The Caribbean: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Caribbean Islands guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Reading books while lounging on some lovely beach is for many the perfect trip (in addition to a sublime rum punch, of course). One way to extend the joy is to start your Caribbean reading before you go. The following books will inform, entertain and inspire you before and during your trip.

Dead Man in ParadiseDead Man in Paradise: Unraveling a Murder From a Time of Revolution by JB MacKinnon. The author’s uncle was murdered in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. Plunging deep into the countryside, MacKinnon unravels stories of corruption and dictatorship.

The Slave ShipThe Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker. Over three centuries, 12 million Africans were brought to the US and Caribbean as slaves. Few accounts survive, but using existing records Rediker constructs a complete and horrifying picture.

Republic of PiratesThe Republic Of Pirates by Colin Woodard. By the 16th century no ship in the Caribbean was safe from pirates. Woodes Rogers was given the job of wiping them out. He did and Blackbeard lost his head.

BananaBanana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel. Dictators, American marines and slaves helped make the banana the world’s favorite fruit. Its impact on the Caribbean has been enormous and now it faces genetic extinction.

Breath, Eyes, MemoryBreath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. Oprah loved this tale about a girl living a simple life in Haiti, who then goes to live with her mother in New York City. The descriptions of West Indies life are lyrical.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.