Has anyone read James Michener's Iberia before or after visiting Spain? I'm thinking about tackling it before a trip next May.
Haven't read that one but his other books are great. I've also read many of Edward Rutherfurd's books (ie. Paris, London) before trips and it is so helpful to read it and then go see it! Rutherfurd has a similar writing style with historical, sweeping epic stories.
Iberia is very different from Michener's historical novels. It is not fiction, but rather a loving and detailed account of his experiences there, combined with quirky historical details. A great read, and a great introduction to Spain. I read it before a trip to Spain in 1998, then reread it before a return trip in 2011. Then I bought a paperback copy and tore out the relevant sections for our our trip ( Toledo, Barcelona, Sevilla, Cordoba) to read on the train as we traveled between destinations.
It will add much to the trip to have read the book before you travel. Emphasis is on 'modern' Spain as I recall....When you return, Don Quixote might be on your list The geography described in the book will come alive.....
I recently loaded Iberia on my IPad. I have read most of it already, but I am bringing it along on my trip that begins in Madrid next Monday and I intend to read the appropriate chapters when i am in those locales.
Read Iberia to gain a better understanding of the cultural composition of the many different people within Spain. Read it to establish benchmarks on what you find while visiting sites he visited and strive to set your mind from the perspective he viewed during his journeys. Keep in mind the author was an orphan who grew up in PA and set about hitchhiking across the USA at a very young age and the depth of his intellect and comprehension was breathtaking. He was a great listener, easy to approach and was the original "back door" traveler.
Haven't read this one but I looked it up and he had me at the first sentence! Sound like a great read...
Iberia was good, and I recommend this one as well -- The New Spaniards by John Hooper.
Thanks everyone for your input. Iberia will be my next read.
I am headed to Spain this weekend and I started reading Iberia last week and plan on taking it on the plane. I am enjoying it. I read his Hawaii when I went there and it greatly added to my enjoyment of the trip. Go for it!
I read "Iberia" before a recent 3 week trip to Spain, and found it very insightful. "Iberia" was on my e-reader, so I was able to consult it while traveling. The latest edition of "The New Spaniards" was also worthwhile reading before the trip. If you are planning a visit to Barcelona, Robert Hughes book is worth reading (although sometimes his opinions get in the way).
I really enjoyed "Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell. It's a first person account of his time in Spain during the Civil War. He went to Barcelona as reporter to cover the war, joined one of the communist brigades, fought against Franco's troops, was wounded in action and finally fled the country. I thought it gave great context for a war that shaped Spain.
Orwell actually joined one of the anarchist militia units in 1936. It was after the communists assumed control of the army/government in early 1937 (accusing the anarchists of being "Trotskyites") that Orwell was forced to flee from Spain back to England. But I certainly agree that this is a great book to read in advance of a Spanish trip.