Interested in learning about Cuban culture?
There’s so much more to this Caribbean island than cigars, vintage cars and picturesque beaches. To truly understand the heart and soul of Cuba, try diving into some of these books and movies. You’ll be rewarded with insight into the country’s rich history, diverse traditions and the resilience of its people.
Moon Handbook Cuba by Christopher Baker
This indispensable guidebook is one of the best guidebooks on Cuba. It leaves no stone unturned as it covers the history of Cuba and the natural, cultural and political life of the Cuban people.
Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know by Julia Sweig
Director for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Sweig traces the geography, history and identity of Cuba in this succinct history of the island nation and its role in world affairs.
Cuba Revelations by Marc Frank
This is an insightful, in-depth look at contemporary Cuba, written by a reporter who has lived in Havana for many years.
Havana by Alfredo Jose Estrada
One of the best books on the rich history of Havana. Estrada writes in a narrative historical form and can sometimes be too informational, but it is still a great read for anyone visiting this beautiful city.
Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia
This is a short, poetic novel about three generations of Cuban women, their reaction to the revolution and the complex relationship between those who remained in Cuba and those who settled in the United States.
Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire
A lyrical memoir of a privileged, eccentric boyhood in 1950s Havana. Eire, a historian at Yale, fled with his brother to the United States in the wake of the revolution.
The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
This classic book captures the poignant tale of an aging Cuban fisherman who is determined to prove his worth by engaging in an epic battle with a giant marlin in the deep waters of the Gulf Stream. It was written by Hemingway while he was living in Cuba.
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
This is the story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman who accidentally gets drawn into cold war espionage with disastrous results.
Cuba and Its Music, From the First Drums to the Mambo by Ned Sublette
A thorough and entertaining history of Cuba and its music by the popular radio producer, music historian and co-founder of Cuban record label QbaDisc.
Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba By Tom Gjelten
Gjelten chronicles the rich intersection of power and politics and community and exile in contemporary Cuba through the saga of the Bacardis. This family was a fixture in making 1920s Havana a playground for the rich and famous during prohibition.
The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba’s Last Tycoon By John Paul Rathbone
Drawing on stories from the author’s own family history and other tales of the island’s lost haute bourgeoisie, this book is a rare portrait of Cuba’s glittering past and a hopeful window into its future.
Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost it to the Revolution By T.J English
This is an interesting account of the mob’s role in Cuba in the 1950s and their subsequent descent and exit from the island after the revolution.
Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate)
This film was nominated for an Oscar and tells the story of two men in Cuba who fall in love with each other.
Before Night Falls
This movie documents the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas.
This is a highly recommended documentary describing the architecture of the Institute of Superior Arts in Havana.
The Man of Two Havanas
This documentary describes the life and happenings of Max Lesnik, a revolutionary who left Cuba and who created an uproar with his outspoken nature of the Revolution. An excellent documentary.
This documentary follows the lives of thirteen ordinary Cubans as they set out about their day. Interestingly enough, it has no dialogue.
Seven Days in Havana
Directed by Benicio Del Toro, this film is set in Havana and plays out a week for various individuals in the capital city.
Cuba and the Cameraman
This is a light documentary about a traveler and his twenty-year journey through Cuba.
Four Seasons in Havana
This series about fictitious murder mysteries includes wonderful shots of Havana.