Best Books To Read Before Visiting Cuba

If you plan on taking a trip to Cuba, it can be fun to set the scene first, right? There are some outstanding books on the market that enable you to do this!

Get the fire on (or the air con, depending on where you live), lay on the sofa, and prepare for your big trip.

Read on to discover some of the best books to read before visiting Cuba. 

Image source

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cuba, by DK Publishing

Every trip abroad should involve reading at least one reference book! The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide for Cuba is jam-packed with essential details. It helps you navigate and decide where to eat, where to go, and how to behave in a different culture. 

This fantastic resource, which has a recent update, can assist you in making the most of your trip and avoiding some typical problems. 

This is because every country is unique! And, countries that have been cut off from the outside world for as long as Cuba typically have a lot of surprises in store.

The Other Side of Paradise, by Julia Cooke

Although Cuba has been politically and economically isolated for many years, its people have adapted. No culture stays stuck in time, and Cuba is no exception. 

Cooke reflects on the people and culture in this unexpected book that offers an alternative viewpoint on what you might find while traveling to Cuba. 

Author Julia Cooke lived there for five years and developed a keen journalist’s perspective on both. 

This book will give you a broader perspective on the exploits you might expect, from wild hurricane parties to grim street tales.

Waiting for Snow in Havana, by Carlos Eire

Carlos Eire, a citizen of Havana, was evacuated to Florida at the age of 11 as a part of the contentious Operation Peter Pan, abandoning the only world he had ever known. 

This autobiography describes his experiences in Havana before and after the 1959 revolution. 

He also reveals his sense of loss, as his home country and city underwent a radical transformation, as well as his struggles to acculturate to a new culture and leave his old life behind. 

It offers a fascinating look at historical Cuba and its impact on its inhabitants.

The Dirty Havana Trilogy, by Pedro Juan Gutierrez

One of the best Cuban novelists to read is Gutierrez. His novels provide a gritty, frequently violent, and grim portrayal of contemporary life in the communist nation. 

His best-known works, the Dirty Havana trilogy, are contemporary depictions of daily living that expose the dark side of Cuban culture while retaining an evident admiration for it. 

The books will give you a view of Cuban life that you won’t get in any guidebooks, but they are not for the weak of heart or those who are easily shocked.

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (Revised Edition)

It is virtually impossible to visit Cuba without having some knowledge of the 1959 revolution and the leaders and fighters who made it happen. Che Guevara foremost among them. 

Image source

Guevara was an intriguing character born into affluence in Argentina but dedicated his life to fighting for the oppressed and the poor through revolution. 

He eventually rose to become the second most powerful man in the new Cuba before dying fighting for revolutions in other nations, such as Bolivia, where they put him to death in 1965. 

This book is a must-read because Cuba still has the government Guevara assisted in establishing, and you can see his impact everywhere.

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba, by Tom Gjelten

Facundo Bacardi Massó came to Cuba in the early 19th century. He established the Bacardi Family and the renowned rum that started its booze empire. 

A liquor derived from sugarcane, rum is still one of the world’s least regulated and most diverse forms of alcohol. It was once a cheap beverage. 

This book looks at the rise of Bacardi and its ties to Cuba (its current headquarters are in Bermuda). It looks at the nation’s economics too. This history of both will provide the required context for understanding why Cuba took its course.

Trading with the Enemy, by Tom Miller

This journalistic depiction of contemporary Cuba, which was published in 2008, is crucial for anyone organizing a trip there. 

During his trip to Cuba, Miller received extraordinary access and was permitted to travel the entire nation alone and unobserved. 

He had open, fascinating chats, heard politically incorrect jokes, and got to experience the island’s and the people’s undiscovered charms. 

This is the book to start with if you have no prior knowledge of how life has been in Cuba recently.

Explosion in a Cathedral, by Alejo Carpentier

One of the most renowned writers from Cuba, Carpentier, delves into the friction between Cuba and Europe, even today. 

In his 1962 novel, he looks at the repercussions of the 18th-century revolutionary era, particularly the French Revolution, on Cuba and other Caribbean countries. 

The emphasis is on three brothers who encounter the renowned French explorer Victor Hugues. They become involved in political upheavals that, for a time, seemed destined to remake every corner of the planet. It’s this approach that keeps this sprawling historical story grounded and focused. 

If you were unaware that Cuba has long had a strong literary and artistic community, this is a wake-up call.

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, by Oscar Hijuelos

Hijuelos, the first Hispanic American to get the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1990, was born in Cuba. 

The book relates the tale of two Cuban brothers who immigrated to America to search for a lost love and musical stardom. They reach their zenith when they make a brief appearance on the television program called I Love Lucy. 

The writing is brilliant, vividly depicting much of Cuban society in the early and middle decades of the 20th century. It will motivate anyone who wants to learn more about Cuban culture.

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway

Papa’s classic account of an old Cuban fisherman who spends months trying to catch a massive marlin off the coast of Florida is essential reading if you’re traveling to Cuba. 

Reading a book that won the Pulitzer Prize and helped its author win the Nobel Prize in Literature should take little encouragement. 

Despite its lyrical and symbolism, the book is written from an expert’s perspective. This is because Hemingway lived in Cuba intermittently for two decades and was an avid fisherman. Many people believe it embodies the spirit of the nation.

Keep yourself busy with the best books to read before visiting Cuba

So there you have it: some of the best books to consider reading before taking a trip to Cuba! Do you love fiction? Maybe you want to learn more about the history of Cuba. Or, you want to prepare for your trip with a guide to Cuba? The books mentioned above have got you covered. They’ll surely get you excited about your trip.