Puerto Rico: travel books to read before you go

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

Probably the best and most evocative fictional account of Puerto Rico at an important turning point in its history is The Rum Diary by the late Hunter S Thompson. Although written in the early ’60s, it wasn’t published until the late ’90s, and follows the capers of an expatriate journalist caught in a culture of corruption, jealousy and excessive alcohol consumption.

Stories from Puerto Rico by Robert L Muckley and Adela Martinez- Santiago will fill you in on how the natives discovered the Spaniards weren’t Gods, and other local legends.

Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings – An Anthology by Roberto Santiago showcases the very best Puerto Rican writers from modern to colonial times.

Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity by Juan Flores dissects in greater detail the Puerto Rican struggle to define and maintain indigenous identities as the island becomes more homogeneous. Flores also wrote From Bomba to Hip-Hop, a wide-ranging series of essays.

The following titles are rather difficult to get hold of, but are well worth a read if you do manage to find a copy.

Puerto Rico Mio: Four Decades of Change is a sizable picture book by Jack Delano, who has been photographing Puerto Rico since 1941; Stan Steiner’s The Islands: The Worlds of the Puerto Ricans stands out for its vivid evocation of islanders and their anecdotal histories; and The Other Puerto Rico, by Kathryn Robinson, depicts the island through the eyes of a keen naturalist.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found on lonelyplanet.com.