Books - Experience, Living and Culture

Books which deal with the issues and experiences of living and moving to Spain and Sevilla. From first person accounts of relocation and travel to buying property, finding work and understanding the culture. I am always looking for new books so if you've read something good please email me your recommendations.

Topics in this section

Travel Experience & Essays

coverSouth from Granada (Kodansha Globe Series)
Known most recently in Spain by the name Al Sur de Granada, a great movie was just made from the book. Based on the formative years of Gerald Brennan's life in a small village in the Sierra Nevadas, it's an interesting look at pueblo life in Andalucia in the 1920's. Aside from the autobiographical nature of the book it offers many cultural, historical and geographical observations. I highly recommend the movie as well as the book, something you can't often do.


cover Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
One of the first books I read once I decided I was heading back to Spain. While certainly a different life than what I planned to lead it was thoroughly entertaining. The author decides to move himself and his wife to a small farm cut-off from much of civilization in the Alpujarras. His adjustment to life, from making friends to learning basic customs of a rural people, show it's not an easy transition. Having hiked through the same mountains it was interesting to read more about the places and people I saw along the way.

Spanish Lessons
Another first person account of moving to Spain, this time on the eastern coast. From finding a house and fixing it up as well as settling in it provides some interesting perspectives on moving to Spain. While I enjoyed parts of the book I kept comparing it to Driving Over Lemons, which I thought was a much more interesting tale of adjusting to life in a new country. Still, the stories are different and each provides a unique look at distinct options of moving to Spain.

cover Spanish Recognitions: The Road from the Past
At the age of 82 Mary Lee Settle left Virginia to explore Spain, looking to confirm stories from friends and guidebooks. Instead she followed two historic routes, often avoiding the tourist destinations on her way to discovering the identity of the Spaniard. Going south to north she retraced the path of the Moorish conquest of Spain. Traveling North to South she followed the footsteps of the Christian Reconquest. A great read by an author know for her fiction, it delves into the nature and character of Spain and the Spaniard.


cover Travelers' Tales Spain: True Stories (Travelers' Tales Guides)
Travel in Spain through the eyes of some of the world's well-known authors, from Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Penelope Casas. Bullfights, flamenco, Don Quijote and simple voyages bring Spain to life as each short story offers a unique perspective. I've enjoyed reading this book little by little, picking a new story every couple of weeks.


Living & Working in Spain

cover Live & Work in Spain and Portugal (Live and Work Abroad Guides)
Important to note that this book is focused on those from the EU, mainly the UK. It's last update was in 1998, so it does not cover the further integration of Spain with the EU or it's adoption of the Euro. It does cover many of the little details about constructing a new life in Spain and offers some insight into the change in culture, although from more of a Europe to Spain standpoint.


cover Living and Working in Spain: Survival Handbook (AVAILABLE USED - hard to find)
A more thorough and up to date handbook by David Hampshire for the move to Spain than the book above. Unfortunately it's only available used at this time. While it is more up to date reader complaints suggest that the section on immigration laws and work permits perhaps need to be updated, as well as some of the observations on Spanish bureaucracy, which is becoming easier to get through now. Notice I say "easier" and not "easy"...

Buying a Home in Spain 2003-2004

Now this book is more recent! Unfortunately it doesn't cover much on working or living and so there remains a need for a good book out there on the subject. But is proves to be very helpful in sorting through the maze of permits, legal jargon and general disorder one feels when purchasing a house in Spain.


cover Buying a Property: Spain
An all-inclusive guide to buying a new home in Spain. Covering just about everything you need to know for planning and executing your purchase, you'll get the details on paper work and contracts, permits, estate agents, renovating, building, legal help, renting for income, profiles of regions and cities and more. Also included are many personal experiences including problems and successes, adjusting to cultural differences, a number of maps and a list of contacts to help you get started.


Understanding Culture


coverThe New Spaniards - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Probably the best book you can read to understand where the Spanish as a people have been and are going in the future. Topics such as women in spain, ETA, regionalism, work, real estate and social and economic policy are well written and without the dry commentary you'd expect on such subjects. Television, radio, eating, drinking and other topics show give you insight into daily, individual life in Spain. I would recommend this as the first book you should read before studying or living here.

cover White Wall of Spain: The Mysteries of Andalusian Culture
A well-written account of three thousand years of Andalusian culture, covering the influences of the Phoenicians and Moors up to more modern figures such as Franco and Picasso. Understand what makes Andalucia a unique province in Spain through analysis of culture, art, religion and commerce. Andalucian cultural influences on Hispanic culture in general are viewed through analysis of writings by historians, poets, writers and archaeologists.

cover Spain: A Quick Guide to Culture and Etiquette (Culture Smart)
A pocket guide to help you understand Spanish society and culture. This comes from a series of guides on many countries, all in a similar format. Topics covered include: how to avoid culture shock (as best you can), Spanish values, historical, cultural and political backgrounds, religion, traditions and customs, spanish home life, dos, don'ts and taboos, body language, food, drink, hospitality and gifts, business etiquette as well as
language and communication. I've yet to get my hands on this book, but hear it is quite helpful.

Discovering Spain: An Uncommon Guide (Discovering Spain)
A different guide geared towards the American traveler in Spain. Get some interesting cultural, historical and of course culinary background of places as well as some often missed sites. Casas has offers a unique insider's view of Spain infused with the American point of view. Beware that her recommendations, while good, are often on the expensive side.


coverCulture Shock Spain
Another book which is part of a series of books on culture shock in many countries. There are some valuable lessons to be learned although the book is just starting to become out of date, and I don't know if it was just my printing of the book but the photos seem old as well.. It provides a good basic background on the history, economy, geography and cultural regionalism of Spain. Many topics are geared toward the future expat or traveling businessman but it is also a valuable resource for tourists and students. Some have criticized the book for some inaccurate stereotypes and the condescending tone. I can understand their points for some sections but it still has some valuable information and points of view you don't see in other books.


cover Passport Spain: Your Pocket Guide to Spanish Business, Customs & Etiquette
As the title suggests this book is aimed at the businessmen. As the Amazon description suggests you should learn about "Filipino culture and values"! Ok, so they got the Spain version confused with another book in the series. This comes from yet another one of those culture series books, but it touches on some important topics of communication which is often left out of the others. General business and everyday etiquette, culture and values are covered, while negotiating and business tactics are helpful when in the business world.


cover Contemporary Spain: A Handbook
A fairly thorough account of Spain with a focus on politics, economy and institutions written in an easy to digest format. Billed as a "valuable book for English-speaking students of Spanish", the book provides a lot of tools that others don't. Each chapter contains a Spanish-English glossary with relevant words as well as suggested readings for those who want more information on specific topics. I haven't read this one yet, but am waiting for a copy, so I'll have more on this one soon.





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Editor: Jeff Spielvogel
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