Anyone with a keen interest in Spain will probably have a reasonably sized library of books, both historical and contemporary.
Mine is forever growing, though these days more digitally than physically. I tend to find myself attracted to those books that not only inform, but empower in some way too - such as 'The Disinherited' by Henry Kamen. This is a fascinating account of the history of Spain from the point of view of its exiles - and although politically a tad bias, it is nevertheless surprisingly informative and portrays a history of Spain rarely told through conventional historical accounts. How's this for an example from the chapter on Jewish Exiles:
Around 1900 over 12% of the population of Bulgaria spoke judeoespañol and nearly 50% of the population of Turkey.
Or this one from the chapter on the Muslim Exiles:
From the 1570's the Christians took steps to prohibit regular washing and bathing (a practice associated with the Moors) on the grounds that it denoted heresy.
There are other categories of books that fascinate me, such as contemporary accounts of places I know little about. One such book is Mathew Hirtes guide book Going Local in Gran Canaria, a place I have yet to visit. Mathew's book not just guides, but does so from a perspective of someone who knows Spain. Take this simple bit of advice for example regarding selecting a place to eat:
...if you see more native diners in a venue that tourists, you can assume this is a restaurant steeped in authenticity. Either that or its cheap.
For lets face it, these days facts and listings about any location can be downloaded from umpteen web sites for free. But if you want to know more than just a phone number or address, if you want to know 'why' rather than just 'what'...then you need to ask someone who knows. And Matthew Hirtes is just that man.
This guide book does just what a good guide book should do: Inform, explain, entertain, and in the very best of cases - as with Going Local In Gran Canaria - even inspire."