Many writers have chosen Barcelona as the backdrop to their novel over the years and many have written guides to its streets, its secrets and its past. And it is true that Spain’s cultural capital lends well to the page: from historical dramas, post-war sagas and tales of the Barcelona bourgeoisie to anecdotes, ghost stories and legends.
We’ve compiled this list of 8 books for you to discover another side of Barcelona: these novels will take you back in time to the Barcelona of the past, uncover its secrets and help you get to know its people and its culture.
Perfect for enjoying a beer or coffee on a sun-drenched terrace, when topping up your tan at the beach or on your journey to Barcelona. Just sit back and enjoy this literary tour of Spain’s cultural capital with these 8 books set in Barcelona.
The City of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza
Set during the years between Barcelona’s Universal Expositions (1886–1926), we follow the footsteps of the protagonist Onofre Bouvil – an immigrant, deliverer of anarchist propaganda and hair-tonic seller. In a Barcelona on the cusp of cultural evolution, discover how this ordinary man’s ambition takes him to powerful heights.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This bestselling novel and first of the Cemetery of Forgotten books trilogy is set in a 1945 Barcelona. It is in this cemetery that the novel’s protagonist finds an unusual book that is to change life as he knows it.
What’s more, fans of the saga can visit the parts of Barcelona that inspired Zafón’s stories on one of the many “Shadow of the Wind” literary tours that take place around the city.
The Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
This historical drama set in 14th-century Barcelona takes readers on a journey through the construction of the city’s magnificent Santa María del Mar cathedral. A gripping tale of love, family and revenge, we’re sure you won’t be able to put it down.
The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda
Written during her time of exile from Catalonia, Mercé Rodoreda’s bestseller is written in an unusual stream of consciousness style. This powerful and incredibly moving book tells the tale of normal girl named Natalia – known as La Colometa– during the civil war and post-war in Barcelona. In Catalan the book is named after Gràcia’s “Plaça del Diamant” which can be visited today.
We Had Won the War by Esther Tusquets
This bestselling novel set in post-Civil War Barcelona uncovers a perspective that is often excluded from Spanish war narrative: that of the winners. Through the author’s own memoir, she relates her experience of growing up among the Francoist bourgeoisie and her struggle to find her own place.
I’ll Give You the Earth by Chufo Llorens
This story of a young peasant boy set within the city walls paints a picture of medieval Barcelona. Discover this story of impossible love, passion, ambition and betrayal in the 11thcentury.
Un senyor de Barcelona (A Gentleman of Barcelona) by Josep Pla
Available only in Catalan and Spanish, this biography by Josep Pla relates the life of Rafael Puget, a member of the Barcelona bourgeoisie through family portraits, anecdotes and memories.
Mysteries of Barcelona by Ernesto Milá
This non-fiction guide uncovers long-lost facts and secrets of Barcelona. Divided into three sections that cover places, people and unusual traditions, this book is perfect for those who are looking to discover the other side of Barcelona.
We love reading about this wonderful city and we hope you also enjoy discovering its long-lost stories and uncovering its many secrets. Tell us, what’s your favourite book about Barcelona?