Recommend us stuff to read in Spain, about Spain.
May 18, 2015 12:19 PM   Subscribe

tau_ceti and I are leaving for a vacation in Spain this week, hitting Madrid/Basque Country/Barcelona. We're looking for recommendations of stuff to read on our Kindles about the history, culture, geology, etc of regions we might be driving through. Ideas?

For instance, if Bill Bryson wrote a book called A Short History of Nearly Everything in Northern Spain, we'd want that.
posted by deludingmyself to Travel & Transportation around Spain (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Basque History of the World
also, stop in Hondarribia for some pintxos if you get the chance
posted by melissasaurus at 12:27 PM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

george orwell has an excellent memoir about his time in catalonia during the spanish civil war, Homage to Catalonia.
posted by monologish at 12:31 PM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

More Spanish Civil War stuff:

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Guernica (in Madrid)

The Revolution and Civil War in Spain

Vision on Fire

Tour of historical sites in Barcelona
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 12:57 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Fascism in Spain by Stanley Payne is probably the best book on the Spanish Civil War, its roots and its effects out there. It's a long one, but reads really well. Seconding Homage to Catalonia.
posted by General Malaise at 1:11 PM on May 18, 2015

The Cadogan guides are very good; far more in-depth and well written than typical guidebooks. The same publisher has a number of related titles that should serve your purposes including Frontline Madrid: Battlefield Tours of the Spanish Civil War and A Traveller's Companion to Madrid.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:26 PM on May 18, 2015

Ghosts of Spain - for sure!
posted by Kat_Dubs at 2:06 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Beaten to "The Basque History of the World"! Oh well, I would also like to recommend Kurlansky's book Cod, since cod fishing is so important to the Basque region.
posted by chainsofreedom at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2015

Barcelona, by Robert Hughes--old enough now to be called a classic, and beautifully written.
posted by emilypdx at 3:27 PM on May 18, 2015

The Sun Also Rises about Pamplona/Iruna in Basque region
posted by madstop1 at 4:38 PM on May 18, 2015

Lots of good suggestions above but I would like to add Homage to Barcelona (out of print but not too dated) and Nada by Carmen Laforet. The latter is considered a classic and is the only book on this list so far, besides Emma Goldman's (I'd better preview!), written by a woman. It was splendid.
posted by Morrigan at 5:20 PM on May 18, 2015

There’s a great Asturian poet named Fernan Coronas, aka Padre Galo. You may be able to find him in Bookstores in the Basque County or Asturias. You might also like A Moment of War by Laurie Lee, a memoir of a wartime volunteer from England who goes to help in the Spanish Civil War - A more realistic and less romantic For Whom the Bell Tolls.

If you are in the Basque Country, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to Asturies where you will definitely want to experience the sidra.
posted by mulcahy at 6:50 PM on May 18, 2015

George Sand wrote a book about her miserable time in Mallorca - it's quite amusing book. I read it years ago, and I still remember the scene where she accidentally destroyed one of the original maps Columbus took to the Americas.
posted by Toddles at 9:16 PM on May 18, 2015

South From Granada is an excellent memoir about an englishman living in the rural south. The auhor, Gerald Brenen, also wrote a book about traveling in Spain after the civil war called The Face of Spain.

Mulcahy mentioned Laurie Lee's book about the civil war, but he also has another memoir about walking through pre-war Spain calledAs I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (the edition I linked to is three of his books in one- the first, Cider With Rosie, is about his childhood in England).

If you want something from a different perspective, Richard Wright wrote a really fantastic book about his travels as an African-American in post-war Spain called Pagan Spain.

Someone else upthread mentioned Ghosts of Spain, but it focuses a lot on pre-financial crisis politics, in addition to history and culture. It is an interesting book, but somewhat out-of-date.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:01 AM on May 19, 2015

Iberia by James Michener
posted by Flood at 4:10 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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