Reading lists

9 of the best books set in Spain

We love Spain for its sun, sand and Sangria. But it's also the perfect setting for a novel. These are our top picks...

Donna Mackay-Smith
Image showing three of the best books set in Spain: Retreat to the Spanish Sun, Sleeping Arrangements and Origin
Image credit: Flynn Shore/Penguin

It’s the country that made the mid-afternoon holiday siesta fashionable. And that’s before we’ve mentioned the sun, sea and sand of those rolling Mediterranean beaches. What’s not to love about Spain?

Holiday season has well and truly arrived, so whether you’re packing your bags for a Spanish getaway or simply seeking a literary escape, we’ve got just the book for you. From sun-kissed rom-coms to world-class translated fiction, the following novels offer up the perfect slice of that scorching Spanish culture.

Life always got in the way for Eliza, but a housesitting job in rural Andalucía offers a fresh start away from the demands of her family. This is a sun-drenched read, laden with mouth-watering tapas, that shows it’s never too late to say ‘Hola’ to a brand-new chapter.

Origin by Dan Brown (2017)

Enigmatic Harvard professor Robert Langdon travels to the prestigious Guggenheim in Bilbao to learn of a groundbreaking discovery. Expect conspiracy theories and codes that need cracking, as religion and science unexpectedly collide – but not before Brown takes readers on a whistle-stop tour of Barcelona’s most iconic sights, from Gaudi’s Casa Mila to Sagrada Família.

Hannah gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she’s offered a month-long trip to the idyllic village of Mojácar to film a documentary, with her work crush in tow. If only her colleagues would stop getting in the way… Expect Sangria, paella, and a hearty dollop of romance.

Sleeping Arrangements by Sophie Kinsella (writing as Madeleine Wickham)

It’s the dream getaway: a luxurious villa in the Spanish mountains, complete with a private pool. But disaster strikes when two families realise they are double-booked. As the temperature rises, tensions flare and unresolved feelings surface. This is a lighthearted read from Madeleine Wickham, who also writes as Sophie Kinsella.

In Gabriela Ybarra’s work of autofiction, she weaves together the tragedies that define her life: the 1970s kidnapping and murder of her grandfather in the Basque region of Spain, and the painful loss of her mother to cancer. Told through striking, pared-back prose, this is a poignant unravelling of the past.

A Secret Service member is brought out of retirement in Madrid for one final gig, where he must eliminate a deadly terrorist. There are three suspects who, in turn, become lover, colleague and friend. This is a thrilling tale of espionage from the greatest Spanish writer of his generation.

A mother and daughter visit the sun-baked village of Almeria, in search of a cure for a mystery illness. Bordered by the arid desert on one side and the deep blue of the Med on the other, their familial bonds are tested to the limits in Levy’s beguiling read.

The Spanish master of literature takes readers into the beating heart of his home country, where a shocking suicide in Madrid exposes a family’s dark secrets. Told across generations, Javier Marías’ novel is a meditation on life and love, written in the author’s unique echoing prose.

In 1935, a wide-eyed Laurie Lee set off to walk Spain, journeying from Galicia through Madrid and Seville to the Andalusian coast – with little more than the clothes on his back. His memoir is an illuminating account of time and place, in a country on the cusp of Civil War.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more