The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Reading pretty much anything by Ernest Heminway before going to Spain is a great way to understand a bit more about Madrid, as Hemingway himself spent quite a bit of time there writing many of his manuscripts. In The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway mentions famous Madrid haunts like the Palace Hotel and Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, in his story about English-speaking expats who travel from Paris to Spain.
Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett
Madrid’s history may be just a little bit easier to understand if you’re familiar with Spain’s complicated past. Reading Ghosts of Spain will help you to understand just a bit more about the Spanish Civil War, ETA, the Basque terrorist group and the feud between Catalunya and the rest of Spain – ensuring you visit Madrid fully informed.
Winter in Madrid by C. J. Sansom
Winter in Madrid is a fictional story about a British man sent to Madrid during the Spanish Civil War to be a spy. Although Winter in Madrid is fiction, many parts of the book are based on real life events. A small section at the back of the book explains which parts are real and which parts are fiction.
Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
An intriguing story of some crazy youths who flee to Spain after sex and suicide scandals, Story of the Eye isn’t a book for the faint of heart. Those interested in bullfighting may appreciate the fact that parts of the story take place at the bullring in Madrid, but get ready for a little gore.
The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston
While this book isn’t directly related to Madrid, The Spanish Holocaust will help you to understand Spain’s torrid history. Many believe Spain today is a direct result of the atrocities once committed during the Spanish Civil War, so understanding a bit more about the history will give you an insight into present day Spain.
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
This novel is about an American poet doing a fellowship in Madrid. The book, which speaks of the struggles the poet has living abroad due to the language barrier, politics and more, has plenty of detail about the city of Madrid. Anyone planning to study there or even just visit can learn quite a bit of information about the city from Leaving the Atocha Station.