Summer is coming, and we are finally  going to take some days off.  It has been two years without visiting the beach ( I hate COVID).  This is normally the time of the year when I read the most. I love laying my towel on the sand and letting myself go in the tales someone has written. Call me old fashion, but I prefer paper over Kindle.  

Unfortunately here in the Basque Country, there is not written literature until the XVIII century, our culture has always been transmitted orally. Thank God that by the XIX century, we started translating books into Basque language and then we started to write books in Basque.

Here is a selection of five books that are based in the Basque Country. 

Our selection of books to understand Basques

Zalacain, el aventurero  by  Pio Baroja

Available on Amazon

Considered as one of the best 100 Spanish books of all times, this book talks about the adventures lived by a young Basque man, Martín Zalacain. It talks about love, war, youth, etc… all in a claustrophobic  society of a small village in the Basque Country.

I remember this book from my childhood. It is the kind of novel your grandma reads to you when you start to discover the world.

Obabakoak  by  Bernardo Atxaga

Available on Amazon.

This is the top seller book written in Basque, it has been translated to many languages. It talks about an invented Basque village named Obaba, where reality and fantasy live together. The book shares 26 independent stories, much more like “The Canterbury Tales” on the “Decameron” at the end of the book you have a very good perspective of the village.

I personally recommend you read this book slowly, one story per day, let it settle. This way you will create your own Obaba. 

Here in the Basque Country it is mandatory to read Obabakoak when you are in highschool. We all loved it!

The invisible Guardian  by Dolores Redondo

Available on Amazon

This is not one book, in fact, it is a trilogy. In the three books, a police officer (Amaya Salazar) looks for a serial killer in the Baztan Valley (Basque Country). Our ancient mythology is part of the threat in the books. 

I promise that once you start reading, you will not be able to stop. They really are engaging. If I have to be honest,  to me the second book in the trilogy is a bit weaker than the other two.

Patria (Homeland) by  Fernando Aramburu

Available on Amazon

This one is not an easy book to read, at least it was not easy for me. It talks about the ETA terrorist movement here in the Basque Country. It describes perfectly what I lived when I was a kid. The fear of the mothers, the deaths, the bombs… It is a great book, but it might not be an easy summer reading.

As this book has been so successful in Spain, NETFLIX has made a TV series of it. Worth watching! 

The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation – Mark Kurlansky

Available on Amazon

I like this book a lot, because the Basque culture is explained from the viewpoint of an outsider. Yes, it is a bit too romanticized, but non the less it shares the essence of our culture. It touches history, gastronomy, traditions, etc… I really recommend this book if you are planning to come over here and want to make the best of your holidays in the Basque Country.

I hope you have a great summer full of incredible books!

If you are thinking about discovering the Basque Country in person, take a look at our Basque Country tour.