5 Books To Read Before Going To Spain

Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain      Photo by Adam Cheshier

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You have an adventure to Spain planned and are looking for inspiration.  Enjoy these five books by authors who fell in love with the country.  Read their memoirs and novels to learn the most you can about Spain and understand its cultural aspects before landing. Then, you will have a good idea of how you can make the most of planning your trip to Spain.

1. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises is one of my favorite works from this historic author. It takes place in parts of Spain during the annual running of the bulls festivals of the north; a timeless tradition of Spanish culture which has changed very little.

2. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Fans of Hemingway may want to check out his other famous novel based in Spain, For Whom the Bell Tolls: a story based on Hemingway’s wartime experience covering the Spanish civil war for the North American Newspaper Alliance.

Hemingway is a literary icon with a taste for Spanish culture. Despite his experience being nearly a century on, his words will have you thirsting for Spain.

3. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Lauri Lee

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is Lee’s account of his true backpacking journey. It was written around the same time of Hemingway’s adventures and is one of the best historic representations of the times in Spain.

 Lee’s explorer soul took him across the country during a period of rare peace in Europe. He traveled from the Galician port city of Vigo, over the Sierra de Guadarrama, into Madrid, and along the Costa del Sol. 

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

Goulding provides another well-researched look at what he refers to as his ‘adoptive home’ of Spain in Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture. It provides elements of history as well as information on the Spanish culinary scene. After reading, you will understand just how vast and diversified Spain’s culture is, and you’ll be inspired to traverse the beauty of its natural landscapes.

5. Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela by Conrad Rudolph

One of the most popular things to do in Spain, especially in the summertime, is to take the long walk across the north of the country on the Camino de Santiago. There are several trails that wind their ways through small traditional Spanish towns and across vast landscapes.

 If you are interested in learning more about the Spanish countryside, I highly recommend walking a portion (or all) of one of these historic trails. Before you go, Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela by Rudolph is one of the best resources, as far as insights from experienced hikers goes. It will have you scratching at the bit for the beautiful Spanish culture.

How I was inspired

Spanish culture is often seen as one of the most charming and inviting experiences in Europe. What I learned in these memoirs is that Spain is meant to be truly enjoyed– not from a tourist’s point of view, but from a down-to-earth local side.

I’m glad I visited Spain with a laid-back, slow itinerary. When your trip becomes more focused on sightseeing rather than truly experiencing the culture, you miss out on the deeper experiences that are illustrated in these books.  

This guest post was contributed by Adam Cheshire

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