To learn more about Barcelona, the distinctive Catalan city that is hosting the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, try one or more of these books: DISCOVERING SPAIN: AN UNCOMMON GUIDE. By Penelope Casas, Alfred A. Knopf, $20 paper

Savory asides about regional cuisine punctuate cookbook author Penelope Casas's account of Barcelona as well as Spain's diverse regions. CITIES OF SPAIN. By David Gilmour, Ivan R. Dee, $22.50 cloth

The history of Spain is rendered through its metropolises. A readable first-timer's introduction. BARCELONAWALKS. By George Semler, Henry Holt & Co., $12.95 paper

Describes five informative, street-level tours through neighborhoods that exemplify the city's present and past. WALKS IN PICASSO'S BARCELONA. By Mary Ellen Jordan Haight and James J. Haight, Gibbs Smith, $12.95 paper

Emphasizes the area's unique art and architecture familiar not only to Picasso but also to Salvador Dali and Antoni Gaudi. BARCELONAS. By Manuel Vazquez Montalban, Translated by Andrew Robinson Verso, $34.95 cloth

This critical, gritty, rewarding insider's history of the city and its art is by a prominent journalist and novelist. The preface preserves the scuttlebutt one hears in Barcelona about the Games. BARCELONA. By Robert Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, $27.50 cloth

By turns swaggering and silky, this is an irresistible history by the author of "The Shock of the New." (Reviewed March 30, 1992.)

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