Costa Rica Beach Reads

When I was in Costa Rica, I spent a lot of time on the beach, swimming, walking, and people-watching.  But being a book-lover, I couldn’t do that the entire time — I also read a lot, too!  I probably should’ve been reading Costa Rican literature, but in all honesty, by the afternoon I was more than ready to lose myself in some English words.  And I read some good ones:

Middlesex:  I’d been wanting to read this forever, and finally broke down and bought the ebook.  It was fantastic.  The storytelling and characters were complex and believable, and it was an interesting change to read a coming of age story that didn’t revolve around the cliche boy-meets-girl.  It was the first book I’ve ever read with a non-cisgender main character.

Gathering Blue:  I read The Giver in high school and enjoyed it, and had recently watched the movie when I found this on Amazon.  Though similar to The Giver, I wasn’t as impressed with this, but it was an easy, entertaining read nonetheless.

Moloka’i:  Brennert’s signature way of narrating an entire life story is fascinating.  I loved reading about life in Hawaii in its earlier years, and the main character was easy to like.  The supporting characters were also surprisingly strong and diverse, and the author deals with them in a direct, no-nonsense way that makes the story world come alive.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond:  I’d wanted to reread this ever since I read it my freshman year of high school, and now I finally have.  It was less dramatic and shorter than I remembered, but still a great historical novel.

None of these are what I would call a typical beach read, but I enjoyed them!  I would always mention them in class when my teacher asked what I had done the previous day, and it was then I learned something sad: apparently, reading is not a big part of the culture in Costa Rica.  According to my teacher, most people there read about one or two a year.  She was astonished one Monday when I told her I’d read two books that weekend.  Who knows, perhaps I was the first bookworm specimen she had ever met!  I hope she meets many more.


  1. […] I first read this when I studied abroad in Costa Rica and loved it.  It is 1000% worth a re-read.  Middlesex has all my favorite elements in a literary novel: it’s multi-generational and spans across decades, self-identification is a main theme, the characters are from a culture and time different from mine, and it deals with heavy topics in an elegant way.  It’s a coming-of-age story — actually, it’s several coming-of-age stories.  There is heartbreaking tragedy.  There’s young love.  There’s confusion and worry and the feeling of not being known.  Every single character — and by that I mean literally every single character, no matter how brief the mention — is a human, has a story, and feels just as real as anyone I’ve ever met in real life.  The characters are simultaneously benevolent and selfish, intelligent and ignorant, noble and base.  If I ever find a hard copy of this, I am buying it, because this is a book that deserves to be bought and read and re-read and displayed and discussed and it’s amazing and you should read it. […]

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