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Suggested Reading

Costa Rica is a diverse and complex country – environmentally, culturally and socially - and reading a wide range of books about it is probably the best way to orient yourself before embarking on your vacation. Before you head out, you might want to check out some of the following titles.

The Mammals of Costa Rica: A Natural History and Field Guide. Mark Wainright. (Cornell University Press 2007)

Since it is difficult to visit Costa Rica without experiencing something of its ecological splendor, a field guide like this one by Mark Wainright is recommended for anyone interested in learning about the country's complex environment. Suitable for naturalists and amateurs alike, The Mammals of Costa Rica offers up detailed yet straight-forward descriptions of the wide array of creatures that make Costa Rica home. If you're lucky enough to spot an elusive jaguar on your jungle trek, it will be all the more satisfying it you already have a good working knowledge of the animal.

The Quetzal and the Macaw: The Story of Costa Rica’s National Parks. David R. Wallace. (Sierra Club Books, 1992)

This fascinating book tells how Costa Rica narrowly avoided losing all of its lush forests (and consequently, tourist attractions) to loggers and developers in the early-mid twentieth century. Fortunately for travelers, the environment was instead transformed into a national park system that ranks as one of the best in the world. David R.Wallace details the incredible diversity of life in the park system, as well as giving accounts of the social and political battles that surrounded the original establishment of the parks.

Culture Shock! Costa Rica. Claire Wallerstein. (Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2007)

This fun and informative guide to Costa Rican social etiquette is a great way to prepare yourself for those inevitable awkward moments when cultural differences collide. Replete with extremely practical tips such as where to carry your own toilet paper and how to work the showers, this book may prove to be the most useful thing you bring along on your trip.

The Laughing Falcon. William Deverell. (McClelland & Stewart, 2002)

Written by a Canadian author who spends most of his time in Costa Rica, this is the perfect novel to take along for a day of lounging on a beautiful white-sand beach. A murder mystery based on corruption and drama surrounding the tourist scene on the Pacific Coast, this page-turner also includes fascinating facts about the wildlife in the Tortueguero National Park, as well as some very useful tips for any Costa Rican tourist.

Tales of My Aunt Panchita (can be found in Latin American Women Writers: A Resource Guide to Titles in English). Carmen Lyra. ( The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2007)

Originally published in the 1920s, this collection of folktales, written by one of Costa Rica's predominant women writers, provides interesting insights into the tradition and culture of Costa Rica. Since they are stories told by a woman and transcribed by a woman, there is an interesting feminist edge on some of them as well.

04 Nov 2010

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