The best books that capture the magic of Galicia Spain

Who am I?

I have lived in beautiful green Galicia for 14 years and am passionately in love with this undiscovered area of Spain. Whilst writing my own travelogue memoirs, I have avidly researched my adopted country and love nothing more than to travel the area, discovering new delights round each corner. I have discovered that Galicia is not just ‘that wet bit of Spain’ and is in fact a whole world away from the Mediterranean costas of the south with its own language – the language of poets, its own identity, and its very own being. Here I have tried to choose books I feel demonstrate that uniqueness, that special quality which makes Galicia extraordinary.

I wrote...

Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart: A year to write home about - Seeking la vida dulce in Galicia

By Lisa Rose Wright,

Book cover of Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart: A year to write home about - Seeking la vida dulce in Galicia

What is my book about?

Have you ever wanted to leave the rat race, move abroad and live the good life somewhere green and bountiful? Lisa and her partner, the enigmatic S, did just that. In 2007 they left their jobs as newt catchers and their native English shores for beautiful green Galicia in the remote northwest of Spain – a land of mystery and mists, Celtic music and Celtic legends, and a language of its very own. 

Follow one couple’s love affair with this unspoiled region as Lisa and S set to work to self-renovate a derelict farmhouse, whilst trying to become self-sufficient and learn more about this untamed part of the Iberian peninsula. Their story unfolds through Lisa’s letters to her mum, making this truly a series to write home about.

The books I picked & why

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Wonders of Galicia (Maravillas de Galicia)

By Amandine Demarteau, Jose Lourido, Katherine Williams

Book cover of Wonders of Galicia (Maravillas de Galicia)

Why this book?

If there is one book that will make you want to jump on a plane or get in your car and travel to this unique and beautiful corner of Spain, then it’s this one. A sumptuous coffee table book, Maravillas de Galicia introduces the reader to the wonders of Galicia with stunning photography by José Lourido, a Galego himself. More than simply a guide book, Maravillas is a book to be pored over and savoured again and again. 

The book is well laid out in both Spanish and English: There are chapters covering the major Galician cities as well as national parks and bio-reserves, ancient Celtic ruins and Roman monuments, stunning beaches, and picturesque villages. There are maps for each entry and a list of other must see places nearby making this book the perfect starting point to discover everything which Galicia has to offer. And if you can’t get here, you can still stare longingly at the photographs and dream.

The Death of a Pilgrim

By A.D. Thorne,

Book cover of The Death of a Pilgrim

Why this book?

This series of murder mysteries set along the pilgrim’s way, El Camino de Santiago ought to do for Galicia what Montalbano did for Sicily, with beautiful scenery, Galician food, intrigue, and of course, suspicious death.

The stories are interesting and clever but for me it’s the sense of place which really draws me to these books. The author writes with a love for the area which comes alive through her descriptive prose so I can see the places clearly in my mind as I read. Thankfully there are far less murders in Galicia than in A D Thorne’s books but I don’t mind a body or two when the setting is so beautiful.

Everything But the Squeal: A Year of Pigging Out in Northern Spain

By John Barlow,

Book cover of Everything But the Squeal: A Year of Pigging Out in Northern Spain

Why this book?

A Yorkshireman married to a Galega, John Barlow has a unique perspective on Galicia and Galician people. Add to that a wild idea to travel throughout Galicia over the course of a year trying to eat every part of a pig (except the squeal), and you have a book which beautifully evokes the people, the landscape, and especially the gastronomic fiestas of this area. Galicia has traditionally had a heavy reliance on the pig, often grown at home on scraps: Barlow writes with humour and a love of Galician food but he missed out the most famous of all the piggy fiestas… around our own town of Taboada anyway, A Festa do Caldo de ósos. Yum!

Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain

By Annette M. B. Meakin,

Book cover of Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain

Why this book?

Meakin was one of those wonderfully well-travelled Victorian ladies, the early forerunners of the travel writer genre. She visited Galicia in 1907, almost exactly one hundred years before we moved here, yet her descriptions of the Galicia which I love are instantly recognisable. The furze (gorse), still shines from the hillsides; the granite cottages are still there; as are the washing tubs, though less frequently used than in Meakin’s day. The singing cartwheels may be all but gone but the maize fields, the cherry and apple blossoms, and the Gallegans, still remain. One hundred and twenty years on, Meakin would still recognise the Switzerland of Spain.

Cantares Gallegos

By Rosalia de Castro,

Book cover of Cantares Gallegos

Why this book?

To really understand Galicia I feel one needs to read some of the evocative Galician poets. Galicia is a land of poets and of writers, and the Galician language has been associated with poetry since the middle ages. Rosalia de Castro was known as ‘Galicia’s nightingale’ by her biographer Failde, and she loved her homeland with a real passion. This passion shines through in her works, none more so than Cantares Gallegas. Her poems are simply told tales of love and loss, of her beloved country and of her people, which evoke all the senses. Rosalia de Castro died in 1885 but her words are still quoted with passion by Galegos today. I was unable to find an English translation of Cantares Gallegas but if you can read Castro’s works in the original language, then it will give a far greater understanding of this unique land in which I am lucky enough to live.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Galicia Spain, Spain, and gastronomy?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Galicia Spain, Spain, and gastronomy.

Galicia Spain Explore 7 books about Galicia Spain
Spain Explore 120 books about Spain
Gastronomy Explore 9 books about gastronomy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Camino Ingles: 6 days (or less) to Santiago, Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain: The Peasants of Galicia, and The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom if you like this list.