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The best novels about Spain

Updated on December 15, 2014

Books set in Spain, spain travel guide 2012

There are many books about Spain, often written by the Spanish authors themselves. But there are also great novels set in Spain written by outsiders. By journalists, travelers or expats.

Spain is a popular holiday destination, and rightly so. But before you go on holiday to Spain you can already read your way into the country. Literature is a well respected art in Spain and there are thousands of small reading and writing clubs. I wanted to recommend you some books that gave me a lot of insight in the Spanish culture. There great fiestas, the traditional Spanish dishes, like paella, and the Spanish history.

Spain has a lot to offer, it is a country with a rich history. With great achievements, but black chapters in it as well. Every body has heard about Don Quixote sooner or later. The man who read to many history novels and thought himself a knight as well. But that's all together a different story.

I want to share with you some great books about modern Spain. experiences from journalists and expats. Travellers and tourists. Novels written by people who love Spain but are not necessarily Spanish themselves.'

The cover of the great book above is from Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past, a magnificent book about Spain.

Driving over Lemons is a great book. The novel is set in the region south of Granada. It gives us insight in the life of Chris Stewart, former drummer of Genesis. Well, at the age of seventeen he left Genesis and started as a sheep shearer and travel writer. He never regretted it though. Had he become a big-time rock star he never would have made it to the remote mountains of Andalusia.

Chris Stewart writes in his best selling novel "Driving over Lemons" about his misadventures with his neighbors, peasant farmers and shepherds. The book is a great laugh, and for all the expats living in Spain incredible recognizable. Chris describes his life in Spain with a sense of wonder and optimism that makes you smile.

He writes tenderly about his farm that he and his wife Ana bought, the olive, almond and lemon groves. Even the fact that they do not have a water supply or electricity can't stop them in being positive.

The book is a great read, and you regret it when you've finished it. Luckily there are three books now.

Peter Gabriel, former Genisis bandmate said about the book :

"An idyllic life in a remote, sunny part of Europe is a fantasy normally punctured by harsh realities, and abandoned. Chris is made of sterner stuff. Driving over Lemons" is a wonderful account of his Andalusian adventure.

Almond Blossom Appreciation Society - The third book in the Driving over Lemons trilogy.

Almonds in Blossom
Almonds in Blossom

Duende - A Journey Into the Heart of Spanish Flamenco

Duende: A Journey Into the Heart of Flamenco
Duende: A Journey Into the Heart of Flamenco

Duende : A journey into the heart of Flamenco.

Well Chris Stewart said about the book : "I found his descriptions of the Flamenco underworld irresistible...I couldn't put it down".

And right he is. Duende by Jason Webster is an amazing tale about the intense emotional gypsy music.If you've ever had the honor to be up close during a flamenco performance you know what it feels like. The ecstasy, the spontenious and raw energy that comes loose during a flamenco performance is incredible.

Jason Webster writes about the people who are flamenco, who breath and eat flamenco. Jason gets deep into the afairs of those who are bounded by the Spanish dance. He meets a guitar teacher who is practising for hours on end until his fingers bleed. He has an passionate affair with Lola a flamenco dancer and gets deep into the world of the pasionate flamenco dance.

The dance where all the musicians are searching, looking for that moment of Duende - The moment the spirit of the music reveals itself.

Duende is a fascinating and exceptional book, well written with passion and love.

Duende : a journey into the heart of Flamenco and Spain

Camaron de La Isla

Camaron de La Isla
Camaron de La Isla

Cameron de la Isla - Duende from Spain - The best flamenco from Spain

Camaron de la Isla - Leyenda Del Tiempo 1979

Camarón de la Isla was the stage name of flamenco gypsy singer José Monje Cruz.

His uncle José nicknamed him Camarón (Spanish for "Shrimp") because he was blonde and fair skinned. At the age of eight he started to sing at bars and bus stops to earn some money. When he was sixteen he won the first prize at the Festival del Cante Jondo in Mairena del Alcor. Camarón then went to Madrid with Miguel de los Reyes

He met Paco de Lucía in Madrid with whom he recorded nine albums between 1969 and 1977. He died in Spain in 1992 as a super star, more than a 100.000 people gathered at his funeral.

La Leyenda Del Tiempo (1979)
La Leyenda Del Tiempo (1979)

This record of Camaron de la Isla is great, intense and brings a new sound to the flamenco. It is not an ordinary flamenco record. Even now it sounds new and fresh. It has great rhythms and eastern beats as well. It was the last album Camaron recorded and for some flameco lovers it was far to modern when it was brought out in 1979. A sign that it was made by a great artist.


Paella, Paella

Did you know that "Paella" means "Para Ella" - for her.... Traditionally the men cook the Paella for there wives.

Ghosts of Spain. - the best book about Spain

Ghost of Spain is great, it s so good that I've lend it to somebody, and I never got it back. I forgot as well who I gave it to, a pity. Because it's a wonderful novel. Everything you wanted to know about modern Spain is written in it. The dictatorship, the time when Franco was in power. The tourism and how Franco allowed bikini's...This in contrast to the Catholic Church who was strongly against the bikini. But without bikini, no tourism...

It is amazing how Franco could reign so long, he was friends with Hitler and Mussolini, but after WWII he could hold his position until he died on 20 November 1975.

The Ghost of Spain is written by Giles Tremlett a Guardian's correspondent living in Madrid.the book is written in an entertaining way but full of facts about Spain. I remember a part from the book when Tremlett tells us about the first time he wants to rent a flat in Madrid. He opens the door, and there on the wall, hangs a portrait of Adolf Hitler..."Oh the decoration is a bit old fashioned" says the landlady and walks away.... The book is hilarious and serious at the same time.

For me as an expat living in Spain, a lot of Spanish behavior became clear after reading the book. And I finally knew what those funky neon lights meant along the highway!!!! - Not jazz-clubs I can assure you.

If you ever where curious about Spain, this is the book you have to buy. Ghosts of Spain is one of the best books about Spain I have read. About it's tradition, fiestas and it's culture. You will read a lot about the history of Spain the Spanish themselves would or don't want to know...

The Ghosts of Spain : the hidden stories of Spain

Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America

quick and easy spanish tapas recipes

Tapas are probably besides the paella the most famous part of the Spanish cuisine. In every respected Spanish bar has at least 10 different sorts of Tapas. From patatas bravas (patatoes ith garlick majonaise), Calamares (deep fried squid body rings) to artichoke and pickled chillies and anchovy. They are great at a late night out on a warm summer day. Sitting on the terrace with a good local wine.

sunset in Spain

sunset in Spain
sunset in Spain

Have you ever been to Spain, or would you love to go,

Have you read a book about Spain before you traveled to Spain ?

Tell me your experience. Where did you go, or which Spanish city would you love to visit.

Have you read any books about Spain ?

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