Following is our curated list of best books about Cuba that can help you understand the country and enhance the enjoyment of your travel.
Find even more recommendations in our list of films and documentaries about Cuba.
Cuba Unspun by Rosa Jordan
In her travels around Cuba by bike, bus, plan, train, truck, and car, Jordan explores the island’s culture physically and intellectually. With particular attention to ways in which social realities intersect with personal courage and compassion, she introduces readers to Cubans in all walks of life. Familiar places like Havana and Varadero are viewed from unfamiliar angles and serve as starting points for adventures that began two decades ago and continue into the future. For travelers who want a sense of what they are likely to find in the less-touristed parts of Cuba today, this is a trip through time as well as space that holds many surprises.
The Woman She was by Rosa Jordan
Celia Cantú, a Havana paediatrician, tries to balance work with parenting her sixteen-year-old niece Liliana, whose idea of fun is hanging out at resorts with foreign tourists. While trying to keep Liliana out of harm’s way, Celia is also torn between what her niece teasingly calls “Tía Celia’s two fiancés.” The current one is a high-level Communist bureaucrat, the previous one his brother who was engaged to Celia back in medical school, before emigrating to Miami and embracing capitalism. The turbulent past and uncertain future collide when Liliana disappears and Celia sets out across the island to find her. This is a novel that explores the aspirations, hopes and fears of contemporary Cubans, along with the challenges they still face.
Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana by Ann Louise Bardach
A well research history of the relations between Fidel Castro and his supporters in Havana and the Cuban exile community in Miami. The book follows the case of Eliàn Gonzalez, who at the age of six in 2000, became America’s most famous refugee.
Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution by T.J. English
A fascinating story of 1950’s invasion of Cuba by American Mafia led by famous mobster Meyer Lansky and supported by Cuba’s corrupt government of dictator Fulgencio Batista which ended with Fidel Castro and his revolution in 1959.
Our man in Havana by Graham Greene
A political satire and spy novel set in Havana during the Batista regime. It tells a story of Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman, who agrees to spy for a MI6 but as he can’t find any useful information, he ends up inventing fake reports which the British fall far.
Havana: A Subtropical Delirium by Mark Kurlansky
Written by a former foreign correspondent in Havana for the Chicago Tribune, the book presents a fascinating portrait of the city, it’s history, mixture of cultures and the wonderful spirit of the people.
Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause by Tom Gjelten
An intriguing story of the Bacardi family and its involvement in Cuban politics. The author interweaves the history of the rum empire and the history of the country covering the period from mid 19-th century and the Spanish occupation of Cuba up until the present day Cuba.
Breathe: Stories from Cuba by Leila Segal
A collection of 9 stories about modern day Cuba told from a non-cuban/outsider perspective. The stories are set between 2000 and 2004 and focuses on everyday life, human interactions and the circumstances the people found themselves in.
Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire
In this memoir, Carlos Eire recounts his childhood experiences when in 1962, alongside 14,000 other Cuban children he was airlifted from Cuba to the US to avoid indoctrination by Fidel Costro’s government – the program was called operation Peter Pan.
Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson
A well research biography of the Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “ Che” Guevara. Anderson takes us through the life of Che, from his youth on Argentinian farm, studies and travels through continent, through to becoming a key figure in Cuban Revolution.
The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo by Juan Reinaldo Sanchez
An interesting look on Fidel Castro’s personal life and alleged fortune. Juan Reinaldo Sanchez spend almost two decades serving in Fidel’s personal security team before he fell out of favor, was imprisoned and finally managed to find refuge in US.
Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana by Isadora Tattlin
A wife of a wealthy diplomat documents the time she spent with her family in Havana, Cuba during the late 1990’s.
Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana by Marc Frank
Mark Frank has lived and reported on Cuba for almost a quarter century. In his book, Frank presents a fine overview of the history and analyses the continued changes happening in Cuba’s society, economics and politics.
The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba by Julia Cooke
A very personal depiction of contemporary Cuba from the perspective of an American journalist who has traveled to and lived there for years. Focusing on various individuals she befriended over the years, Cooke explores the life and prospects of young generation in the post Fidel Havana.
If you’re planning a trip or dreaming of visiting Cuba, you must also go through the following listed Cuba travel books. There is nothing so precious than being able to pursue your long-time dreams in reality.
We hope you enjoy our list of best books about Cuba! Which ones have we missed? Feel free to let us know in the comments!