Last week, we opened the doors of our exquisite new retreat in the Andalusian mountains close to the Costa del Sol. And to help you fully immerse in the local culture, Ultimate Library has curated a selection of 12 books that celebrate both Andalusia and Spain more generally.
Within these pages, you will discover a fascinating fusion of classic literature, contemporary fiction, travel writing, fiction, cookbooks and artistic tomes all carefully curated to transport you to the heart of this remarkable region and beyond its borders. Featuring acclaimed authors like Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and Washington Irving, Karma La Herriza’s extensive library is filled with riveting reads that effortlessly weave together the rich historical and cultural heritage of Andalusía and Spain, painting vivid images in the mind and stirring powerful emotions.
The collection showcases the profound influence of Moorish rule, inviting you to delve into the fascinating history of Granada and the awe-inspiring Alhambra palace. You can also explore the life and works of seminal Malaga-born artist, Pablo Picasso, whose idiosyncratic genius continues to captivate the world.
If you love travelogues, check out Hans Maarten van de Brink’s “Spain: Body and Soul” and Tom Chesshyre’s “Slow Trains Around Spain” both of which offer distinct perspectives on the country. Through their eloquent prose, these authors tale you on a journey through Spain’s quaint cafes, bustling markets, charming towns, and picturesque villages, evoking a sense of wanderlust that is sure to transport you.
For a preview of the library at Karma La Herriza, check out these 12 reviews from Ultimate Library…
1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Don Quixote, enchanted by chivalric romances, becomes a knight errant with his squire, Sancho Panza. Together, they embark on adventurous misadventures, battling windmills and friars, while transforming the Spanish landscape into a fantastical realm. Amidst the chaos, their relationship evolves subtly. Regarded as the inaugural modern novel, Don Quixote humorously parodies the literature that consumes its eccentric protagonist.
2. By the Olive Groves: A Calabrian Childhood by Grazia letto Gillies
Born in 1939 amidst poverty and the ‘Ndrangheta mafia in Calabria’s Aspromonte mountains, a girl’s simple life unfolds against the backdrop of World War II. The kitchen, where her mother Giulia cooks Mediterranean delicacies, becomes the centre of family dramas and joys. Grazia Ietto Gillies, in a heartfelt memoir peppered with her mother’s recipes, reminisces about her Calabrian youth— from sickness and her unique extended family to religious festivities and a chilling encounter with the ‘Ndrangheta. Sixty years later, she realizes that Calabria has forever shaped her life.
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls follows American volunteer Robert Jordan in the Spanish Civil War. Tasked with demolishing a bridge alongside guerrilla fighters, Jordan falls for a Spanish woman and disputes the mission’s risks with the leader. Published in 1940, this influential novel delves into war’s brutality, innocence’s demise, and the significance of life, solidifying its status as a 20th-century masterpiece.
4. Guernica by Dave Boling
In 1935, Miguel Navarro flees conflict with the Spanish Civil Guard in Lekeitio, seeking a fresh start in Guernica, the heart of Basque culture. Once there, he finds more than just a new life- he finds someone to live for, the captivating dancer Miren Ansotegui. Blending history and fiction in a poignant tale of family, love, and tradition in the face of hardship, Dave Boling masterfully portrays the devastating bombing of Guernica by the German Luftwaffe.
5. Pablo Picasso by Markus Müller
Oscar Schürer, the art historian, described Pablo Picasso’s extensive body of work as ambiguous and ground-breaking in 1927. Known as a genius even then, Picasso continued to explore Surrealism and create for another four decades. The remarkable legacy of his talent encompasses countless paintings, drawings, graphics, sculptures, and ceramics. Art historian Markus Müller, drawing from personal connections with the Picasso family, skilfully navigates Picasso’s diverse styles, presents key works, and offers insights into the artist’s dynamic energy. This artist’s monograph, including rare archive sections, unveils hidden treasures seldom seen before.
6. Slow Trains Around Spain: A 3,000-Mile Adventure on 52 Rides by Tom Chesshyre
Tom Chesshyre hits the tracks to take in the country through carriage windows on a series of clattering rides beyond the popular image of “holiday Spain”. From hidden spots in Catalonia, through the plains of Aragon and across the north coast to Santiago de Compostela, Chesshyre continues his journey via Madrid, the wilds of Extremadura, dusty mining towns, the cathedrals and palaces of Valencia and Granada, and finally to Seville, Andalusia’s beguiling capital.
7. Spain – Body and Soul by Hans Maarten van den Brink
‘It is the poetic strength and simplicity of the writing that seduces the reader.’ (The Guardian). Van den Brink’s vibrant portrayal of Spain invites readers to indulge in the country’s culinary pleasures. From Madrid’s shop windows to Barcelona’s markets, the book tantalizes with Serrano ham, sweet cakes, crispy pigs’ ears, and more. With historical insights and personal anecdotes, it sparks a hunger to experience Spain’s culture and traditions first-hand.
8. Iberia by James A. Michener
In his enduring tribute to Spain, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James A. Michener, a global citizen, captures the essence of the country he came to love. Iberia paints a vivid picture of bullfighters, warrior kings, painters, cathedrals, and olive orchards. Michener delves beyond celebrated history, revealing the hidden beauty and congeniality of the people amidst the weight of its past. This passionate and contradictory land is masterfully portrayed by a skilled writer.
9. Sacred Sierra: A Year on a Spanish Mountain by Jason Webster
After 15 years in Spain, Jason Webster and his partner Salud left city life to purchase a dilapidated farmhouse in Castellón. Clueless about farming, they embarked on a journey to realise their dream. With guidance from local farmers and an ancient gardening book, they cleared the land, cultivated olives, harvested expensive truffles, and weathered fierce winds and fires. Amidst the timeless setting, Webster recounts ancient legends and deepens his connection to the mystical life of the Sierra. Sacred Sierra is a captivating tale that will enchant and uplift.
10. Spain: The Monocle Handbook by Tyler Brûlé, Andrew Tuck, and Joe Pickard
Explore Spain’s vibrant destinations with a practical guide that unveils the country’s top places to stay, eat, shop, and visit. From stylish beachside retreats in Costa Brava to family-run tapas restaurants in Andalucía, and buzzing bars in Barcelona, immerse yourself in the local culture. Discover fashion pioneers, contemporary artisans, and innovative chefs. With recommendations for city investments, architecture, and interior design inspiration, this handbook is an essential companion whether you’re planning a short visit or a longer stay in Spain.
11. Dalí: The Paintings by Robert Descharnes and Gilles Néret
Salvador Dalí, renowned painter, sculptor, writer, and filmmaker, was a flamboyant and controversial figure. This book showcases his extensive painted oeuvre, revealing his unique application of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical insights to art. After extensive research, Robert Descharnes and Gilles Néret discovered and included rarely seen paintings, making up nearly half of the illustrations in this book. Explore Dalí’s prolific and enigmatic works that have captivated audiences for decades.
12. Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving
Upon arriving in Granada in 1828, Washington Irving was enchanted by the city’s beauty. While researching a book on the conquest of Granada, he gained access to the neglected Alhambra Palace and became a guest. Immersed in its rich history and folklore, Irving compiled a captivating collection of essays, sketches, and tales, capturing the palace’s half-Spanish, half-Arabic character. This edition offers a must-read selection of Irving’s observations and stories, a treat for Alhambra visitors.