South Pacific: travel books to read before you go

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

There are many excellent books that have been published about the Pacific.

Getting StonedGetting Stoned with Savages (J Maarten Troost) A funny and insightful story about a European couple living in Vanuatu and Fiji and the consumption of kava.

VakaVaka: Saga of a Polynesian Canoe (Sir Thomas Davis) The former Cook Islands Prime Minister tells a story of a canoe that sailed the ocean for 300 years – a fascinating exploration of Polynesian culture and history.

Song of the SolomonsSong of the Solomons: Faultlines in the South Pacific (E Hunt Augustus) A fast-paced and excellent novel set against the WWII Battle of Guadalcanal.

Related article: Central Europe: travel books to read before you go

30 Days30 Days in the South Pacific: True Stories of Escape to Paradise (edited by Sean O’Reilly et al) A lively anthology of travel writing in the Pacific isles.

TalesTales of the Pacific ( Jack London) A collection of short stories from the author’s time as a South Seas sailor.

TypeeTypee (Herman Melville) This and its sequel Omoo were Melville’s first forays into the ripping yarns of South Seas whalers, and both much more successful in his lifetime than Moby Dick.

The Happy IslesThe Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific ( Paul Theroux) A modern Pacific classic, although not everyone’s a fan of Theroux’s account of kayaking around the Pacific.

The Fatal ImpactThe Fatal Impact: The Invasion of the South Pacific 1767–1840 (Alan Moorehead) An acclaimed book on the impact of colonialism. Critically assesses the havoc wreaked by early European explorers.

Tales of the South PacificTales of the South Pacific, Rascals in Paradise and Return to Paradise ( James Michener) Famous collection of short stories dealing with life in the South Pacific from WWII onward.

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