One of the most interesting ways to get to a new country is by sampling some of its literature. I’m not talking about the “how to move book” or the “things not to forget” but the stories that exist within the culture. The stories that move you and give you an idea about the people, their thoughts, nuances, and their relationship with the land.
Read on to discover 8 books – some in English & some in Spanish that will have you ready to curl up with a cup of tea in no time.
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1. Map Maker’s Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon (By: Robert Whitaker)
An epic tale of great proportion, this incredible novel tells the true story of a French scientific expedition’s journey deep into the heart of Spain’s enigmatic colony and the power of love over the enthralling depths of the Amazon jungle. This true Ecuadorian adventure inspired generations’ worth of fear and respect for the Amazon and will leave you thinking that, sometimes, truth is much stranger than fiction.
2. From Cuenca to Queens: An Anthropological Story of Transnational Migration (By: Ann Miles)
Written as a case study that reads like a novel, this account represents one man’s quest to find success and fulfillment in the United States and shows the stark realities he and his family face as they fight to make that dream a reality.
3. The Ecuador Reader: History, Culture, Politics (By: by Carlos de la Torre and Steve Striffler)
This fabulous collection of essays, articles, and perspectives is a must-have for anyone wanting to understand the beating heart of Ecuadorian history and culture.
Starting with Ecuador’s Pre-Colonial past and showing the country’s growth as an independent nation up to modern globalization, this collection of works will help you see the great mosaic of Ecuador’s history and culture.
4. Un Viejo Que Leía Novelas de Amor / The old man who read love stories (By: Luis Sepulveda)
Dive deep into the Ecuadorian jungle and view life from the eyes of Antonio Jose Bolivar Proana, a man sick of the world of men and greed. Reading stories of romance and love, Antonio Jose tries to separate himself from a world looking to dominate the unruly, majestic rainforest but is constantly confronted by men’s corruption and venality. Less than 150 pages, this hypnotic short story will linger in your memory.
5. Filosofía Andina: Estudio intercultural de la sabiduría autóctona andina (By: Josef Estermann)
Open yourself to the fascinating world of Andean Philosophy and its captivating cosmic worldview. Not for the light of heart, this advanced Spanish philosophical study is stepped in native Andean cosmological orientation and is a captivating experience that exposes the intrinsic soul of Andean culture and mentality.
6. Quito 1599: City and Colony in Transition (By: Kris Lane)
To understand Ecuador, one must understand it’s colonial past. Focusing on the convoluted and dynamic history of Quito, the city and the colony, this book opens a window to the past and offers a rare peak at the diverse forces that combine to make Ecuador’s captivatingly complex society.
7. Huasipungo / The Villagers (By: Jorge Icaza)
A controversial, groundbreaking novel for its time, Hausipungo (The Villagers) lends voice to the plight and systematic abuse of indigenous peoples by Hacienda landowners. This fundamental piece of the Ecuadorian-Indian story depicts the harsh and troublesome reality generations of natives faced in Ecuador’s peon-serfdom based society which reigned the country following Spanish colonialism.
8. Ecuador: Panoramas (by: Jorge Anhalzer)
Sometimes you don’t need words to tell a story. This book of panoramic photos features some of Ecuador’s most iconic and spectacular landscapes.
It also makes for a fantastic coffee table book to inspire your next Ecuadorian adventure.
You can also get a glimpse of Jorge’s work via his gorgeous Instagram channel.
Where to find these books in Cuenca?
We’ve provided links to Amazon for those that have access. But, given Amazon deliveries can be very difficult to receive in Ecuador without paying a small fortune in import taxes, seeking out a local option might be the easiest & most cost-effective solution.
Your best chance of finding these books in Cuenca is at Carolina Bookstore. They have a lot of their books available online, so you can do a quick search to see if they currently have any of these in stock.
YapaTree cardholders also currently get 10% off at Carolina Bookstore.
The Mapmaker’s Wife, great choice. A fabulous book on many levels, with the Amazon and Isabel coming out about evens for star of the show.
The most significant book about Ecuador is missing from this article: Portrait of a Nation : Culture and Progress in Ecuador / by Osvaldo Hurtado (2010). Sr. Hurtado is a former president of Ecuador and clearly explains how the history of the country has molded the current culture. It is a MUST READ for anyone considering a move to Ecuador.
You missed adding one of the most popular books on Cuenca to your list. KEYS TO CUENCA. available as a Kindle Edition on Amazon
Here is the Filosofia Andina book at a MUCH MORE Reasonable price ($30.00, compared to Amazon’s $180), directly from the publisher.. http://abyayala.org/Abyayala2016/?s=filosofia+andina&post_type=product
Another must-read book about Ecuador is Friedrich Hassaurek’s Four Years Among the Ecuadorians. Hassaurek was Pres. Lincoln’s ambassador to Ecuador. http://www.alibris.com/Four-years-among-the-Ecuadorians-Friedrich-Hassaurek/book/2429060