You can only thumb through that copy of Lonely Planet so many times. Whether you love fiction, non-fiction, history or romance there’s a book to get you in the mood for your Fijian holiday in paradise. From kava ceremonies gone awry to cannibalism and castaways, Fiji has been the setting for some of history’s greatest adventures. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry! We’ve got a few recommendations for you, whether you’re staying at a 5 star hotel or a beach bungalow.
1. Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu
Published in 2007, this wildly popular non-fiction travelog by J. Maarten Troost is equally hilarious and eye-opening. After leaving his job at the World Bank, Troost recalls the time he and his wife lived on the islands of Vanuatu and Fiji. With a light heart, he describes island life as rife with primitive transportation options and very big bugs. This book won’t teach you everything you need to know about Fiji before you visit but it is quick, easy and entertaining.[divider]
“Paradise was always over there, a day’s sail away. But it’s a funny thing, escapism. You can go far and wide and you can keep moving on and on through places and years, but you never escape your own life. I, finally, knew where my life belonged. Home.”
2. Kava in the Blood
Published in 1999, this memoir covers Fiji’s 1987 coup from the eyes of its author, Peter Thomson, Fiji’s current Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He lost his Fijian citizenship shortly after the coup, and yet has remained an active voice for this tiny island nation for decades. His book blends political facts with personal narrative so smoothly you hardly notice that you’re learning as you go along for the ride. Awarded the EH McCormick Award for the Best First Book of Non Fiction in 2000, the wild weather and strong kava haven’t changed a bit since publication.[divider]
“Uro!”, they call out on the street nowadays when someone takes their fancy. Not long ago it was “ba rewa!” and before that “nice bola!” But the author reminds us of the time when it was “kar shine!” shouted to the object of desire and “kar spark!” back in appreciation. That was in the days even before “Yedo Man” when we’d chew Bell Boy bubble gum and drop melting Topsies or Twin Pops on our clean shirts while having to stand for a crackly version of God Save the Queen before the “coming attractions” and “main feature” at the Phoenix, Regal or “New” Lilac.
3. Yesterday’s Child: Once Upon an Island in the Fijis
Fiji is one of the most romantic places on Earth. To get in the mood, dive into Wesley Halls’ WWII romance novel, set in quaint romantic Fiji of course. Jason wants to be a famous author and beau to southern belle Miss Howorth. Stranded on a Fijian island with the lovely lady, Jason can’t work on his novel but his chances of winning over the girl are greatly increased by the lack of other males on the island. Does he win the girl? Do they get off the island? Does he ever finish his novel?[divider]
“A violent shudder went through his upper body, and for a split second he thought He was certain she had pulled the trigger! He had not heard the muffled splat that he had been expecting; but something, perhaps it was only a nervous muscular spasm, had exploded inside his chest. Perhaps, if he had just listened, the god may have said, “Every gift comes with a price tag. The greater the gift the more dearly you must pay.”
4. Journeys to the Past
Published in 1983, this travelog is perfect for anyone seeking a bit of history – but not stuffy history of course. Sir David Attenborough, the British documentary film producer and voice of Planet Earth, traveled to Vanuatu and Fiji in the late 1950s — long before the rise of the 5 star hotel.
Much like his narrative voice, Attenborough’s account is full of stirring prose, colorful description, and the graceful way he handles the most outrageous encounters in the Pacific – as only a knight with a voice like honey could do. A glimpse into Fiji’s recent history, a young Attenborough takes his readers back in a way that’s both nostalgic and relatable.
“One of Nature’s lumber rooms, it is a place where antique outmoded forms of life that have long since disappeared from the rest of the world still survive in isolation…”