10 books like Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain

By Annette M. B. Meakin,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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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)

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…

Wonders of Galicia (Maravillas de Galicia)

By Amandine Demarteau, Jose Lourido, Katherine Williams

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wonders of Galicia (Maravillas de Galicia) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Death of a Pilgrim

By A.D. Thorne,

Book cover of The Death of a Pilgrim

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.

The Death of a Pilgrim

By A.D. Thorne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Death of a Pilgrim as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two years previously Richard's quick thinking and brave action had prevented a bomb blast which would have killed schoolchildren and politicians. A second blast injured him and caused the death of his wife. Unable, physically and emotionally, to continue his police career, he retreated to a cottage in rural Galicia and opened up a small gallery to sell his watercolour paintings, putting his past life firmly behind him. One morning, he finds an English pilgrim murdered in front of his gallery. Once her identity becomes known he is forced to face his past and the truth he has been running…


Everything But the Squeal

By John Barlow,

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

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!

Everything But the Squeal

By John Barlow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything But the Squeal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Barlow, self-confessed glutton, found himself in a tricky situation: living in one of the most meat-loving places on earth, married to a vegetarian.  The Barlows live in Galicia, the misty-green northwest corner of Spain, and home to a population that reveres and consumes every part of the pig. This gets Barlow thinking about the nature of our relationship with food—what’s delicious, what’s nasty, and what sort of obligation we have to the animals we eat. Over the course of one glorious, bilious year, Barlow vows to eat everything but the squeal.  In his travels, Barlow takes part in the…


Cantares Gallegos

By Rosalia de Castro,

Book cover of Cantares Gallegos

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…

Cantares Gallegos

By Rosalia de Castro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cantares Gallegos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Escrito en gallego, este libro marca con paso fuerte la literatura de un pueblo. Los Cantares gallegos arrancan de la imitación y de la glosa, entroncando con los viejos poemas de lírica galaico-portuguesa medieval, para cumplir un objetivo concreto: cantar a Galicia, sus paisajes y tierras, sus rías y romerías, sus foliadas y costumbres, sus antiguas tradiciones y sus mitos campesinos.


Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain

By Allyson M. Poska,

Book cover of Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain: The Peasants of Galicia

This book centers the experience of global empire on the ordinary women left behind in northwest Spain. In many parts of the peninsula, the empire was felt most acutely and at the day-to-day level through absence: Galicia, in particular, had extremely high levels of male migration, creating communities dominated by women. Drawing upon court cases, marriage contracts, testaments, and Inquisition records, Allyson Poska shows how peasant women seized legal and social power in the sometimes-permanent absence of their spouses, eschewing norms on sexuality, property, and family.

Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain

By Allyson M. Poska,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While scholars have marvelled at how accused witches, mystical nuns, and aristocratic women understood and used their wealth, power, and authority to manipulate both men and institutions, most early modern women were not privileged by money or supernatural contacts. They led the routine and often difficult lives of peasant women and wives of soldiers and tradesmen. However, a lack of connections to the typical sources of authority did not mean that the majority of
early modern women were completely disempowered.

Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain explores how peasant women in Galicia in north-western Spain came to have significant…


The Camino Ingles

By Susan Jagannath,

Book cover of The Camino Ingles: 6 days (or less) to Santiago

For anyone who would like to walk the Camino Ingles (the 'Short Camino' - or the 'Road less traveled by'), Susan Jagannath's book is the ideal companion.

I liked the way she began each chapter with an apt quotation. In addition to encouraging and motivating the reader to undertake this journey, she provides much practical advice about planning and preparation, and then proceeds to describe her own journey along this ‘One Week Camino’ together with a lot of useful information about places to stay and things to see as well as addresses, phone numbers, and webpages. The e-book is regularly updated – which makes it essential reading for the prospective pilgrim

The Camino Ingles

By Susan Jagannath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Camino Ingles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE 2022 UPDATE

Are you thinking of walking a Camino? But a bit overwhelmed by the thought of the Camino Frances? Walk the Ingles, the shorter, sweeter, safer, and just as authentic hike in a post-pandemic world.

Get checklists, printables and fully updated information sheets on the "new normal" from the reader bonuses.

The Camino Inglés is a smart choice if you want to walk in 2022.

The Camino Inglés spans one province, Galicia, and its capital is Santiago de Compostela, the hallowed goal of the centuries-old pilgrimage. The Cathedral is now open to visitors and pilgrims.

Did you want…


History in the Making

By J.H. Elliott,

Book cover of History in the Making

John Elliott is a world-class historian of Spain and its Empire, his reflections on how to write history without becoming immersed in jargon or obscure theories are beautifully woven into the story of how he himself learned the craft of writing clear, accessible, and original works of history, taking the reader from Cambridge to Franco’s Spain. This is a charming book with a valuable message.

History in the Making

By J.H. Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History in the Making as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eminent historian offers rare insight into his craft and the way it has changed over his lifetime

From the vantage point of nearly sixty years devoted to research and the writing of history, J. H. Elliott steps back from his work to consider the progress of historical scholarship. From his own experiences as a historian of Spain, Europe, and the Americas, he provides a deft and sharp analysis of the work that historians do and how the field has changed since the 1950s.

The author begins by explaining the roots of his interest in Spain and its past, then…


The Ornament of the World

By María Rosa Menocal,

Book cover of The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

If there’s only one that I could recommend, it’s this brilliant, beautiful, and vexing book by María Rosa Menocal, Sterling Professor at Yale University. In a compelling and artful manner, Menocal tells the story of medieval Spain from the arrival of the first Umayyad rulers to Cervantes. Beyond being a useful introduction to the fascinating history, Menocal makes the argument that a culture of tolerance existed in medieval Spain, one that transcended religious and ethnic differences. The principal engine of this culture, she suggests, was the Arabic language. Menocal’s book has received as much praise as criticism, a testament to its enduring power and the contentious quality of medieval Spain.

The Ornament of the World

By María Rosa Menocal,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Ornament of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rich and thriving culture where literature, science and religious tolerance flourished for 700 years is the subject of this enthralling history of medieval Spain.

Living side by side in the Andalusian kingdoms, the 'peoples of the book' produced statesmen, poets and philosophers who influenced the rest of Europe in dramatic ways, giving it the first translations of Plato and Aristotle, love songs and secular poetry plus remarkable feats of architecture and technology. This evocative account explores the lost history whose legacy and lessons have a powerful resonance in today's world.


Reinhart Wolf

By F. Chueca Goitia,

Book cover of Reinhart Wolf: Castillos

I had already included some Spanish castles in my project when I heard about the Reinhard Wolf book and discovered his unsettling pictures. This German artist had photographed the same castles half a century before me, using the same analogic films and the same traditional view cameras, composing frames that I had reproduced without knowing his work. It seems that buildings, like human beings, have a good profile which a photographer cannot miss. The other surprise came from the unexpected feeling that my photographs had been shot prior to Reinhart Wolf’s. Because the castles had meantime been restored, their walls being refreshed, the course of time seemed reversed: they appeared in an earlier condition through my camera than photographed 50 years before, when partly ruined. Having in mind that photography is much about time and traces, the discovery was puzzling. By chance the scope of my personal project was not…

Reinhart Wolf

By F. Chueca Goitia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reinhart Wolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Visigoths in History and Legend

By J.N. Hillgarth,

Book cover of The Visigoths in History and Legend

The Visigothic kingdom of Spain was long dismissed in older books as a barbaric backwater, the darkest point of the so-called Dark Ages. Yet it was, in truth, a vibrant cultural centre for more than two centuries, until falling to the forces of Islam in 711. Hillgarth’s fascinating book gives an excellent short survey of Visigothic history, and then explores how the legends surrounding the Goths were developed and exploited by later Spanish generations, from the Christian Reconquista and the sixteenth-century Golden Age to modern times. This creation of an idealized Gothic past provided inspiration and a sense of identity in Spain, in sharp contrast to Italy where the Goths were depicted during the Renaissance as the savage destroyers of classical civilization.

The Visigoths in History and Legend

By J.N. Hillgarth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Visigoths in History and Legend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book explores one of the central myths of Spain: the idea that Spanish culture arose from that of the Visigoths. It begins with a sketch of Visigothic history, then proceeds to explore attitudes towards the Goths and legends and myths that developed around them from late antiquity to the twentieth century; such ideas proved influential among those who saw the Goths as their spiritual, if not literal, ancestors. The focus is on the myth of the Goths as expressed in literature of a broadly historical nature; many authors have played a significant role in forming and shaping this myth,…


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