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RECOMMENDED READING 
  • Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving. Irving's dreamlike description of Spain's Granada and the beautiful Moorish castle remains one of the most entertaining travelogues ever written. The narrative is a heady mix of fact, myth, and depictions of secret chambers, desperate battles, imprisoned princesses, palace ghosts, and fragrant gardens, described in a wistful and dreamlike eloquence.
  • Andalus by Jason Webster. For centuries, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in Spain side by side in peace, and it was home to some of the greatest minds in the world. After the Moors' expulsion in the seventeenth century, much of their knowledge, skill and artistry was lost. Jason Webster, a qualified Arabist who came to Spain to play the flamenco guitar, embarks on a quest for Spain's forgotten Arab legacy and gets embroiled with wild and original characters.
  • Cathedral of the Sea: A Novel by Ildefonso Falcones. A thrilling historical novel of hope and revenge, love and war, set in the golden age of 14th-century Barcelona. Arnau, a member of the powerful guild of stone-cutters, works on the magnificent cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar, as his brother becomes a priest. Arnau falls in love with a forbidden woman, and when he is betrayed and hauled before the Inquisitor, he finds himself face-to-face with his own brother.
  • Almond Blossom Appreciation Society by Chris Stewart. In this sequel to 'Lemons' and 'Parrot', Chris Stewart's optimism and zest for life is infectious as he continues to relate his experiences living with his family on a Spanish farm.  Find yourself laughing out loud as Chris is instructed by his daughter on local teenage mores, bluffs his way in art history to millionaire Bostonians, is rescued off a snowy peak by the Guardia Civil and joins an Almond Blossom Appreciation Society. 
  • Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stewart. A funny, generous, wonderfully written account of a family making a life and home on a remote but enchanting sheep farm in southern Spain. A perpetual optimist whose skill as a sheepshearer provides an ideal entrée into his new community, Stewart also has an unflappable spirit that nothing can diminish.
  • The Sierras of the South by Alastair Boyd. This book is a celebration of the unique character and beauty of the Andalusian hinterland, but it has wider implications. Has this mountainous community the will and the capacity to preserve its human scale and diversity? For how long can this latter-day Arcadia resist the advance of conformity and indiscriminate development? And do the Arcadians themselves want to resist it?
  • South from Granada by Gerald Brenan. This autobiographical book, first published in 1957, is a fine example of travel literature. Brenan, a member of the Bloomsbury Group who lived in Andalusia in the 1920s, describes local customs and cuisine as well as visits to his home by Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, and Dora Carrington. Brenan's beautifully simple prose never feels hurried as it perfectly suits the observations of the simple life he describes.
  • Getting to Manana by Miranda Innes. Tired of urban living, her career, and her partner, an editor decides to change her life and buys a romantic ruin set amid the olive groves of Andalusia.  What she thought would be an idyllic life is complicated by colorful characters and unexpected developments, creating a humorously chaotic narrative that ultimately stands as a love affair with Spain.
RECOMMEDNED VIEWING 
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown by Pedro Almodvar. After being dumped by her lover, Iván (Fernando Guillén), Pepa (Carmen Maura) finds her life, and the lives of those around her, spiraling out of control in this madcap farce from acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. As Pepa tries to contact Iván, her friend Candela (María Barranco) reveals her involvement with a terrorist, Iván's wife visits with loaded guns, and Iván is about to board a plane that Candela's boyfriend plans to hijack.
  • Solas (2000) by Benito Zambrano. As her husband recuperates in a local hospital, a mother (Maria Galiana) must stay at the home of her estranged daughter, Maria (Ana Fernandez), who left home years ago because she was fed up with the way her father treated her mother, and the passivity her mother displayed in return. Before long, Maria realizes that her mother is, in fact, a strong and kindhearted woman, and the damaged bond between mother and daughter is strengthened.
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) by Woody Allen. Javier Bardem stars in this Golden Globe-winning dramedy from legendary director Woody Allen as a flamboyant painter who finds himself in the middle of a unique relationship with Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson), a pair of American tourists. Penélope Cruz earned her first Oscar for her portrayal of Bardem's insanely jealous ex-wife, Maria Elena, whose emotional instability leads her to her former lover's guest room.
  • Biutiful (2010) by Alejandro Iñárritu. Diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, Uxbal (Javier Bardem), a divorced father raising two children, is determined to atone for his life as a black marketeer in this engrossing character study that unfolds in the slums of Barcelona, Spain. Co-starring Maricel Álvarez as Uxbal's estranged wife, director Alejandro González Iñárritu's haunting tale received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Foreign Language Film.

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