The best books about Jamaica

Who picked these books? Meet our 60 experts.

60 authors created a book list connected to Jamaica, and here are their favorite Jamaica books.
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What type of Jamaica book?


Rule of the Bone

By Russell Banks,

Book cover of Rule of the Bone

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From the list on kids with attitude.

Who am I?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Escaping his abusive home life in upstate New York, fourteen-year-old, Chappie—called Bone after his tattoo—falls in with an assortment of drug dealers and Rastafarians. Angry and hard, Bone is also resilient and proves to have the biggest heart with a soft spot for others who have been dealt a terrible hand by life. In Rule of the Bone, Russell Banks masterfully explores the themes of class and race and the lives of the forgotten in rural America. Chappie has a lot to say about everything, and you may not like how he says it, but he is more often right than wrong.  

By Russell Banks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rule of the Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bone is a punked-out teenager, living in a trailer with his alcoholic mother and abusive stepfather. Rejected by his parents, out of school and in trouble with the police, he's now into drugs and shoplifting as he drifts through dope squats and shopping malls. Until, breaking away from a group of biker thieves, he finds refuge in an abandoned school bus with I-Man, an exiled Rastafarian who dramatically changes his life.

Port Royal

By Linda Chaikin,

Book cover of Port Royal

MaryLu Tyndall Author Of Veil of Pearls

From the list on on the edge of your seat Christian romance.

Who am I?

What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic. There’s nothing better than a great romance novel set in the past when chivalry was not dead. I’m a published author of more than twenty-five novels, including a great pirate series. I grew up in Florida and fell in love with the tropics as I sat on the beach and dreamt of handsome pirates. Once I became a Christian, I started reading Christian romances but found many of them moved a little slow to my liking, so I decided to write one myself! I have a BA in Computer Science and have won several awards for my writing.   

MaryLu's book list on on the edge of your seat Christian romance

Discover why each book is one of MaryLu's favorite books.

Why did MaryLu love this book?

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned pirate romance? I read all of Linda Chaikin’s pirate books long before I even started writing. She is an excellent novelist who does impeccable research. Her characters are lovable, the ship scenes exciting, the romance invigorating, and well, the stories are just plain fun!  

By Linda Chaikin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Port Royal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The scene is Jamaica in the 1700s--a world of smuggling, slaves, and sugar plantations. A British viscount turned pirate meets a woman with a noble cause. Romance, adventure, and Christian history are interspersed in this exciting series.

Book cover of Architecture and Empire in Jamaica

Trevor Burnard Author Of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution

From the list on Jamaica during the period of slavery.

Who am I?

Trevor Burnard is Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and author of four books and many articles on eighteenth-century Jamaica. He has recently reviewed 34 books just published on Jamaica in “`Wi Lickle but Wi Tallawah’: Writing Jamaica into the Atlantic World, 1655-1834 Reviews in American History 49 (2021), 168-86.

Trevor's book list on Jamaica during the period of slavery

Discover why each book is one of Trevor's favorite books.

Why did Trevor love this book?

Beautifully illustrated and persuasively argued, this survey of a variety of architectural forms in the eighteenth century, from merchant houses to enslaved yards to great houses shows how studying the built environment of early Jamaica gives insight into a society both rich and highly conflicted.

By Louis P. Nelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Architecture and Empire in Jamaica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through Creole houses and merchant stores to sugar fields and boiling houses, Jamaica played a leading role in the formation of both the early modern Atlantic world and the British Empire. Architecture and Empire in Jamaica offers the first scholarly analysis of Jamaican architecture in the long 18th century, spanning roughly from the Port Royal earthquake of 1692 to Emancipation in 1838. In this richly illustrated study, which includes hundreds of the author's own photographs and drawings, Louis P. Nelson examines surviving buildings and archival records to write a social history of architecture.

Nelson begins with an overview of the…


By Esther Figueroa,

Book cover of Limbo: A Novel about Jamaica

Alejandra Bronfman Author Of On the Move: The Caribbean Since 1989

From the list on to not feel like a dumb tourist in the Caribbean.

Who am I?

I have been doing research in the Caribbean for twenty-five years. The region is diverse and magnificent. Caribbean people have sought creative solutions for racial inequality, climate and sustainability, media literacy and information, women’s and family issues. The transnational connections with the US are complex and wide-ranging, and knowing more about this region is an urgent matter. My own work has focused on race and social science, mobility and inequality, and sound and media, all as ways of grappling with colonial legacies and their impact on the daily lives of people who live in this region. 

Alejandra's book list on to not feel like a dumb tourist in the Caribbean

Discover why each book is one of Alejandra's favorite books.

Why did Alejandra love this book?

Who thought the devastation of the environment in the interest of mining and development would be a funny, lyrical love story? For Flora Smith, scientist and head of a small environmental NGO, her native Jamaica is filled with family, lovers, friends, and enemies. She is deeply connected to her surroundings and finds ways to immerse herself in the landscape, wildlife, human relationships, and embodied pleasure when all else fails. 

By Esther Figueroa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Limbo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Flora Smith, Jamaican scientist and head of tiny NGO Environment Now, dedicates her life to getting Jamaicans to care about the natural environment. At the opening of Limbo, Flora is confronted by the nagging reality of not having enough money to keep her organization afloat. When sand is stolen from a resort development owned by a wealthy donor, she becomes embroiled in corrupt politics, dirty money, and a murder. In Jamaica, the land of "No problem, mon," everything is known but off the record. Can Flora get anyone to be held accountable? Can she find solutions for any of Jamaica's…

Around Harvard Square

By Christopher John Farley,

Book cover of Around Harvard Square

Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg Author Of The Nine

From the list on campus novels for the 21st century.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author of two novels, the most recent of which, The Nine, is set on a fictional New England boarding school campus. Although a secret society’s antics and a scandal on campus keeps readers turning the page, at the heart of the novel is the evolution of a mother-son relationship. Even before my three children began considering boarding schools, I was a fan of the campus novel. Think classics like A Separate Peace or Catcher in the Rye. My fascination surrounding these little microcosms—their ideals, how they self-govern, who holds power—only increased after experiencing their weird and wily ways as a mother. 

Jeanne's book list on campus novels for the 21st century

Discover why each book is one of Jeanne's favorite books.

Why did Jeanne love this book?

Speaking of outsiders, Around Harvard Square follows a superstar student-athlete from small-town USA who assumes he’s made it big when he’s admitted to Harvard University. However, as a young, Black man, Tosh Livingston soon discovers the ways in which he does not belong and finds that admissions committees aren’t the only gatekeepers. This novel really digs deep into issues of race and class, insiders and outsiders. And while the topics feel timely, they are also timeless—not only in the world at large but also in that microcosm, the campus. There have always been those who are kept out and always those with special access, such as legacies and athletes. The protagonist in this novel also comes up against a secret society, an underground facet of campus life and the epitome of exclusivity, which really set my own creative juices in motion. Funny and fast-paced, this novel epitomizes a protagonist’s struggle…

By Christopher John Farley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Around Harvard Square as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Race, class, and hormones combine and combust when a Harvard freshman and his two friends attempt to join the staff of the Harpoon, the school's iconic humor magazine.

Around Harvard Square is the winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Youth/Teens)!

Around Harvard Square has been named a 2020 Honor Book by the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People

"A smart, satirical novel about surviving the racial and cultural tensions ratcheted up in the elite Harvard hothouse. Farley has created a marvelously engaging and diverse set of characters, at the center of which is a nerdy…

How to Love a Jamaican

By Alexia Arthurs,

Book cover of How to Love a Jamaican: Stories

Keenan Norris Author Of The Confession of Copeland Cane

From the list on coming of age while Black.

Who am I?

Besides having come of age while Black, I’ve published two coming-of-age novels about Black adolescents. Even before I became a writer, or an adult, I had had a particular interest in coming-of-age narratives. From Walter Dean Myers’ Harlem-located Young Adult novels to Toni Morrison’s Sula and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, I’ve always been attracted to such stories. However, what the book list offered here does is map a reading series for what I see as an exciting intellectual formation for a Black reader.

Keenan's book list on coming of age while Black

Discover why each book is one of Keenan's favorite books.

Why did Keenan love this book?

I simply love these bracingly contemporary stories of Black Jamaican women who span the gamut from self-absorbed teenagers to Rihanna-inspired celebrities and overtaxed elders. These narratives take place both in JA and the USA and weave together elements of our twenty-first-century Black diaspora. Each of Arthurs’ stories sings in its own way, with exquisitely rendered details and moments of moral clarity. I love that these stories chronicle such a wide variety of Black women’s lives in such depth and detail. 

By Alexia Arthurs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Love a Jamaican as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'In this thrilling debut collection Alexia Arthurs is all too easy to love.' - Zadie Smith

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret - these are the tensions at the heart of Alexia Arthurs' debut book about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Some stories ask big questions about the things that define a person, others explode small moments of deep significance and lasting effect. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City, How to Love a Jamaican offers a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.

Vibrant, lyrical…

Exit Wounds

By Shaun Hutson,

Book cover of Exit Wounds

James P. Sumner Author Of True Conviction

From the list on thrillers that changed the game.

Who am I?

The novels I write aren’t typically like other thrillers out there. I want to stand out from the crowd and not be restricted by the expectations readers have nowadays. I compiled this list of thrillers I’ve read that I feel either redefine the genre or break the mould completely. These aren’t conventional. These don’t conform with mainstream expectations. They’re original and much better for it. These are the novels I want people to place alongside mine one day.

James' book list on thrillers that changed the game

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James love this book?

This author was one of my own discoveries as a young reader. Predominantly known for his horror novels, he had a sideline in gritty crime thrillers, and Exit Wounds is by far his best one. Set in London, it focuses on a small group of ageing criminals planning a robbery, only to get caught in the middle of a turf war between two gangs of Yardies. It’s violent, and you need a strong stomach at times, but this is one of the most gripping thrillers I’ve ever read. The signed copy I have stands proudly on my bookshelf!

By Shaun Hutson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exit Wounds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It begins with a murderous chase through the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. When a local hard man escapes, the action moves to an unsuspecting Britain where Yardie drug dealers and criminals begin to die horribly. Meanwhile a small-time crook, Frank Newton, has gathered his posse to pull off the robbery that will finally give them financial independence - unaware that half the haul belongs to a London gang boss who knows who they are.In return for their lives they have to eliminate a merciless new Yardie chief, while they themselves are being shadowed by a tenacious police team. With millions…

Windrush Child

By Benjamin Zephaniah,

Book cover of Windrush Child

Abena Eyeson Author Of Looking Up

From the list on stories about the Black child in Britain.

Who am I?

Ghanaian-born, I came to Britain aged twelve with my family and was always a lover of stories.  Now a PhD-educated mum of three, it niggled that there weren’t many novels with a Black child as the protagonist, especially a Black British one. As a creative who’d acted and performed poetry in the past, I set out to write a story about a Black child in Britain overcoming challenges.  Inspired by anecdotes of children remaining with relatives in their home country as their parents moved to Britain to make a life before sending for them, I was interested in writing a story about such a child after they arrived in Britain.

Abena's book list on stories about the Black child in Britain

Discover why each book is one of Abena's favorite books.

Why did Abena love this book?

This novel is the story of Leonard. The book starts with a focus on Jamaica but most of the story is about life after Leonard arrives in the UK with his mother to join his estranged father, who left Jamaica when Leonard was a baby. I found this to be a thought-provoking but easy-to-read historical novel about leaving the home you know where you feel loved and starting again somewhere that doesn’t feel so warm and welcoming. The story is about family, the Windrush generation and the history of Jamaica and Great Britain. An interesting read drizzled with Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry.

By Benjamin Zephaniah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Windrush Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this heart-stopping adventure, Benjamin Zephaniah
shows us what it was like to be a child of the Windrush generation.

Leonard is shocked when he
arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. His father is
a stranger to him, it's cold and even the Jamaican
food doesn't taste the same as it did back home in Maroon
Town. But his parents have brought him here to try to make
a better life, so Leonard does his best not to complain,
to make new friends, to do well at school - even
when people hurt him with their words…

The Lonely Londoners

By Sam Selvon,

Book cover of The Lonely Londoners

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From the list on introducing you to Black London.

Who am I?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Discover why each book is one of Jendella's favorite books.

Why did Jendella love this book?

Another classic, but this time set a generation before East of Acre Lane.

This follows members of the Windrush generation as they try and make their way in a city that is hostile in weather and temperament. There is a lot of humour here amongst the occasional bleakness, but either way it’s a revelatory read. Again, language is really important here to really hear the voices of the characters.

Admittedly, I read this quite late in the game, but could instantly see why it’s one of the classics.

By Sam Selvon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lonely Londoners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Lonely Londoners, an unforgettable account of immigrant experience and one of the great twentieth-century London novels, now in in a stunning Clothbound Classics edition.

At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry 'Sir Galahad' Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo? But the irrepressible…

Book cover of When Life Gives You Mangos

Callie Browning Author Of The Girl with the Hazel Eyes

From the list on the power (and danger) of love.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author whose books are all set on my beautiful island of Barbados. Reading and writing have always been a part of my life and I’m obsessed with books that explore other cultures and lifestyles. There’s nothing more intoxicating than reading about new foods and new environments all interconnected by our shared humanity. They could be fantasy books with great world-building or literary fiction that explore a tiny Asian city I never heard about. All of these incredible books have influenced my writing and expanded my knowledge of the world around me. 

Callie's book list on the power (and danger) of love

Discover why each book is one of Callie's favorite books.

Why did Callie love this book?

This book touched me. I remember reading it late one night and being instantly transported to a culture that sounded like the one I’ve known all my life.

This is a beautifully wrought children’s book set on the island of Jamaica that explores a child’s search for some semblance of the truth. Along the way, readers will love ‘seeing’ her play games, interact with a hilariously miserable old neighbour and take in the Jamaican culture with wonderment.

By Kereen Getten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Life Gives You Mangos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nothing much happens in Sycamore, the small village where Clara lives - at least, that's how it looks. She loves eating ripe mangoes fallen from trees, running outside in the rainy season and escaping to her secret hideout with her best friend Gaynah. There's only one problem - she can't remember anything that happened last summer.

When a quirky girl called Rudy arrives from England, everything starts to change. Gaynah stops acting like a best friend, while Rudy and Clara roam across the island and uncover an old family secret. As the summer reaches its peak and the island storms…

A High Wind in Jamaica

By Richard Hughes,

Book cover of A High Wind in Jamaica

Thomas Reed Author Of Pocketful of Poseys

From the list on siblings in trying circumstances.

Who am I?

I taught my first three recommendations as an English professor at Dickinson College. Since I retired, I’m constantly on the lookout for books worth discussing. Growing up, my feelings towards my brilliant and accomplished older sister cycled between awe, jealousy, resentment, and affection. That must partly account for the draw of books that explore the shared experiences and complex relationships of siblings. She’s sadly gone now, but watching the closening ties and lingering frictions between my own daughter and son keeps that interest alive—as does my constant witnessing of my wife’s rich relationship with her two older brothers. Since Cain and Abel, it’s all been about siblings.

Thomas' book list on siblings in trying circumstances

Discover why each book is one of Thomas' favorite books.

Why did Thomas love this book?

Richard Hughes has always been my favorite under-read author. I tell people he writes as though he were the love child of A. A. Milne and Joseph Conrad.

A High Wind begins in an idyllic Caribbean setting, with the five Thornton and two Fernandez children living in what seems to be pre-lapsarian innocence; but Hughes soon plunks them square into the world of “Typhoon” and Lord Jim.

There are hellacious hurricanes and swashbuckling pirates involved, but it’s the pirates that are finally defenseless in the face of the children they unluckily take on board from an England-bound passenger ship. Time and time again, Hughes captures the bizarre ways in which children see the world, just as often warped by imagination as consolidated by fact.

I’m struck by the way his empathy for his characters never guarantees that their fate in his hands will be anything other than brutal.

By Richard Hughes,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A High Wind in Jamaica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the high seas of the Caribbean, a family of English children is set loose - sent by their parents from their home in Jamaica to receive the civilising effects of England. When their ship is captured by pirates, the thrilling cruise continues as the children transfer their affections from one batch of sailors to another. Innocence is their protection, but as life in the care of pirates reveals its dangers, the events which unfold begin to take on a savagely detached quality.

Witnessing Slavery

By Sarah Thomas,

Book cover of Witnessing Slavery: Art and Travel in the Age of Abolition

Trevor Burnard Author Of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution

From the list on Jamaica during the period of slavery.

Who am I?

Trevor Burnard is Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and author of four books and many articles on eighteenth-century Jamaica. He has recently reviewed 34 books just published on Jamaica in “`Wi Lickle but Wi Tallawah’: Writing Jamaica into the Atlantic World, 1655-1834 Reviews in American History 49 (2021), 168-86.

Trevor's book list on Jamaica during the period of slavery

Discover why each book is one of Trevor's favorite books.

Why did Trevor love this book?

In this lavishly illustrated book, primarily about art in Jamaica but with nods to New South Wales and Britain, Sarah Thomas connects the plantation and urban world of Jamaica to the discipline of art history, giving careful analyses of painters like James Hakewill who painted scenes of plantation life designed to normalise and make more Arcadian a landscape that in fact was marked more by violence than by contentment. It speaks vividly to the silences that surround slavery on the island.

By Sarah Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witnessing Slavery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A timely and original look at the role of the eyewitness account in the representation of slavery in British and European art

Gathering together over 160 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints, this book offers an unprecedented examination of the shifting iconography of slavery in British and European art between 1760 and 1840. In addition to considering how the work of artists such as Agostino Brunias, James Hakewill, and Augustus Earle responded to abolitionist politics, Sarah Thomas examines the importance of the eyewitness account in endowing visual representations of transatlantic slavery with veracity. "Being there," indeed, became significant not only because…

Book cover of The Last Warner Woman

Renita D'Silva Author Of The Girl in the Painting: A heartbreaking historical novel of family secrets, betrayal and love

From the list on featuring multicultural characters and themes.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small village in India. The nearest library was in the next town, two bus rides and a long walk away and comprised of one bookshelf, half full, the books with several pages missing. I read and reread those books, making up my own narratives for the missing pages. I suppose this was the crucial first step in my journey to author. I write stories featuring diverse protagonists. In my books, I explore themes of displacement and belonging, how people brought up in different cultures and during different times respond to challenges, how their interactions and reactions are informed by their different upbringings and values.

Renita's book list on featuring multicultural characters and themes

Discover why each book is one of Renita's favorite books.

Why did Renita love this book?

Oh, this book was just magical. And the ending – wow! Everything comes together and how. The writing is just beautiful and the story is enchanting. This book transported me and wowed me - truly I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. I cried so much while reading this book – the language is so poetic and lyrical. It is a story about stories and it is a masterpiece in my opinion. 

By Kei Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Warner Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Miller is a name to watch." The Independent

"This is magical, lyrical, spellbinding writing." Granta

Adamine Bustamante is born in one of Jamaica's last leper colonies. When Adamine grows up, she discovers she has the gift of "warning": the power to protect, inspire, and terrify. But when she is sent to live in England, her prophecies of impending disaster are met with a different kind of fear people think she is insane and lock her away in a mental hospital.

Now an older woman, the spirited Adamine wants to tell her story. But she must wrestle for the truth with…

Luminous Isle

By Eliot Bliss,

Book cover of Luminous Isle

Gwen Strauss Author Of Ruth and the Green Book

From the list on by African American and Caribbean female writers.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Haiti where I was known as ti-blan—little white. And when we moved to central Florida, I remember the feeling of utter sadness and despair. I felt wrenched from the place I loved. The only person I could speak creole with was the janitor at the segregated white school. The teacher yelled at me for talking with him. Since then, I have been interested in this weird problem of race in America. I am drawn to women writers and Caribbean women writers. I love books that evoke place and language and tell me a story—but also deal with the specific urgent political questions of our times. 

Gwen's book list on by African American and Caribbean female writers

Discover why each book is one of Gwen's favorite books.

Why did Gwen love this book?

Eliot Bliss was a Jamaican born Anglo-Irish woman; she was also gay. Her stance as a Creole gay writer interests me. I also think she’s largely forgotten and should be read more. I related to her return to Jamaica (depicted in this novel) and her search for her sort of childhood home—that brings the realization that she both does and doesn’t fit in. She is white, she is gay so she doesn’t fit in British society where she feels out of place because of her Creole childhood and her sexuality, and she can’t fit in Jamaica because she is white and gay. And she sees clearly now the white oppressive colonials who were her family. It is a deeply felt search for home, both geographically but also in her body.

By Eliot Bliss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Luminous Isle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

All Over Again

By A-dziko Simba Gegele,

Book cover of All Over Again

Joanne C. Hillhouse Author Of Musical Youth

From the list on Caribbean teen and YA for readers everywhere.

Who am I?

I am an Antiguan-Barbudan writer. When I was a teen, there weren’t a lot of books from my world. So, I was excited when the Burt Award for teen/young adult Caribbean literature was announced. While that prize ran its course after five years, it left a library of great books in this genre, including my own Musical Youth which placed second in the inaugural year of the prize. I have since served as a judge of the Caribbean prize and mentor for the Africa-leg. I love that this series of books tap into different genres and styles in demonstrating the dynamism of modern Caribbean literature. For more on me, my books, and my take on books, visit my website.

Joanne's book list on Caribbean teen and YA for readers everywhere

Discover why each book is one of Joanne's favorite books.

Why did Joanne love this book?

This has often been recommended for boys (including by me) but, since there is no such thing as exclusively boy books and girl books, I’m calling this a good book period – with a highly entertaining and deeply endearing adolescent-ish boy, surrounded by a robust cast of supporting characters, at its center. More vignettes than plot, it is rooted in character and voice – in this case, the rare and highly effective use of the second voice. Tonally, it’s a callback to the adventures of boyhood captured in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and the mostly harmless incorrigibility of the boy protagonist as he moves between home, school, and community (the community, in this case, being rural Jamaica), getting into trouble and growing up. It’s the heart and humour for me!

By A-dziko Simba Gegele,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Over Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Over Again is a hilarious and enchanting coming of age story as a young boy goes through the trials and joys and puberty, battles with his 6-year-old sister who is the bane of his existences, worries about disappointing his mother and understanding his father. He has to learn to get around the town's bully while moving beyond know-it-all Kenny. The story is energetically told and has an enchanting narrative style that pulls you into it immediately. Growing up is hard. You know this. And when your mother has X-ray eyes and dances like a wobbling bag of water? When…

Book cover of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Katherine Carté Author Of Religion and the American Revolution: An Imperial History

From the list on historical fiction about the nineteenth century.

Who am I?

I’m a historian of early American history and a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. I came to my love of history through reading fiction as a child, and I’m still an avid reader of good stories of all kinds. Asking new questions about history requires imagination, and writers of good historical fiction provide brilliant ways to engage the past. They offer something real and human that transcends the need to footnote or fact check, so I turn off my historical accuracy meter when I read books like these. My list encapsulates some of my favorite novels for when I want to be a time traveler from my couch. 

Katherine's book list on historical fiction about the nineteenth century

Discover why each book is one of Katherine's favorite books.

Why did Katherine love this book?

In this amazing mystery/whodunit, Sara Collins tells the story of Frannie Langton, a Jamaican woman brought to London by her enslavers in the 1820s.

First and foremost, this book is a great story, with all the joys of fantastic fiction. When Frannie is put on trial for double murder, Collins opens up the complex world of plantation households—in the Caribbean and in London—to her readers. I study the dynamics of empire from a birds-eye view; Collins makes them personal, real, human, and intimate.

At the book’s core is Frannie’s searching, propulsive intellect and desire for human connection within a toxic world she cannot ultimately control. Through Frannie’s eyes the reader learns about the history of science, politics, class, race, and gender, but Collins’s storytelling makes it all utterly engrossing.

By Sara Collins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Confessions of Frannie Langton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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“A blistering historical thriller.” — Entertainment Weekly

A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this breathtaking debut that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London—a gripping historical thriller with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests.

All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly…

A Crack in the Sea

By H. M. Bouwman, Yuko Shimizu (illustrator),

Book cover of A Crack in the Sea

Sharon Skinner Author Of Lostuns Found

From the list on middle-grade adventures with magical elements.

Who am I?

I love books. All kinds of books. Growing up, I didn’t have many friends outside of books. It’s no wonder that as an adult reader/writer/editor/book coach, I still read widely and voraciously. I believe all stories are magical, but I’m especially drawn to books that contain emotionally engaging characters and fun magical elements. I’m also a huge fan of good KidLit and getting a chance to see and explore other cultures and worlds, both real and imagined. (I even co-host a podcast: Coaching KidLit.) So, I read a ton of magical stories and a lot of KidLit. That’s how I discovered the books on this recommended reading list. 

Sharon's book list on middle-grade adventures with magical elements

Discover why each book is one of Sharon's favorite books.

Why did Sharon love this book?

Creative and deeply layered, this book has so much on offer: multiple universes, a boy who can talk to fish, a city built of rafts, sea monsters, and wonderfully clever and well-drawn characters. An absolutely beautiful and emotionally engaging story of escaped slaves and refugees fleeing for their lives seeking a new home and freedom. I was totally swept away.

By H. M. Bouwman, Yuko Shimizu (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Crack in the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enchanting historical fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Thanhha Lai's Newbery Honor-winning Inside Out and Back Again

No one comes to the Second World on purpose. The doorway between worlds opens only when least expected. The Raft King is desperate to change that by finding the doorway that will finally take him and the people of Raftworld back home. To do it, he needs Pip, a young boy with an incredible gift-he can speak to fish; and the Raft King is not above kidnapping to get what he wants. Pip's sister Kinchen, though, is determined to rescue her brother…

The Sugar Baron's Governess

By Elva Cobb Martin,

Book cover of The Sugar Baron's Governess

Grace A. Johnson Author Of Held Captive

From the list on romantic swashbuckling adventure.

Who am I?

Since I was twelve years old and scribbling stories in an old notebook, I’ve been in love with pirate romance. The intense adventure, the dramatic romance, the freedom of the sea—and most importantly, the chance to find love and redemption, a theme that’s prominent in my Christian pirate romance series and the novels I read and enjoy! This list curates some of the top pirate/privateer novels I’ve read, all with clean romance and inspiring themes, to keep your TBR filled with swashbuckling high-seas voyages!

Grace's book list on romantic swashbuckling adventure

Discover why each book is one of Grace's favorite books.

Why did Grace love this book?

Elva Cobb Martin is a household name in the Christian pirate romance genre, but I’d never read any of her works until I picked up The Sugar Baron’s Governess. My first novel by her certainly won’t be my last! This perfect combination of sweet romance and fast-paced adventure reminded me why I love this genre so much, and I know it’ll inspire a love for pirate romance in all who read it! Even though it’s the fourth novel in a series, don’t be afraid to dive right in and enjoy! 

By Elva Cobb Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sugar Baron's Governess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She needs a new start...He knows a reckoning is coming.

Banished from Charleston for his misdeeds years earlier, Joshua Becket built a new life on both sides of the law in Jamaica. But he guards a secret identity. As a sugar plantation owner and member of the governing British Assembly, he's known and respected on the island. As swashbuckling Captain Jay, he leads daredevil privateering exploits on his ship, the Eagle, when the mood suits him. Currently, he needs a governess for his young daughter.

Widowed gentlewoman Abigail Welch accepted the governess position, leaving behind her disintegrated life in Charleston.…

The King's General

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of The King's General

Stella Riley Author Of The Black Madonna

From the list on books set in 17th century England.

Who am I?

I am the author of sixteen novels—six of them set in the mid-seventeenth century. The English Civil Wars and their aftermath is a period very close to my heartcombining as it does fascinating personalities, incredibly complicated politics, and all the drama and bloodshed of civil conflict. My greatest pleasure has been finding and featuring real men whose names are now largely forgotten.

Stella's book list on books set in 17th century England

Discover why each book is one of Stella's favorite books.

Why did Stella love this book?

Set in Cornwall, before and during the Civil War, this is a terrific tale based upon the lives of real people—most notably, perhaps, Sir Richard Grenville the King’s General in the West. It’s the story of the Rashleigh Family and Menabilly—where Daphne du Maurier herself lived.

Well written as one would expect of du Maurier—it’s a beautiful story, beautifully told; absorbing, exciting and hard to put down.

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The King's General as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by a grisly discovery in the nineteenth century, The King's General was the first of du Maurier's novels to be written at Menabilly, the model for Manderley in Rebecca. Set in the seventeenth century, it tells the story of a country and a family riven by civil war, and features one of fiction's most original heroines. Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless - and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies,…

Charlotte Sometimes

By Penelope Farmer,

Book cover of Charlotte Sometimes

Carole McDonnell Author Of The Constant Tower

From the list on unplanned or obsessively-planned journeys.

Who am I?

I'm a wife, mother, writer—and the mother of a disabled non-verbal thirty-three-year-old man. I'm also Black and a Christian, both of which can be problematic to many readers. I write fantasy and mainstream stories, Christian and non-Christian. Some fantasy readers have certain fears, stereotypes, and expectations of fantasy books written by minorities. Others have those same fears, stereotypes, and expectations of books written by Christian writers. I'm very good at accommodating my readers. For the most part, my readers never feel as if they’re being preached at or lectured. Some aren’t even aware that I'm Black or a Christian, even though my concernsimperialism, injustice, spirituality, ethnicity, disability, and feminismare throughout my stories.

Carole's book list on unplanned or obsessively-planned journeys

Discover why each book is one of Carole's favorite books.

Why did Carole love this book?

I love time travel stories. Stories where protagonists swap lives with other people are so much about acculturation and “passing.” Dislocation, confusion, etc. aside, the main issue is to not be found out. In the story, Charlotte is not always herself. Sometimes she’s in a boarding school in the fifties and sometimes she’s back in time at the same boarding school in the First World War. So we’re dealing with a borrowed life here. The life that Charlotte sometimes borrows belongs to Clare. Charlotte has very little in common with Clare. And even less knowledge of how establishments like this worked back in the day. Some quick learning and imitative skills are needed if she is not to be caught. For instance, she has to deduce what others expect and require of her. But she also has to not lose herself in all this pretense. 

When I came to the…

By Penelope Farmer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Charlotte Sometimes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is Charlotte's first night at boarding school, and as she's settling down to sleep, she sees the corner of the new building from her window.

But when she wakes up, instead of the building there is a huge, dark cedar tree, and the girl in the next bed is not the girl who slept there last night.

Somehow, Charlotte has slipped back forty years to 1918 and has swapped places with a girl called Clare.

Charlotte and Clare swap places ever night until one day Charlotte becomes trapped in 1918 and must find a way to return to her…