Barcelona Books: Fact & Fiction
There are few finer things in life, in our cultured opinion, than reading a great book in the country it was set in. What could be more romantic than taking the Trans-Siberian rail crossing armed with a copy of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina or Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago? How much more fun is it to read Kerouac whilst grappling with your own road trip across the expanses of the United States than in your local library (while irritating children fight over the last copy of Harry Potter)? And which learned traveller would set foot in North Africa without packing a copy of Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky, or maybe even an edition of Herodotus?
On this page we intend to take a look at the great novels and non-fiction written about Barcelona (and more broadly Catalonia and Spain), so that you can enjoy like us the simple pleasure of retiring to a quiet cafe with George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, taking Robert Hughes' superb biography of the city, Barcelona to Barceloneta beach (maybe stopping off at a chiringuito for a mojito and more page turning just for good measure), reclining in the evening sun with a copy of Don Quixote, the masterpiece of Spain's great bard Miguel de Cervantes, in Parc de la Ciutadella, or melting into the furniture of your flat with a volume of Carlos Ruiz Zafron's astonishing The Shadow of the Wind. Pure bliss!
Above: Reading by the Cascada fountain at Barcelona's Citadel Park
As well as reviews of all our favourite novels and non-fiction set in around Barcelona and Spain, we'll also point you in the direction of the best guidebooks to Barcelona as well! Click on the individual titles for full reviews.
The Shadow of the Wind
Probably the most famous and popular work of fiction associated with this city right now, Carlos Ruiz Zafon's storming bestseller is a love letter to both Barcelona and literature itself. The novel's hero, the spunky but naive Daniel Sempere, has a lot of growing up to do as he chases the ghost of Julian Carax around town having discovered the last worldly copy of the missing novelist's masterpiece, The Shadow of the Wind.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Spain's number one scribe sets Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza loose on the Spanish countryside for a romp of epic proportions. Click for full review of the world's first modern novel and its brief, but important, association with Barcelona.
From Barcelona by Jeremy Holland
Published in 2010, From Barcelona: Stories Behind the City is a collection of ten short stories by well-known blogger and writer Jeremy Holland. In this decology of tales the reader encounters everyone from Sant Jordi the Dragon Slayer to Johnny the English teacher, and learns a helluva lot about Barcelona along the way! Full review.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
The 20th century's most influential author, the man who penned Animal Farm and 1984, had his first brushes with Communism in Spain. (In fact he fought for one of the many Communist factions against the fascists). Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell's account of the Spanish Civil War and the small part he played in it. It is remarkable for the author's objectivity in a war where 'the greater good' threatened to kill all semblance of truth. A fascinating insight into the politics of the world's bloodiest century.
Review of Robert Hughes' Barcelona coming soon!
Reviews of Barcelona City Guide by Lonely Planet and more of the best guidebooks by all your favourite publishers coming soon!
Other Books Related to Catalonia/Spain
We'll be adding reviews of books by great Spanish and Catalan authors soon, as well as famous foreign chroniclers - including of course Ernest Hemingway - shortly.
Bookshops in Barcelona
If you're shopping for books about Barcelona, or for English-language literature in general then we can thoroughly recommend you check out the superb second-hand book store that is Hibernian Books.
I would suggest a few more novels set in Barcelona. I would start by City of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza... awesome.
Then Southern Seas by Montalban, In Diamond Square by Merce Rodoreda or Last Afternoons with Teresa by Juan Marse.
I did my own list of best novels set in Barcelona at http://picturesofbarcelona.net/Novels
all the best and congrats for your blog!
reviewed by picturesOFBarcelona from Spain on Jan.22.2013
Don't be hard on yourself, good Editor. I give you a 9 out of 10 for this page - for services 'above and beyond the call of editorial duty' !
reviewed by Mark from United Kingdom on Oct.21.2010
Thanks Mags, Shadow of the Wind duly added. Haven't got round to reading Angel's Game yet but I'll let you know! Crikey, now I've got to rate my own page... hmmm I'll go with a 7.
reviewed by The Editor from Spain on Oct.15.2010
Don't forget The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. So true to life in barcelona that you can actually imagine the characters walking on the streets you are in. And you couold even go up towards Tibidabo and look for the house where the starnge events occurred. His other book The Angel's Game is also set in Barcelona, around the 1920s.
reviewed by Mags from Ireland on Aug.02.2010