I find myself currently living on the little island of South Caicos. If you haven’t heard much about South Caicos, that’s because there are only two resorts with three restaurants between them both and then two other places to eat in town, one of which is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings. Everything, and I mean everything, comes to this island via a tiny aircraft (that has to buzz the runway to clear it of donkeys before landing) twice a day, or via a boat that comes whenever it needs to come. There are no libraries. There are no bookshops. There are no shops, period.

 

Books set on tropical islands reading plane island hopping

 

As someone who regularly reads almost 100 books a year (Why, you ask? See the paragraph above.), I realize that a Kindle, especially the fancy new waterproof one Amazon keeps recommending to me, would solve a lot of my problems. But alas, I cannot bring myself to buy one. I like the feel of a book, I like the smell, I like seeing my progress as the pages go by. I like the heft, and I like that I don’t need to charge a battery to read. I work on computers all day long – there are enough plugs in my life already.

Don’t get me wrong, I use my devices. Goodreads and I are BFFs. I’ve found several bookish friends through both that and the #bookstagram community on Instagram. Online book clubs, reading groups, you name – I’ve got access to it all through island wifi. But access to actual books? Not so much.

So here, in an attempt to amuse the bookish among my fellow islanders, are the lengths to which I’ve gone to get books to this island…

 

Book Mules

Not to be confused with drug mule (a more common term here in the Caribbean), the idea is much the same. You come to this island? Partake in the hospitality we provide you? You bring books. I’ll pay for them and send them via Amazon, but you must mule them. This has been successfully carried out by family, friends, and people from the resort’s corporate office in Chicago who pop in every now and then.

 

Extra Suitcase

When either myself, my boyfriend, or the both of us happen to be in the US for a night, even in transit, we will carry an extra suitcase just for books. The last haul included at least 24 of them (proof here). Explaining your reading habits at Customs is another story, but (knock on wood) so far, so good.

 

Hotel Guests

No, I don’t steal their books, but I do set up a “book exchange table” every now and then, hawk the ones I’ve already read, get them talking about their favorite reads, and then they usually end up feeling so sorry for my predicament that they leave me their books, finished or not. My most recent acquisitions via this method include Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind and Lincoln on the Bardo.

 

Getting Books to Islands South Caicos islanders funny island reading beach reads

 

Writing About Books

And finally, I’ve gone so far as to use my business website to publish articles on why resorts need libraries. Not the take a book, leave a book kind (which are awesome, and I’ve read all the ones here already), but proper, curated libraries. What a beautiful world it would be if every island hotel had a library! A girl can dream.

 

–   –   –

 

Are you a fellow reader on a rock? How do you keep yourself stocked in reading material on your island?

Sara Lynn Burnett

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Lucia

Island Girl Since:

2006

Originally Hails From:

Hawaii & Texas

Faced with the choice of using her college degree to find a “career” somewhere on the US mainland or moving to an island, as soon as her tasseled graduation cap hit the ground, she was on her way to Honolulu. A little under a decade later Sara found herself on a press trip in Saint Lucia and hired by a resort there to create destination marketing content and materials. One thing led to another and after too many 24-hour commutes from Hawaii to Saint Lucia + a Trinidadian boyfriend to call her own, she sorted her possessions into “worth the cost of shipping” or not piles and made her way across the Pacific.

Since then, she has created a hospitality & tourism consulting business, Coral Range, that keeps her island hopping, lived on Abaco in the Bahamas for a year, learned to cook everything from bodi to salt fish, and fully embraced the Caribbean lifestyle – though her chipping and wining will always need some work.

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