Latin America Reading List

These resources are suggested to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the history, unique culture, wilderness, and wildlife of Latin America:

Panama Canal

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panamá Canal, 1870-1914 - David McCullough
The complex, epic construction is illuminated in this detailed history from world events that inspired the idea to the people who moved earth to build it.

Panamá Fever: The Epic Story of the Building of the Panamá Canal - Matthew Parker
The construction of the Canal brought to life through stories of the people involved, from the laborers in the field, to engineers and politicians nstrumental in developing the project.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica - Les Beletsky
This in-depth natural guide offers detailed information and photographs for identifying flora and fauna, plus informative descriptions of the country’s ecosystems.

Monkeys are made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica - Jack Ewing
Through his many experiences and keen observations, Ewing spins a captivating web of stories that highlight the close connections between all living creatures and plants in Costa Rica’s jungles. 

Colombia

The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself - David Bushnell
Diving into independence, economics, society, and politics, Bushnell examines modern Colombia and how it defied stereotypes becoming a prosperous nation. To embark on your trip informed of the country’s history and culture, start here. 

Music, Race, and Nation: Musica Tropical in Colombia - Peter Wade
Discover Colombia through the rhythm of its music—cumbia, porro, and vallenato. Wade’s book examines how the country’s people express issues of race, economics, politics, sexuality, cultural history, and progress.

Belize & Guatemala

Time among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico - Ronald Wright
Follow Wright’s travels through Central America exploring the history of the Maya from invasion and civil war to contemporary culture. This thorough study melds archaeology, history, ethnology, politics, and adventure into an insightful and entertaining read.

How to Cook a Tapir - Joan Frye
Frye’s non-fiction account of her time in an isolated Maya village in the early 1960s is a sensory journey into the rainforest. Follow alongside her learnings of life, love, and—complete with recipes—cooking. 

Panama

The Birds of Panama: A Field Guild - George R Angehr & Robert Dean
This portable illustrated guide is a thorough tool with 900 species of birds found in Panamá along with habits, habitats, and identification information.

Reef Fish Identification: Baja To Panamá - Paul Humann & Ned Deloach
Photographs, descriptions of marine life, and notes on behavior illuminate the underwater world, including a special section on whales and dolphins.

 

Costa Rica Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species - James Kavanagh & Raymond Leung
A back-pocket companion covering many of Costa Rica’s creatures from basilisks to three-toed sloths to armadillos. Color drawings help with quick and easy identification.

Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion - Barbara Ras & Oscar Arias
Twenty-six short stories written by some of Costa Rica’s most talented writers provide unique insight into the lives of Tico’s in all the regions of the country. While fictional, each vignette offers an insider’s perspective of the color and vibrancy of the country.

Short Walks from Bogotá: Journeys in the New Colombia - Tom Feiling
Curious how Colombia transformed from a land described as paradise by conquistadors to a notorious “narcostate” and now a rising star and travel hotspot, Feiling takes to the country’s least traveled roads to find out why, collecting first-hand stories from Colombians.

Birding in Colombia - Jurgen Beckers & Pablo Florez
Colombia is home to nearly 1,900 species birds. Beckers and Florez’s well-researched book is an incredibly helpful guide to what birds can be found where. Featuring 127 sites with 85 maps and 240 color photos of birds. 

 

Men of Maize - Miguel Ángel Asturias
Referencing the Mayan belief that bodies were made of corn, Men of Maize weaves magical realism, history, and details Guatemala's indigenous communities together. This book earned Asturias the 1967 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America - Adrian Forsyth & Ken Miyata 
An essential companion for a trip to Belize and Guatemala, this collection of 17 essays details the habitats, ecology, plants, and animals of the rainforest through the eyes of two inquisitive biologists.
 

The Darien Gap: Travels in the Rainforest of Panamá - Martin Mitchinson
Modern-day explorer, Mitchinson arrived in Darien by sailboat and attempted to retrace the path of 16th-century conquistador Vasco Balboa across the rugged gap to the Pacific.

Getting to Know the General - Graham Greene
Late in his life, Graham Greene wrote about his experiences of being invited to Panama by Omar Torrijos, who ruled the country from the mid-1960s to 1981. Greene’s multi-year experience is full of rich character and intrigue.


 

 

 

 

 

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Originally published in 1967, this is arguably Marquez’s most popular piece, melding fact and fantasy in an extraordinary work of magical realism. A timeless Latin American classic, the story weaves through generations of the Buendia family. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaguar: One Man's Struggle to Establish the World's First Jaguar Preserve - Alan Rabinowitz
Join zoologist Rabinowitz as he studies and fights to preserve Belize’s elusive jaguar. This personal and powerful story of his struggles reveals as much about adventuring in the jungle as it does the jaguar itself.