a remote Spanish village and this is his personal account and observations of village life. 

This is a great companion to Laurie Lee’s book (mentioned above) which also takes place in the same time period. Brenan’s descriptions are rich, vivid, and memorable, giving us a strong secondhand glimpse of a slice of life at that time. 

52. “Granada: The Light of Andalucia” by Steven Nightingale

Whether you’re dreaming of visiting Granada or you’ve been (and utterly fell in love), this book will enchant you.

Written with a wealth of soul and heart, this is undoubtedly a love letter to Granada. Filled with pages of lilting descriptions and poetic prose, this book is a reflection of the city’s past, present, and people. 

Reading this just makes me want to book my next trip to Granada! 

53. “Snowball Oranges: One Mallorcan Winter” by Peter Kerr

Journey to the Balearic Islands and join the Kerrs on their adventures as they move to Mallorca to grow oranges. 

There are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments as Kerr doesn’t hold back on the ups and downs of learning how to run an orange farm and adapting to a new way of life. But ultimately, this is a feel-good book about living in Spain and gives us a more down-to-earth view of life in the Spanish islands. 

54. “A Woman Unknown: Voices from a Spanish Life” by Lucia Graves

Written by the daughter of famous poet Robert Graves, this personal account of life in Mallorca post-World War II is introspective, poetic, and moving. 

While the book is mostly a memoir, it also paints of a picture of what life was like during Franco’s regime and Graves shares about interesting characters in her life, particularly women. As both an outsider and insider in Spain, it’s interesting to see her balance and connect the different parts of her identities.

It’s an intriguing book with a subtle feminist slant.

For more Spain travel inspiration

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *