Recommend some books for me to read while on a trip to Costa Rica
April 8, 2013 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find an inspiring read. Melting snowflake details inside.

Mrs. Cheese and I are off to sunny Costa Rica for a short trip we had booked for next week. A few days ago, a dear family member died and the next several days will be heavy for me while my family gets together for that before we go on our trip.

I have been working like mad to wrap things up and I could use some fresh perspective and inspiration on this trip. I plan to get back to writing and reading daily and recentre myself a bit.

I mention all this because I'm looking for some things to read that will inspire and help me. Some ideas:

- maybe something that will give interesting insight into Costa Rica or Central America
- or at least a book about the rewards of travel and other cultures
- literature as opposed to fiction, if you know what I mean. I've been reading Cormac Mcarthy and Stephen King lately, and I definitely want something more in the Mcarthy vein.
- maybe something that deals with death, loss, travel, big life changes, simplifying life, or major life transitions
- some magical book that has all these properties

Thank you MeFi book club!
posted by hamandcheese to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you're looking for One Hundred Years of Solitude by Márquez. South America, not Central America, but at least close. Death, loss, changes, transitions: all checked. Book is actually magical, check.
posted by komara at 10:15 AM on April 8, 2013

Dave Eggers - You Shall Know Our Velocity covers your death, loss, travel, big life changes, and simplifying life categories.
posted by obscurator at 10:50 AM on April 8, 2013

Can others comment on whether The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux fits this bill? It seems to me like it would fit, but I've neither read the book nor seen the movie...
posted by homelystar at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was going to comment about The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. I've read it and LOVED it. It meets many of the required criteria - big life changes, simplifying life and major transitions for one.
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2013

I agree that One Hundred Years of Solitude would be a great choice.

I'm also a big fan of Julian Barnes' Nothing to Be Frightened Of, and David Shields' The Thing About Life Is that One Day You'll Be Dead. The latter two don't have the travel aspect in any respect, but they are very warm and straightforward in their views about the way life progresses.

This is kind of weird, but maybe it would work. There's this book called American Fuji, by Sara Backer, which I picked up thinking that it would be lighthearted "chick lit" and it turned out to be a lovely little novel that deals with loss and change and how hard it is to let go of ideas that we have about things, and how sometimes there just aren't any answers and sometimes there's no happy ending. The two main characters in the book are (a) a young woman suffering from a chronic illness called ulcerative colitis, and (b) the father of a young man who died in a motorcycle accident. She's in Japan, formerly as an ESL teacher, and the young man was an exchange student in the university. Against her will, she is thrown into helping out the young man's father, who is there to find out what happened to his son and why. There's a lot of humor, and a lot of sadness, too, and a fair amount of the gentle humor centers on the frustrations of people trying to get along in cultures they don't understand. I read it quite a while ago, and then pulled it out again in 09 when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It held up. It's no McCarthy, but it's deeper than you might think.
posted by janey47 at 5:53 PM on April 8, 2013

One River by Wade Davis is about field work in South America, traditional psychedelics, botanical research, the history of exploring the Amazon, and the development of the rubber trade, centered around the work of Richard Shultes in the 1940s. It has served me well as a companion while traveling in CR.
posted by vortex genie 2 at 6:04 PM on April 9, 2013

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