Brains Meet Bikinis: Island Hopping for Book Nerds


Reading on the Caribbean (Photo: Thinkstock)

As one of life’s perennial pleasures, a good book at the beach can’t often be beat (especially with a frozen, fruity drink on hand). So is it any surprise that in recent years, a handful of literary festivals just finished up in the Caribbean? With thoughtful lectures, readings, and Q&A sessions with notable local and visiting authors, here’s where to take your beach reading to the next level — next year!.


Salman Rushdie (Photo: Getty Images)

Calabash Literary Festival

Where: Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth’s Parish, Jamaica

When: Late May, every other year. This year’s festival ran from May 30 to June 1

Who: Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, and Prodigy of hip-hop duo Mobb Deep

Why: “I’ve never been to a festival anywhere that comes close to Calabash. The stage is inches from the ocean, the crowd is hyper literate and enthusiastic, and the vibe of the entire undertaking is incredibly warm. The fact that it’s a family affair is evident in every detail.” —Adam Mansbach, author of “Go the F—- to Sleep”


Treasure Beach in Jamaica. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Bocas Lit Fest

Where: Port of Spain, Trinidad

When: Late April, annually. This year, it ran April 23-27.

Who: Bocas prize winner Robert Antoni, Angus Book award winner Keith Gray, and NoViolet Bulawayo, the first black African woman to be shortlisted for the Man Booker prize

Why: “Bocas Lit Fest is close to my heart. The festival’s setting, in the historical center of the capital city, makes it extraordinary in its own way. It has become the lifeblood of Caribbean literature.” —Trinidadian Robert Antoni, author of “As Flies to Whatless Boys”


NoViolet Bulawayo (Photo: Getty Images)

Bim Lit Fest and Book Fair

Where: Barbados

When: Mid-May, annually. This year’s festival ran from May 15 to 17.

Who: Authors from locations all over the Caribbean, including Trinidad, Barbados, Haiti, and Grenada

Why: “What struck me most about the festival in Barbados — [aside from] the spectacular beaches and impossibly blue sea — was the enormous talent of the local writers and their hunger to reach a wider audience, both within the Caribbean and across the Atlantic.” —Elizabeth Nunez, author of “Not for Everyday Use”


Sunset in Barbados. (Photo: Thinkstock)


Bob Shacochis (Photo: Getty Images)

Anguilla Lit Fest

Where: Paradise Cove Resort, Anguilla.

When: Late May, annually. This year’s festival ran from May 22-25.

Who: NAACP Image Award finalist Bernice McFadden and National Book Award winner Bob Shacochis

Why: “Anguilla’s literary festival is unique because the island and its people are unique — they are friendly, hospitable, and welcoming. The island is small and so the intimacy level between islanders and visitors is comparatively higher than other islands that host literary festivals. It’s an environment that encourages engagement and seeds life-long relationships.” —Bernice McFadden, author of “Gathering of Waters”


A perfect place to plop down and read in Anguilla. (Photo: Thinkstock)

St. Martin Book Fair

Where: St. Martin island

When: Early June, annually. This year’s festival ran June 5-7.

Who: Writers from around the world, including Turkey, South Sudan, and Guadeloupe

Why: Compared to other Caribbean festivals, events here incorporate the whole island — like a reading with about 15 authors on a barge cruising up the picturesque Simpson Bay Lagoon. “The St. Martin Book Fair is more inclusive of the island. The opening took place at the international airport on the Dutch side, the closing at the cultural space in Concordia, on the French side.” —Montague Kobbe, author of “The Night of the Rambler”


A plane lands over Maho Beach on St. Martin. (Photo: Thinkstock)


Philispburg on the Dutch side, Sint Maarten. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Cassie Caruthers is a news editor at Yahoo — and never without a good book.

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