33 Best Novels & Books About Spain to Read Before Visiting | Books Set in Spain
Explore the best novels & books about Spain before you or when you want to read something that will give you serious wanderlust.
We collected the best travel books as well as fiction and non-fiction Spanish books that will help you get to know Spain’s exciting history and rich culture.
If you love mysteries, comedies, and chick flicks we also have some great books set in Spain that you won’t be able to put down.
We collected a wide selection of award-winning and international best-selling novels as well as books set in Spain that are works of well-known writers and a few lesser-known Spanish authors you’ll be happy to discover.
No matter if you’re looking for a deep historical Spanish novel, a dark thriller, or a fun slice of life book that will help you travel through Spain from your sofa we’ve got something for you.
Explore our ultimate list of the best books about Spain or set in Spain you won’t be able to put down
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33| A Late Dinner: Discovering the Food of Spain by Paul Richardson | 2009 – Cookbook, Travel literature
Many would say, there is no better way to explore a country than through its cuisine.
Thanks to Paul Richardson we can now dive deep into the rich culture of Spain by tasting some of the well and lesser-known dishes.
What is really great about the book is the fact that you are not only presented a dish but actually get the story behind it. Richardson goes to the very source of each particular recipe, so you can pair the food with faces and landscapes as well.
Sometimes even with a glass of opulent Spanish wine.
A Late Dinner: Discovering the Food of Spain is one of the best books about Spain for travelers and foodies.
32| The Vacationers by Emma Straub | 2014 – Novel, Bildungsroman, Domestic Fiction
If you are in search of easy to read books set in Spain that do not require much of your nerves, Emma Straub’s novel will do the job for you.
Mallorca is a popular destination for sun and beach seekers that is why we thought to include this book of fun family mess.
When a couple decides to go on a vacation to celebrate their 35th anniversary with their daughter, things unexpectedly go terribly wrong.
There are some interesting and lovable characters, otherwise, some of the characters maybe a little difficult to relate to but at least they set a negative example everyone can learn from.
The Vacationers is a charming novel set in Spain perfect for teens and adults who enjoy fun coming fo age stories.
31| Origin (Robert Langdon #5) by Dan Brown | 2017 – Novel, Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Adventure fiction
The fifth installation of the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown takes us to some of the most beloved corners of the Mediterranean country.
Langdon’s adventures are going to fascinate you for sure and there is no rest, the world needs saving again.
Well, not the world, but the religious world for sure. Again, there is a lot at stake and there is no one better to stop religion as we know from destruction than the professor.
As we got used to Brown’s mind-blowing clue hunts, Origin is no exception; there are secrets to be uncovered and there isn’t much time.
Origin is among the best mystery books set in Spain mainly in Bilbao and Barcelona.
30| Iberia by James A. Michener | 1968 – Travel literature
James A. Michener is known to be the writer of many fantastic travel books as he never fails at entertaining and informing his readers at the same time.
It is time to really get this fascinating country to know and Iberia is a remarkable book that will go the extra length to educate its readers while also awakening a craving for a visit to this beautiful nation.
To make life easier during your visit to Spain, you will learn about cultural basics and how everyday things such as Spanish surnames work so you can look well prepared while avoiding confusion.
If you just like to soak in information in general, this book is great to look smart in some conversations as well.
Iberia is a great travel book about Spain you should read before visiting or to take it with you on your trip and read on while getting a little bit lost in Spain.
29| The Hive by Camilo José Cela | 1950 – Novel, Fiction, Experimental literature
For a suspenseful, dramatic read, pick up another fantastic fiction by Camilo José Cela. This time you are going to be taken to the devastating and dark times of the Spanish Civil War.
It is a very interesting book with plenty of struggles, action, and broken hearts. You can get a feel of the difficulties this period forced on most of the locals, what it took to survive and how people coped.
Despite being a fiction, Cela did a remarkable job to make it as realistic as possible. As the author was (is) fairly popular in Spain, reading this book will help you make new friends in Spain for sure.
The Hive is a great Spanish book and is among the best fiction books about the Spanish Civil War.
28| Discovering Spain: An Uncommon Guide by Penelope Casas | 1992 – Guidebook, Travel literature
Spanish food expert Penelope Casas has put together one of the best Spanish guide books without a doubt. It is a must-read before and during your visit to Spain.
You can get some extra info on many spots you probably heard about before and also find some great sights that may have not been on your itinerary prior to picking this book up.
Discovering Spain: An Uncommon Guide is not only informative but very entertaining as well. Despite you can consider it a little outdated, being published in 1992 doesn’t mean this book cannot surprise you with some amazing experiences.
Discovering Spain is a great and fun travel book about Spain and is a must-read for foodies and those who want to get to know Spain’s rich cultural heritage.
27| The Frozen Heart by Almudena Grandes | 2007 – Historical Fiction
Here is another fascinating historical fiction book about the Spanish Civil War that takes you on an epic journey filled with mystery and action.
During these terrible times, no one had peace, the whole country was shaken and lovers drifted apart, families were torn and the country went through some of the darkest times.
With the arrival of a strange attractive woman to Torrelodones, a small town in close vicinity to Madrid, Alvaro’s life is about to change.
If his father’s death wouldn’t be enough, which apparently unleashes a number of enormous changes as he uncovers his father’s secrets. Turns out Alvaro and Raquel’s lives are closely connected and one depends on the other to survive.
The Frozen Heart is an entertaining read with plenty of suspense making it one of the best fiction books about Spain.
26| The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys | 2019 Historical Fiction
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is among the most captivating young adult romance books set in Madrid. The story is just perfectly crafted, the characters are easy to connect with, while the events accurately paint a picture of 1957 Spain.
Under the fascist regime, life is far from ideal for most people in the country.
The Matheson family comes to make some fresh connection for the growing oil business and Daniel, the son crosses paths with Ana, whose family has been through plenty.
If you pick up The Fountains of Silence you are in for a lovely cozy reading day in if you enjoy romance, a little history, and mystery.
25| Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones | 2006 – Novel, Historical Fiction
Prepare for time travel that will enchant you for life. Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones takes you to 14th century Barcelona, where life is striving, the city is at its peak.
Constructions and expansion are going on at a fast pace. That is when the fishermen area of Riberia becomes part of the prosperous city.
They make ambitious plans to build the largest Marian temple ever Santa María de la Mar.
At that time lived Arnau, a servant who has decided to break free from his abusive feudal lord and make it on his own in the big world.
He is restlessly working all sorts of odd jobs and when his fortune would seem to turn for the better, greed, envy and ill mindedness plagues his peers who do their best to hold him back.
Falcones’ work is a fantastic read that paints a clear picture of 14th century feudal Spain making it one of the best books about Spain of that time period.
24| Homage to Barcelona by Colm Tóibín | 1990 – Travel Literature, Non-Fiction
Barcelona is hands down one of the most known and beloved cities in Spain and does take a distinguished spot in Europe and the world as well.
If you haven’t visited yet, we are certain Colm Tóibín’s experiences from the ‘70s will make you want to pack and go as soon as you can.
Explore this fantastic city’s architecture, social life and must visit spots with the help of a local.
You can also learn a lot about the history of the capital of Catalonia as it was experienced by locals over the grim times of the first half of the 20th century.
Despite being a bit outdated when it comes to the part of nightlife, Homage to Barcelona is among the best books about Barcelona for sure.
23| A Heart So White by Javier Marías | 1992 – Novel, Domestic Fiction
One of the most remarkable fiction novels set in Spain and Cuba that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the whole length of the book.
Javier Marías has done a great job creating a suspenseful story with dialogues giving you goosebumps and mysteries that shake your world.
No question; A Heart So White is an incredibly well-written novel you are going to have troubles putting down.
We follow Juan, a translator, who is very passionate about his job and does get manipulative from time to time. He is trying to uncover secrets about his father while following his heart to pursue love.
If you are wondering what to read next, you should choose the calm and beautiful novel about Spain because you are in for a treat if you choose A Heart So White by Javier Marías.
22| South from Granada: A Sojourn in Southern Spain by Gerald Brenan | 1957 – Biography, Travel literature
For history lovers South from Granada: A Sojourn in Southern Spain by Gerald Brenan is going to be a great read.
Brenan has served in the military in the first world war and then in 1919 moved to a remote village in southern Spain, where he decided to begin writing.
As these times were quite tough on his host country, he was living a simple life and fairly secluded.
Thanks to Gerald Brenan’s thorough descriptions and observations, you can learn more about this period reading this book than most of the history books.
Naturally, from his perspective and only limited to the areas, he resided or passed through. Still, Brenan’s writing is among the most entertaining books about Spain and its culture.
21| Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past by Giles Tremlett | 2006 – Non-fiction, Travel literature
Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past is surely one of the best books to read before visiting Spain.
Thanks to Giles Tremlett’s thorough research, you can get a much better understanding of current political differences, general issues and some of the biggest events that shaped the last few centuries.
If you want to read books on Spain that are honest and help you interpret issues you have only heard about no one was able to give you a proper explanation, then Tremlett’s writing is a superb find for you.
It is a perfectly written, open book about facts that will shed some light on a long time debated issues.
Ghosts of Spain is an interesting nonfiction book about Spain and is read for those who want to learn more about Spain’s history and culture.
20| The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by María Rosa Menocal | 2020 – Non-fiction
Lead scholar of medieval culture and history Maria Rosa Menocal’s comprehensive book on Spanish history is definitely a must read if you enjoy getting to know your next destination’s past and culture before visiting.
Out of all the books on Spain, The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain is among the most informative ones about Spanish history that were closely tied to religion.
Even if you are not necessarily a huge history fan, there are some really interesting points what an important role the Iberian peninsula played in bringing cultures and religions together.
The Ornament of the World is a beautiful Spanish novel that will help you get to know Spain’s exciting history, culture, and religions better.
19| Duende: A Journey Into the Heart of Flamenco by Jason Webster | 2003 – Biography, Travel literature
There are only a few books on Spain that go into such depth of the passionate world of Flamenco.
Thanks to Jason Webster’s honest and revealing memoir on how he ended up practicing hard to become a Flamenco guitarist we can understand better one of Spain’s national treasures.
Get the people to know through this heart crunching story and experience the limitless passion that comes with this life.
By reading Duende by Jason Webster you will be able to visit beautiful Spanish coasts, its lively cities and meet the extraordinary people who live there.
18| The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile by C.W. Gortner | 2012 – Novel, Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Based on real events and figures of history, C.W. Gortner’s is one of the best historical fiction novels about Spain for sure. You are going to be breathless for most of the pages as it is smartly thrilling with plenty fit into those 400 pages.
What was going on behind closed doors with one of the most controversial queens Europe’s history has seen? Isabella was responsible for major growth of the kingdom resulting in prosperity.
She has also played a significant role in the bloody years of inquisition that had seen thousands of innocent people die.
The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile is a fantastic book set in 15th-16th century Spain with battles, twists and some romance.
17| Roads to Santiago by Cees Nooteboom | 1992 – Biography
Dutch Novelist Cees Nooteboom introduces Spain in a fine way, you get to see the best in the country with your mind’s eye. The author sets out on a journey that has been considered one of the biggest challenges one can take on foot.
It is the Camiño de Santiago (St James’ way) which is among the longest catholic pilgrimage routes in the world. On the way, you get to visit amazing spots that aren’t just beautiful or relevant from a religious point of view but also soothing to the soul.
Nooteboom doesn’t simply visit sights, he also walks in some of the greatest artists’ shoes making this book a truly fascinating read.
Roads to Santiago is definitely one of the best books on Spain that entertains while introducing the country’s sights, religion, art and some of its history.
16| The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan | 2013 – Historical Fiction, Adventure fiction, Religious Fiction
There is no extensive list of titles without at least one book with witches. Helen Bryan’s enchanting story of Menina Walker is surely a great pick for a mysterious read while curling up at home.
The protagonist girl has been through quite a lot in her childhood, but fortune was always on her side until a terrible turn of events that forces her to get away from the USA all the way to Spain.
As she immerses herself in her studies, during research she uncovers some secrets that change her life forever.
The Sisterhood is a must-read fiction novel set in Spain with witches, which is more like a good mystery than a magic-wielding fantasy perfect for Dan Brown fans.
15| The Blind Man of Seville (Javier Falcon #1) by Robert Wilson | 2003 – Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
By reading the first book of the Javier Falcon series you are about to embark on an eventful journey that may just be the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the generally unsentimental detective, Javier Falcon.
Well, it could be a more ideal setting for a friendship to kick off than a horrible murder, but if you are a crime mystery fanatic, this is just the best way for you.
Let’s all head to Seville and get to the end of this grotesque case to then sit back and relax. Only until you pick up the next book of the series.
Robert Wilson’s piece is well written, delightfully complex and eventful making it one of the best crime thriller novels set in Seville Spain.
14| The Last Jew by Noah Gordon | 1999 – Novel, Historical Fiction
Looking back at history, there were some periods we all would have been happier if they did not happen at all.
Among the many dark moments of our world, the Spanish inquisition is definitely a chapter we would all gladly tear out of our history books.
Noah Gordon has done a fascinating job commemorating the crushing events of the inquisition of Spanish Jews.
As Catholicism spread in the country, many Jews have been forced to renounce their religion or face terrible consequences. It was a bloody time with thousands of casualties and countless tortured.
A 15-year old boy called Yonah embarks on a probing journey to honor his parents retaining his Jewish religion. On his extraordinary trip, he discovers secrets, more about his past and becomes a fighter.
The Last Jew is among the most entertaining historical fiction books about Spain.
13| The Yellow Rain by Julio Llamazares | 1999 – Fiction
Beloved Spanish author Julio Llamazares has written a superb piece that would deserve way more recognition.
The Yellow Rain is a beautiful novel that takes you to a remote village called Ainielle in the Spanish Pyrenees and to its last habitant. This once charming place has become a ghost town of ruins and fading memories.
We get to live the last days of an old man who has so much to remember, old friends, promising life and all the love this man has towards his home.
Memories accompany him in his final moments allowing us to look into a way of life that is soon to cease forever.
The Yellow Rain is one of the most touching books set in rural Spain.
12| Winter in Madrid by C. J. Sansom | 2006 – Romance novel, Thriller, Suspense, Historical Fiction, War story, Spy fiction
Renown British crime writer C. J. Sansom’s is among the best crime novels taking place in Spain.
Set in the 1940s following the Spanish Civil War and before a possible second war, you are going to find yourself in the epic story of Harry Brett.
He comes from a wealthy background and now tries to reconnect with an old friend from school, who conducts all sorts of business in Madrid.
Harry gets fairly close to Sandy Forsyth, the old friends, whose partner, Barbara has a secret mission as well.
With extraordinary characters, unexpected twists and perfect description of wartime Madrid, Sansom’s 2006 book is a memorable read without question.
11| Then. Now. Always. by Isabelle Broom | 2017 -Fiction, Romance novel, Chick lit
If you are looking for a fun, easy read for a cozy evening in, Isabelle Broom’s lovely romance will definitely be a superb pick for you.
Then. Now. Always. is smartly written with a little humor and complications that could only happen with Hannah. Or you may think so. Life is unpredictable, so it’s best if you prepare for the worst as well.
Take a long holiday with Hannah in Spain as she sets out with a small crew to shoot a documentary. She thinks it would be a great opportunity to get closer to her boss and crush, but life never fails to intervene and screw things up.
So you better prepare for the worst and things may work out well by the end.
Then. Now. Always. is among the most amusing romance books set in Spain that are perfect pics for a fun beach read.
10| As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee | 1969 – Biography, Autobiography, Travel literature
Laurie Lee’s is certainly among the best novels about Spain in the 1930s.
At the age of 20 in ‘34 Lee left England for a year in Spain which led to him eventually returning to the Mediterranean country to become a member of the Republican Brigade.
But this is for the last book of the autobiographical trilogy.
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is the second book that invites you to explore Spain through his eyes.
You are going to see it all because that time was both beautiful and terrible at the same time. Or at least as the young Laurie Lee experienced it.
As I walked out one morning is a heart-achingly beautiful novel about Spain that will take you back in time.
9| The Assassin’s Mark by David Ebsworth | 2013 – Thriller, Historical Fiction
Spain lover David Ebsworth (Dave McCall) now decided to dive into one of the most popular and darkest part of the country’s history, the civil war.
Now, we get to take a look at the horrible war from a new perspective; we follow Jack Telford, a reporter who has the opportunity to visit the war zone as a tourist. As part of a group, he embarks on a journey that is going to change his life and may not be for the better.
Sitting on the bus he goes through a number of life-changing experiences that will either create a fascinating story or a trauma for the rest of his life.
The Assassin’s Mark is a thrilling story perfect for those who are looking for darker books about Spain.
8| Travels with My Donkey by Tim Moore | 2004 – Humour, Guidebook, Travel literature
It is time to get those laughing muscles going. British travel writer and humorist now goes on quite a journey with a new friend, Shinto the donkey.
With little or no knowledge of donkeys and absolutely no prior experience riding one, the premise is set for a hilarious time.
We have already included a book about the completion of Camino de Santiago, but this book definitely offers a new angle to the epic, 500-mile journey.
While getting a feel of the long pilgrimage route, you are surely going to laugh out loud many times before reaching the legendary cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.
Travels with My Donkey by Tim Moore is surely among the funniest travel books about Spain.
7| The Labyrinth of The Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón | 2016 – Novel, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Barcelona born critically acclaimed and fan-favorite Ruiz Zafón finished his ‘The Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ saga with another New York Times bestseller.
Zafón is known for his fantastic style of storytelling and didn’t disappoint this time either.
With ‘The Labyrinth of The Spirits’, you’ll step into the adventurous life of Alicia, who has lost her parents in a bombing at the age of nine in 1938.
Now, at twenty-nine, working for the Spanish secret police for a decade, she intends to leave her job but is convinced to stay for one last case.
Spain’s minister of culture has disappeared and the best is needed to solve the case.
The Labyrinth of The Spirits is a fascinating Spanish book perfect for adults and teens who love mysterious and adventurous novels set in Spain.
6| Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell | 1938 – Biography
One of England’s best known 20th-century writers probably needs no introduction. The journalist and author was an interesting person who lived a quite eventful life.
Before working for BBC, he was a police officer with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma for five years and even joined the Spanish Civil War to fight on the Republican army’s side.
His year in the war is told in great detail and absolute honesty, which will definitely be an interesting read for everyone.
It could serve as a history book as well, as you can learn about the Spanish Civil War from someone who has experienced it from up close.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell is definitely one of the most interesting books on Spain during the Civil War.
5| The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | 1988 – Fantasy, Quest, Fantasy Fiction, Adventure fiction
The Alchemist has probably caused a few dreamy days for everyone who read it. This beautiful novel is just partly set in Spain, Andalusia, still we couldn’t leave one of Coelho’s masterpieces out.
Santiago’s story is both a wanderlust inspiring tale and a prompt for a thorough soul-searching as well.
It is very likely that in the past thirty years these pages have made plenty of readers get lost in their thoughts and even shed a few tears.
The boy is told by a fortune teller that he has to travel to Egypt in order to find a treasure. On his fascinating journey, Santiago meets a number of extraordinary people, including an alchemist.
He learns important lessons about life and finds the treasure, which may just be more valuable than he could have ever imagined.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of the most beautiful novels partly set in Spain.
4| The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca | 1945 – Drama
Spanish author, poet and playwright Federico García Lorca is often mentioned among the best Spanish dramatists.
Up until his assassination in 1936 at the age of 38, he was fairly productive working in theaters and writing without rest.
The play is introducing some Spanish traditions that are difficult to find nowadays, maybe in some rural areas they may still be alive.
After the death of the head of the family, his widow Bernarda announces an eight-year mourning period as per their traditions.
Life is already difficult enough for her five daughters who are between the ages of 20 and 39 as their mother doesn’t allow them to socialize or engage in any sort of relationship.
As we go into the play, more and more secrets surface to the outrage of Bernarda who is trying to preserve the family’s reputation.
The House of Bernarda Alba is an eventful drama set in rural Spain that will make a memorable read.
3| The Wind from the East by Almudena Grandes | 2002 – Literary fiction
Out of all the great books set in Spain, Almudena Grandes’s novel is among the most heartbreaking ones.
We are in two parallel storylines following Sara Gómes Morales who lives with her wealthy godmother but at sixteen her life turns upside down and has to return to her parents who have given her up at birth.
Now living in poverty, Sara cannot reconnect with her parents and decides to get away to a coastal town.
The other story is about the Olmedo brothers, who are in love with the same girl. Their rivalry ends up in a terrible fight that leads to the younger boy’s tragic death.
Being afraid of ending up in jail, Juan coincidentally flees to the same town as Sara.
The Wind from the East by Almudena Grandes is among the best fiction books set in Spain.
2| Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes | 1605 – Novel, Parody, Satire, Farce, Psychological Fiction
This over 400-year old classic has proved to be an evergreen that will entertain readers at least for another few centuries. Miguel de Cervantes was ahead of his time and without doubt, he deserves to be praised.
Embark on an incredible journey of becoming the biggest knight the world has ever seen. Or at least let Don Quixote’s unmatchable imagination take you to quests only the bravest would dare to complete.
With superb descriptions, modern humor and remarkable style Cervantes definitely going to mesmerize you on your next trip to the land of imagination.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes is deservedly among the best books set in Spain.
1| The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway | 1926 – Novel, Fiction, Roman à clef
The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926 and became the novel that gained Hemingway recognition as one of the 20th century’s best authors.
In the 1920s Europe’s life is full of extremes and difficulties following the first world war.
We are about to set out on a journey with exuberant Lady Brett Ashley and luckless Jake Barnes from Paris to Spain engaging in rather unconventional activities.
The two make friends and explore both the dark and bright sides of Spain.
The main characters are quite surprising with always a question mark around them; are they heroes or anti-heroes? You are going to love this quaint piece of modern literature.
Once hooked in Hemingway’s art, feel free to also check out For Whom the Bell Tolls set in the times of the Spanish Civil War.
All of Ernest Hemingway’s books about Spain are superb novels, however, ‘The Sun Also Rises’ is the most touching.
Thank you for reading!