Reading in Cuba is not a past time, for the simple reason that books are not readily available. The stores are filled with propaganda and Castro written tomes, but fiction and quality non-fiction do not exist.
For this reason, whenever I read while in Cuba, my family is confused. I have taken many books down in Spanish, only to find them unread and unloved. This is a characteristic of many people around the world, but as a voracious consumer of books it baffles me.
This month, April 2017, I was reading City of Light. It is a novel by Lauren Belfer about the City of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
One of the family members does often ask about the content of my book, but it leads to a one or two sentence conversation at best. City of Light was different. Jose Maria Heredia wrote a poem about Niagara, and the Cubans know the poem. They do not understand what it is about, they have no idea what Niagara Falls is, but they know the poem because a Cuban wrote it. If you are interested in Heredia and the poem you can read all about it here.
I am fully aware of the fact that there are many highly educated people in Cuba, but my family is not among them. Their schooling is poor and infrequent, which I have written about here. The week I was reading City of Light, the children in the house attended no more than 10 hours of school over the course of the week. That is not enough hours to do much more than take attendance, and give 15 minutes or so of propaganda, hardly a way to instill the love of learning.
If you think you are going to be staying in Casa Paticulars or meeting school children as a part of your package tour, please take books in Spanish. Take them for all ages, and don’t forget the teachers, they would enjoy books to read as much as books to read to their students.