Books about Brazil – ones to read before you go

Picture of the bay of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The rumble of Rio de Janeiro, sipping mojitos in Sao Paulo – Brazil (Brasil or Brasilia) is a diverse, eclectic place that is alive with dance, music and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered in Latin America, if not the globe. As a self-professed bookworm but also an avid traveller, I believe the best way to prepare for a country is through its books. So, here are 7 of my favourite books about Brazil, a country I love which provides some fascinating fiction and some incredible Brazilian authors.

The Slum – Aluisio Azevedo

Against the backdrop of Rio, this book brings together two stories around immigration and love; and really brings the streets of the city to life with its rich storytelling and graphic descriptions. It’s one of the most widely-read novels about Brazil, and for good reason; the perfect start to your Brazil book reading jag!

K – Bernardo Kucinski

An award-winning book, it showcases the 1964 military coup in Brazil, chronicling a father’s search for his daughter. It provides great insight into 60’s Brazil, and a side of the country not often explored in literature.

Futebol Nation – David Goldblatt

Football is part of the DNA of Brazil – walking the streets of its cities you’re likely to see ‘soccer’ played on nearly every inch of open field (or beach), and its really a national pastime. This book about Brazilian football delves into the culture but also the darker past of the sport in the country. A perfect read against the backdrop of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Invisibles – Ed Siegle

What happens when a British dentist trades the English cold for Brazilian heat? Invisibles is a delicious book to read – a compelling narrative, descriptions that transport you into what feels like real-world Rio and local language that leaves you searching for your English-Portuguese translation app.

Ashes of the Amazon (Cinzas do Norte)- Milton Hatoum

Again, another award-winning work of fiction from a Brazilian writer. Hatoum has had a number of his novels translated into an English edition, which generally shows the quality of his work. Ashes is a story of rebellion and two boys (or men) – Mundo and Lavo. It’s an enjoyable book but if you are a sucker for a big ending, then this one is not for you.

City of God – Paulo Lins

Most famous for it’s film adaptation, this book is just as gritty as it’s movie counterpart. The dirt of the streets almost lifts off the pages, and you can hear the strains of samba as you make your way through this novel. A must-read book if looking to go to Brazil.

Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon – Jorge Amado

Amado is considered one of Brazil’s most prolific novelists and this book is known as his best. It transports you into the country and it’s history – the sights and the sounds – as you read about a young girl working in a kitchen who catches the eye of a few neighbourhood boys.

We hope you enjoyed our short list of the best of Brazil. Looking for book recommendations in other countries? Head over to our Best Travel Books section. Or if you have any recommendations for us, please drop us a line as we’d love to hear from you.


Want to keep this list handy? Pin it for later!

pinterest graphic for books about brazil

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *