Baby, it’s freezing outside. Nothing is as satisfying in the gray winter months as getting into dry, warm clothes and curling up with a book, except of course curling up with a book that can put you into a warmer state of mind. Below are some great novels set in hot places:
A High Wind In Jamaica, by Richard Hughes
Hughes book follows seven kidnapped children and their pirate captors as they drift along the balmy seas of the Caribbean. In addition to beautiful descriptions of sticky, equatorial heat certain to thaw the chilly reader, the story also chronicles the habit young children have of responding to the bizarre or tragic as though it were quotidian. Fights between exotic animals, the death of a sibling, unpleasant sexual advances, and the possibility of never seeing home again are all regarded with unsettling and fascinating acceptance.
Galápagos, by Kurt Vonnegut
Meanwhile, on the Pacific side of South America, “The Nature Cruise Of The Century” has been shipwrecked on sunny Santa Rosalia, a small island in the Galapagos chain. The humans suffering this trapped-on-a-desert-island scenario do not realize they have accidentally been quarantined from the plague of infertility that promises to end mankind, nor that their offspring will evolve into a new, comfortably warm version of mankind.
Our Man In Havana, by Graham Greene
Having suffered the heat in many sweltering climes (such as Vietnam and Mexico), Greene developed a knack for describing its pleasures and perils. Our Man follows a hapless Havana vacuum salesman—a British expat and MI-6’s best man (due to a very limited pool) to keep an eye on anything developing in Cuba—as he negotiates the largely exaggerated world of espionage and Havana’s dusty, sweaty heat.
Tree Of Smoke, by Denis Johnson
Denis Johnson loves heat. This National Book Award–winning novel about misguided, lone-wolf style CIA involvement in the Vietnam War describes everything from the scorching white heat of Phoenix, Arizona, to the oppressive damp swelter of the Philippines. Another great factor in Tree Of Smoke are Johnson’s characters—especially CIA rookie Chip and his increasingly delusional uncle—and his unparalleled, straightforward prose.
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
This novel follows the growth of the four daughters of the Price family. Having left the sweltering heat of Georgia for the even more sweltering heat of the Belgian Congo with all of their belongings packed in carry-on bags, the girls adapt to Congolese culture in a way that their strict Southern Baptist father cannot. Narrated alternately by each child, Poisonwood will leave you with visions of crocodile-filled rivers, sunshiny days, and purposeful young women.