Spain is the third largest country in Europe, it’s circumference is 504,782 sq km. The capital is Madrid and its borders extend to the Belearic Islands, the western Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands.
With Spain’s reputation for ritual, passion, history and tradition it attracts over 50,000 visitors a year. While this site focuses on our journey to San Fermin, the country itself is resplendent with staggering beauty, unforgettable cuisine and intriguing people.
Here are five primer books to help you stoke the desire to experience Spain. Get excited along with us!
Lee’s gripping memoir chronicles his impetus to leave Slad, Gloucestershire, with a violin in tow and a dream to start a fresh life – he journeys to London, working on a construction site until he saves enough funds. He travels to Spain, earning money by busking in front of cafes, sleeping in rough conditions and living a free existence. Eventually he gets caught up in the Spanish civil war. The quintessential traveller’s book on Spain.
2) Alice Leccese Powers – Spain in Mind
Ms. Powers is the editor of an anthology series on Italy, France, Ireland and a host of other countries. In this particular anthology, she amasses snippets of poems, essays and prose from a litany of writers (about 40) who’ve fallen in love with Spain. Read Hemingway’s dissection of a bullfight or Barbara Kingsolver’s utopian portrait of the Canary Islands. A diverse source in which to dip into the many facets of Spain.
A multi-character novel that interconnects five characters to the main character of George Fairbanks, an investment analyst for a Switzerland bank. They all converge eventually in Pamplona, where drama, romance and a goring unfolds. Published in 1971, the book is infused with counter-culture ideas of that era as the characters travel beyond Spain to Mozambique and Marrakech. Spellbinding read!
Deceiving as a travelogue, Brenan returns to Spain in 1949 after fleeing to England as the Spanish civil war broke out and World War II splintered Europe. He travels through a succession of provinces and details everything from conversations with villagers to the surrounding architecture. Don’t be fooled though, for he also analyzes Spain’s political and social situation under the authoritative dictatorship of Francisco Franco. A classic read on Spain.
Published in 1964, Morris paints a Spain still steeped in tradition under the Franco regime where men swagger in tailored bolero jackets and women dazzle in frilly skirts or blouses. Each chapter begins with a different region that Morris embues with her deconstructive style of writing – focusing on a facet about the region that the average traveller could miss. Enough to hook you on Spain and ache for more.
Spain continues to fascinate and draw in those seeking its unparalleled charms and the best way to start planning for a trip is to read this country’s mythology.
Enjoy these recommendations and feel free to add more suggestions!
Alhambra photo: Andrew Hall