As the world marks International Literacy Day on 8th September 2020, Puerto Rico is celebrating the power of books to inspire travel and feed the natural human instinct to explore this world, as well as introduce readers to new destinations, educate them on local culture and show them new sides to discover.
With this in mind Discover Puerto Rico, the official tourism board for the destination, suggests five iconic books that transport readers to tropical Puerto Rico in their minds. From the colourful boroughs of San Juan, to the thriving LGBTQ+ scene, to the eclectic flavours of the local cuisine, to exploring Puerto Rico’s pivotal history, book worms can discover Puerto Rico for themselves with these top reads…
Simone, Eduardo Lalo: Set around Río Piedras, Santurce and Old San Juan, Simone is an ode to San Juan’s different boroughs. The story surrounds a middle-aged writer-turned-professor who starts receiving messages from an unknown source. No matter where he goes or what busy street he decides to cross in San Juan, he’ll always find a message. As the novel ensues, so does love for the city and also for the secret pursuer.
La Llamarada, Enrique Laguerre: One of Puerto Rico’s most renowned authors, Laguerre writes about Puerto Rico’s sugar industry and the way of life of rural-based Puerto Ricans during the first half of the 20th Century. Castillo Labadie, which Laguerre renames as Palacete Los Moreau, is used as a setting for several parts in the novel. Nowadays visitors can book a free tour of the chateau-esque mansion located in Moca.
Mundo Cruel, Luis Negrón: Cry.. roar with laughter.. and be deeply moved by this celebration of LGBTQ+ life in Santurce. This compilation of short stories showcases Santurce and Río Piedras as truly as possible, with a poignant and hilarious sense of humour surrounding the LGBTQ+ scene that moves the reader emotionally and intellectually.
The House on the Lagoon, Rosario Ferré: Lean about the history of Puerto Rico through this riveting, multigenerational epic. The tale that unfolds in Ferré’s writing has layers upon layers, exploring the nature of love, marriage, family, and primarily Puerto Rico itself. Centered on the life of a Puerto Rican living in Ponce, the book begins on July 4th, 1917, the day President Wilson signed the act granting Puerto Ricans American citizenship and the novel explores the history of a family whose secrets, conflicts and private mythologies add up to the larger story of a nation: Puerto Rico.
We Fed an Island, José Andrés: After Hurricane Maria left most of Puerto Rico without clean water, food or power, Chef José Andrés addressed the crisis the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time. From serving sancocho at José Enrique’s restaurant in San Juan to cooking huge local paellas that served thousands of people alone. We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time describes how a network of community kitchens activated real change and tells an extraordinary story of hope in the face of disaster.