A Literary Guide to Barcelona

Clare Furniss, the author of the incredible ‘Year of the Rat’ and ‘How Not to Disappear’, haS written up everything we bookish people need to know when embarking on a trip the gorgeous Spanish city of Barcelona. 

I’m a city girl at heart and Barcelona is like no other city. It’s got everything – culture, buzzing night life, delicious food, sandy beaches… It also has a rich literary heritage, not to mention many opportunities for the visiting booklover to part with their Euros. And when you’ve bought your books there are plenty of sunny squares lined with cafes and palm trees where you can settle down to read or write.


Books set in Barcelona


‘Homage to Catalonia’ by George Orwell

George Orwell’s classic account of his experiences of fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

‘The South’ by Colm Toibin

Set in the 1950s this tells the story of Katherine who leaves Ireland and her family and seeks a new life as an artist in Barcelona.

‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A Gothic thriller featuring a secret labyrinthine library, a long-forgotten book, an author shrouded in mystery, obsession, love, and the darker side of Barcelona.

‘In Diamond Square’ by Merce Rodoreda

Set in 1930s Barcelona and originally written in Catalan, ‘In Diamond Square’ tells the moving story of Natalia whose husband goes off to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

colmtoibin_raptoresquireAuthors who live in Barcelona

Irish author Colm Toibin who wrote ‘Brooklyn’ among many other wonderful novels lived in Barcelona for several years and this inspired two of his books – ‘Homage to Barcelona’, a celebration of the city, and ‘The South’.


Favourite bookstores


La Central del Raval

A huge, airy, beautiful bookshop in El Raval, the hipster part of town just off La Ramblas with lots of vintage stores, art galleries and trendy bars to pop into when you’ve bought your books. La Central has books on all subjects and in several languages too. I found a few English editions of books about Barcelona while I was there this summer, as well as a copy of my own book The Year of The Rat in Spanish in their amazing children’s and young adult section!


Another gorgeous bookshop, this time in the shopping district near to all the designer fashion stores… I popped into Laie for some cheaper retail therapy instead. Again there was a great variety of books and lovely themed displays. Just to add to the experience there’s a beautiful cafe and restaurant on the upper floor of the store, where you can enjoy the books you’ve just bought over coffee and cakes, or if you prefer tapas and a glass of wine… This definitely is my kind of bookstore!

Second-hand bookstores

There are many second-hand bookstores in Barcelona, especially in the maze of narrow medieval streets in the Gothic Quarter. This one was just down the street from where I stayed on my last trip and sold prints and old postcards as well as books. It also had a very beautiful shop cat who kept a close eye on all visitors!

Best places to write in Barcelona


Placa del Pi

Café culture is huge in Barcelona and for me there’s really nowhere better to write than one of Barcelona’s dozen’s of beautiful squares, dotted with tables and umbrellas where you can settle down with a cold drink and a notepad. Placa del Pi in the Gothic Quarter is perfect for people-watching, which of course is how so many characters are born…

La Granja

If you happen to be in Barcelona on a rainy day, never fear. It’s the perfect excuse to grab your laptop or notebook and head to one of the city’s old coffee shops for ‘xocolat y xurros’ – delicious rich, thick hot chocolate and hot fried churros for dipping. La Granja is one of my favourites.

Grab your copy of ‘How Not to Disappear’ right here

Have you been to Barcelona? Tell us about your trip in the comments below.

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Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

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