Colombia, a country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage, has captivated travelers for centuries with its stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and complex history.
To truly appreciate and understand this dynamic nation, it’s essential to delve into its literature, where you can explore the country’s geography, political history, and culture through the eyes of its most talented writers.
Exploring Colombia through books on a literary journey with a selection of books by highly regarded authors that every new traveler to Colombia should consider reading.
“100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez
Or as Colombians affectionately call him, Gabo. No recommended reading list about Colombia would be complete without one of Márquez’s masterpieces. His unique style of Magical Realism awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, a first for a Colombian author. You can visit Márquez’s childhood home (now, Casa Museo) in the small, tropical town of Aracataca.
“Magdalena: River of Dreams” by Wade Davis
Wade Davis, a renowned ethnobotanist and writer, takes readers on an enchanting journey down the Magdalena River, one of Colombia’s most significant waterways. In this exploration, Davis unveils the river’s rich history, geography, and the profound cultural and ecological importance it holds for Colombia. “Magdalena” provides a unique perspective on the country’s natural world and its deep connection to Colombian culture.
“The Sound of Things Falling” by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
In “The Sound of Things Falling,” Juan Gabriel Vásquez weaves a gripping narrative that explores the consequences of the drug trade in Colombia. Through the eyes of its characters, the book delves into the nation’s turbulent history, providing an intimate and thought-provoking look at the impact of violence on Colombian society.
“Culture Smart! Colombia” by Kate Cathey
This is a short and digestible introduction to the complexities and contradictions of Colombian culture. The book’s main focus is through the lens of Bogotá, as the author lives there and regularly writes for its English-language newspaper, The City Paper.
But despite its somewhat limited scope, Cathey provides a well-researched overview of the cultural nuances of Colombia. We encourage any traveler to Colombia to read this as an accompaniment to any travel guidebook.
“Secrets of Colombian Cooking” by Patricia McCausland-Gallo
McCausland-Gallo is a nutritionist, chef, and food writer born in Barranquilla. In her own words, “I want you to feel a bit of what the life of a Colombian family is like, and to bring you closer to our hearts.” This cookbook is not just a collection of recipes; it’s a gateway to understanding Colombia’s culinary heritage.
Short Walks from Bogota: Journeys in the New Colombia by Tom Feiling
If you’re interested in how the history and politics of Colombia shaped its modern landscape, this book will provide perspective and insight. It’s filled with personal interviews with Colombians from all walks of life –the politicians, the indigenous, the guerillas, the wealthy, and even the expats. It’s journalistic in style and heavy on research but worth the investment of time.
“Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia” by Miles McMullan
For nature enthusiasts, “Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia” is an essential field guide that helps readers identify the incredible diversity of bird species in Colombia: currently numbered at over 1,940. It’s a valuable resource for exploring the country’s rich biodiversity and natural beauty.
These books offer a diverse range of perspectives on Colombia’s geography, political history, and culture.
As you figure out your travel plans to Colombia, immersing yourself in these literary works will undoubtedly enhance your understanding and appreciation of Colombia’s complex and multifaceted identity.
So, pack these books along with your travel essentials, and prepare to embark on a literary journey that will enrich your Colombian experience.