Island Paradise Books To Get You In The Mood For Holiday

Low Section Of Woman Reading Book
Marko Kujavic / EyeEm via Getty Images
Low Section Of Woman Reading Book

As someone who strongly prefers Christmas eve to Christmas day, I’m all about anticipation. The idea of the good thing awaiting me is just as good as the actual thing because it is full of sparkling potential and possibility. Reality has not yet arrived to confuse or confound, it’s just the blissful excitement of the good times to come, unspoilt in my imagination.

And that’s why, when it comes to holidays, I bask in the pre-holiday glow as much as humanly possible. Google image searches, plenty of research, anything I can do to revel in the anticipation of a holiday - somehow stretching out the experience for as long as possible, and much longer than I’m actually away. And one of the best ways to do this is to pick up the right reading materials.

If you’re setting off for an island getaway in 2020 prepare with one of these stories of island life. It’s not surprising that islands have been the setting for so many great books - a paradise backdrop readers can escape to, a place deeply seeded in our imaginations full of gold, pirates and adventure, and a intriguing a location removed from the mainland, isolated, separated, offering a feeling that anything could, and does, happen...

Here’s five of the best books to get you in the mood for island life...

Start Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, first published in 1883, was filled with pirates, one-legged men with talking parrots on their shoulders, buried treasure, maps, Long John Silver, gun fights and adventures on high seas, huguley influencing modern depictions of pirates. No one knows for sure where exactly Treasure Island was supposed to be but theories include Isla de Pinos near Cuba, Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands and Coco Islands off Costa Rica.

This international bestseller was set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during the Italian and German occupation during the second world war. The book became a 90s sensation; even featuring in Notting Hill, being read by Hugh Grant, and eventually becoming a Hollywood movie starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, shot on the stunning Greek Island. Be transported by the epic love story - and the dazzling backdrop of the sparkling blue mediterranean.

Another 90s phenomena turned into a movie blockbuster is The Beach. First published in 1996, the story tells of a young backpacker in Thailand looking for an unspoilt beach off the tourist trail. When he does, a Lord of the Flies type question plays out: What happens where humans find paradies and try to self govern? Although set in Thailand, British author Alex Garland, then only 26, was living in the Philippines when he wrote his debut and is said to have been inspired by the geography of the island of Palawan. Danny Boyle’s film version, featuring Leonardo Di Caprio, was filmed on Hat Maya, the main beach of Phi Phi Leh Island, near Phuket.

First published in 1961, this is the book that brought the author international fame. Set in Trinidad, the author’s birthplace, and with a protagonist based on his own father, the novel is a beautiful evocation of Caribbean life and a poignant study of the legacy of colonial society. In 2013, the family home of the author on the island was made into a museum dedicated to the author.

The award-winning 2004 novel by Andrea Levy aimed to put the often missing Caribbean experience into the narrative of the second world war. The story, told from the viewpoint of four narrators, begins in Jamaica before moving from one small island to another - wartime Britain. The novel is strongly associated with the windrush experience, and has been adapted for television and most recently, the stage at the National Theatre.


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