Posted by: biblioglobal | November 6, 2012

Reading in the Caribbean

Sailing in the Caribbean

The views are beautiful, but deceptive. They give no indication of how hot and humid it is.

I was lucky enough to get to spend last week on a sailing trip in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. Of course, I had to plan the proper books to go along with the trip! I always carry an excess of books with me when I travel, because I want to have choices of what to read. (Since I like my books in paper form the weight definitely adds up.) For a week long trip, this means I brought four books with me (all relatively short), of which I read two. I had thought I might get a bit more read, but the rocking of the waves deterred me some and good conversation with my family took up most of the time anyway.

Although we were in the Caribbean, we technically spent all of our time in the countries of England, France and the Netherlands. I thought about reading books for those countries while I was there, but in the end, I decided it would be better to read books from the nearby island nations- A State of Independence by Caryl Phillips for St. Kitts and Nevis and My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid for Antigua and Barbuda. The other books I brought along were Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and Unburnable by Marie-Elena John, both of which are partially set in Dominica. I’ll read one of those, probably Wide Sargasso Sea, soon. In the meantime I have a bunch of reviews to write since I also finished reading my New Zealand book, The Bone People by Keri Hulme, right before my trip.

In addition to reading on my own, in the late afternoons after anchoring we took turns reading the first few chapters of The Hobbit aloud to each other. It was a lovely way to spend the last few hours of daylight while waiting for the world to cool down enough to start cooking dinner, but it was also part of a tradition for me. I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a kid by taking turns reading them aloud with my father. We didn’t have time to finish The Hobbit during this trip, but I’m hoping to keep reading it aloud and finish it before the movie comes out.

A couple of other literary connections:

-I saw iguanas in the wild for the first time. And lots of other lizards too. But none of them talked to me.

-At Anguilla we were told to fly the yellow quarantine flag on our boat until we cleared customs. Just like the Swallows and Amazons did in Winter Holiday! (Though in their case it was because they had been exposed to the mumps.)

Quarantine flag

Flying the yellow quarantine flag.




  1. Wide Sargosa Sea is supposed to be really good! (And I’m beyond jealous of your trip :-D)

    • I tried to read it once before many years ago, but didn’t get very far. I think because I knew it was supposed to be related to Jane Eyre, but then when I started reading it there didn’t seem to be any connection. Know that I know to expect it to start on a Caribbean island I think it will go better.

      • Yeah – I haven’t ever tried to read it, but I love the ideas of prequels/sequels to classic novels and it’s apparently one of the better written ones. Good luck!

  2. Sargosa Sea is about Rochester’s first wife. Rhys starts the story with her before her marriage to him. When I read it, I also had the same question of how the opening section related to Jane Eyre. Trust me it ties together later on.

    • Good to know that I wasn’t the only one confused. I’ve finished Wide Sargasso Sea now! I need to write up my review.

      • No you are not alone. Glad you are reviewing this. I chickened out.

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