Background reading 
South from Granada by Gerald Brenan 
Gerald Brenan is regarded as the greatest English writer about Spain.  The essence of a remote rural area before the Civil War is described from a position of deep and sympathetic understanding.  The festivals and folk-lore of the Sierra Nevada, the rivalry, romances and courtship rituals, village customs, superstitions and characters are brought back to life.  Granada in the twenties, the cheap brothels and archeaogical remains of Almeria, the stark and haunting mountain scenery, along with the visit from Virginia Woolf make it a richly evocative account of a lost way of life. 
Driving over Lemons by Chris Stewart 
An international best seller and book to charm you from start to finish!  Chris transports you to Las Alpujarras, an oddball region south of Granada, and into a series of adventures with an engaging mix of peasant farmers and shepherds, New Age travellers and ex-pats.  The hero of the piece is the farm that he and Ana bought, El Valero, a patch of mountain studded with olive, almond and lemon groves, sited on the wrong side of the river, with no access road, water supply or electricity.  Chris Stewart is indeed the eternal optimist. 
Parrott in the Pepper Tree by Chris Stewart 
Three years on, Parrot in the Pepper Tree follows the lives of Chris, Ana and their daughter, Chloë, on their farm, as they get to grips with a misanthropic parrot who joins their home, Spanish school life, neighbours in love, journalists beating a path to their door.... and the shock of discovering that their beloved valley might once more be under threat of being engulfed by a dam. 
As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning 
(My favourate!) 1n 1934 a 19 year old Laurie Lee leaves home to walk to Spain.  Equipped only with a violin and his wits, he walks through the dramatic landscape of what was then a medieval Spain.  Moment of War describes his return to Spain in 1937 to join the International Brigade at the outbreak of civil War. His autobiographical accounts, including Cider with Rosie, are contained in the trilogy, Red Sky at Sunrise. 
The Alhambra by Robert Irwin 
This book, published on 5th January 2004, is about the cultural history of the Alhambra.  Depicting the architecture, politics, mysticism, mathematics and tourism this book is the complete guide to the Red Fort and medieval Islam. 
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving 
In 1812 the Alhambra was taken and occupied by Napolean's forces who looted and damaged whole sections of the palace.  On their retreat from the city they tried to blow up the entire complex, but mercifully their attempt was foiled by a crippled soldier who stayed behind and removed the fuses. Twenty years later the Alhambra was "rediscovered" and the American writer, Washington Irving, gave the project new momentum when he established himself in the palace rooms to write his wonderfully romantic Tales of the Alhambra. 
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