51 books like Ditch of Dreams

By Steven Noll, David Tegeder,

Here are 51 books that Ditch of Dreams fans have personally recommended if you like Ditch of Dreams. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Silent Spring

Elizabeth Randall Author Of An Ocklawaha River Odyssey: Paddling Through Natural History

From my list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in Florida since 1969, attended public school here, and received my Master’s degree from a state college. My husband, Bob Randall, a photographer and an entrepreneur, and I have written six nonfiction books about Florida. An Ocklawaha River Odyssey is our favorite. Kayaking the 56 miles of winding waterways became less of a research expedition and more of a spiritual journey as the ancient river cast its spell on us. From wildlife, including manatees and monkeys, to wild orchids and pickerelweed, the Ocklawaha provides more than exercise and recreation; it also touches your soul. I hope my writing and Bob’s photography provide that experience for our readers.

Elizabeth's book list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste

Elizabeth Randall Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Carson’s Silent Spring is full of unsettling environmental details, including the poisoning of species of birds by insecticides and politicians' proposals to use a nuclear bomb to form a dam. Although it was published in 1962, the book is even more relevant today, and I love that it is easy to read and gives environmentalists the facts they need to counter those who would poison and destroy wildlife and, ultimately, the environment.

By Rachel Carson,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Silent Spring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published by Houghton Mifflin in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. "Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations . . . [It is] well crafted, fearless and succinct . . . Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters" (Peter Matthiessen, for Time"s 100 Most Influential People of the Century). This fortieth anniversary edition celebrates Rachel Carson"s watershed…


Book cover of Majorie Harris Carr: Defender of Florida's Environment

Elizabeth Randall Author Of An Ocklawaha River Odyssey: Paddling Through Natural History

From my list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in Florida since 1969, attended public school here, and received my Master’s degree from a state college. My husband, Bob Randall, a photographer and an entrepreneur, and I have written six nonfiction books about Florida. An Ocklawaha River Odyssey is our favorite. Kayaking the 56 miles of winding waterways became less of a research expedition and more of a spiritual journey as the ancient river cast its spell on us. From wildlife, including manatees and monkeys, to wild orchids and pickerelweed, the Ocklawaha provides more than exercise and recreation; it also touches your soul. I hope my writing and Bob’s photography provide that experience for our readers.

Elizabeth's book list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste

Elizabeth Randall Why did Elizabeth love this book?

It is one of the few books about the woman who saved the Ocklawaha River (and the Florida aquifer) from the Cross Florida Barge Canal.

Marjorie Harris Carr, an unassuming woman from Micanopy, Florida, created the organization Florida Defenders of the Environment. It is an important sentry of environmental issues, including safeguarding the future of the Ocklawaha River.

By Peggy Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Majorie Harris Carr as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Elizabeth Randall Author Of An Ocklawaha River Odyssey: Paddling Through Natural History

From my list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in Florida since 1969, attended public school here, and received my Master’s degree from a state college. My husband, Bob Randall, a photographer and an entrepreneur, and I have written six nonfiction books about Florida. An Ocklawaha River Odyssey is our favorite. Kayaking the 56 miles of winding waterways became less of a research expedition and more of a spiritual journey as the ancient river cast its spell on us. From wildlife, including manatees and monkeys, to wild orchids and pickerelweed, the Ocklawaha provides more than exercise and recreation; it also touches your soul. I hope my writing and Bob’s photography provide that experience for our readers.

Elizabeth's book list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste

Elizabeth Randall Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I love this book because I learned so much about the quality and quantity of water in Florida. Because of this book and the knowledge I gained, I was able to publicly refute a former senator’s op-ed extolling the benefit of holding tanks for water underground, which, as Barnett explains, causes arsenic infiltration.

The quality of Florida’s water has been a serious concern since 2007 when the book was published and continues to be today. 

By Cynthia Barnett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mirage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part investigative journalism, part environmental history, Mirage reveals how the eastern half of the nation-historically so wet that early settlers predicted it would never even need irrigation-has squandered so much of its abundant freshwater that it now faces shortages and conflicts once unique to the arid West.

Florida's parched swamps and supersized residential developments set the stage in the first book to call attention to the steady disappearance of freshwater in the American East, from water-diversion threats in the Great Lakes to tapped-out freshwater aquifers along the Atlantic seaboard.

Told through a colorful cast of characters including Walt Disney, Jeb…


Book cover of Palmetto Country

Elizabeth Randall Author Of An Ocklawaha River Odyssey: Paddling Through Natural History

From my list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in Florida since 1969, attended public school here, and received my Master’s degree from a state college. My husband, Bob Randall, a photographer and an entrepreneur, and I have written six nonfiction books about Florida. An Ocklawaha River Odyssey is our favorite. Kayaking the 56 miles of winding waterways became less of a research expedition and more of a spiritual journey as the ancient river cast its spell on us. From wildlife, including manatees and monkeys, to wild orchids and pickerelweed, the Ocklawaha provides more than exercise and recreation; it also touches your soul. I hope my writing and Bob’s photography provide that experience for our readers.

Elizabeth's book list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste

Elizabeth Randall Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Stetson Kennedy, an environmental activist who extolled the beauty of Florida's reputation preceded him in this important book.

An influence on other writers of natural history, including Bill Belleville and Kennedy’s fourth wife Sandra Parks, the naturalist icon writes with humor and affection about his native state. Also, I love that he worked with Zora Neale Hurston on the Florida Writer’s project.

By Stetson Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Palmetto Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stetson Kennedy collected folklore and oral histories throughout Florida for the WPA between 1937 and 1942. The result was this classic Florida book, back in print for the first time in more than twenty years with an Afterword update and dozens of historic photographs never before published with this work. Alan Lomax said, "I doubt very much that a better book about Florida folklife will ever be written."


Book cover of From the Swamp to the Keys: A Paddle Through Florida History

Ernest Herndon Author Of Paddleways of Mississippi: Rivers and People of the Magnolia State

From my list on adventures on the water.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a longtime outdoors editor of a Mississippi newspaper, I actually got paid to paddle local rivers. Over the decades, I expanded my territory to adjacent states, the South, the continent, and other countries. I parlayed my experiences into several books on rivers. As a paddler and writer, I naturally love to read about adventures on the water–not only classics like Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi River and Paul Theroux's Happy Isles of Oceania but also the many less-known but highly praiseworthy books like those listed here.

Ernest's book list on adventures on the water

Ernest Herndon Why did Ernest love this book?

Johnny Molloy is surely one of the most prolific outdoor authors ever, with 85 books to his credit so far. Most of those are regional guidebooks, but he has also written a few first-person narratives of his journeys.

This one describes his canoe and kayak trip down the Suwannee River and along Florida's southwest coast to the Everglades. His down-to-earth style really puts you there.

I met Johnny when he was writing a guidebook to Mississippi's hiking trails. After a riverbank lunch of sardines, crackers, and sweet tea, we fired up cigars and swapped yarns. He was just like he sounds in his books–humble and down-to-earth.  

By Johnny Molloy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Swamp to the Keys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Johnny Molloy, author of several best-selling outdoor guides to Florida, is always game for adventure. In his latest, he travels the Sunshine State from north to south along some of its most famous rivers, swamps, salt marshes, and open waters in search of Florida's disappearing history. This personal travelogue of his two-month expedition begins in a canoe at the Okefenokee Swamp, headwaters of Florida's best-known river. Paddling the dark Suwannee, Molloy curves through the scenic and sometimes wild Big Shoals, past sparkling clear springs - Troy and Turtle and Rock Bluff and more - to the Gulf of Mexico, where…


Book cover of Stormy Weather

M.W. Craven Author Of Fearless

From my list on sidekicks in crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a British crime writer with a love of American crime fiction, particularly books with dark plots and quirky, unique characters. I am the author of the Sunday Times bestselling, multiple award-winning, Washington Poe series and the new Ben Koenig series but am first a reader—I read over a hundred books a year. I love discovering a new-to-me series that has a back catalogue for me to work through, and I appreciate recommendations. I’ve been a full-time author since 2015 and, as I suspected, it’s my dream job.

M.W.'s book list on sidekicks in crime fiction

M.W. Craven Why did M.W. love this book?

Carl Hiaasen’s Florida-set books are dark, clever, and ever so funny, with his perfectly drawn characters being eccentric, shady as hell, or just plain whack-a-doodle.

Sometimes all three at the same time. Most of his books are standalones but his one recurring character, the sidekick to lots of the books’ protagonists, is Clinton Tyree, the ex-governor of Florida. Tyree was one of the few honest men to hold that office, until one day, sick of the corruption, he simply vanished into the Everglades.

He appeared later as Skink, a one-eyed man at one with nature who dined on roadkill and engaged in the occasional act of ecoterrorism. He’s frequently the protector of Florida’s downtrodden. In Stormy Weather, he befriends Bonnie Lamb, an unhappy honeymooner, and kidnaps her new husband. 

By Carl Hiaasen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stormy Weather as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A hilarious and scathing novel from the author of Squeeze Me about a crazed and determined man who has devoted his strange existence to saving southern Florida from con artists and carpetbaggers after a hurricane hits.

'Hysterically funny.... Hiaasen at his satirical best' - USA Today

When a ferocious hurricane rips through southern Florida, insurance fraudsters, amateur occultists, and ex-cons waste no time in swarming over the disaster area. And caught in the middle are Max and Bonnie Lamb, honeymooners who abandon their Disney World plans to witness the terrible devastation. But when Max vanishes, Bonnie, aided by a mysterious…


Book cover of Snow Globe

Mavis Applewater Author Of Home For The Holidays

From my list on holiday romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award winning author who loves a good romance. I love when two unlikely people meet under challenging circumstance. Bringing these two characters together has been the basis of all fourteen of my books. Home For The Holidays took a series of short stories and blended two of my favorite events finding love and the holidays. 

Mavis' book list on holiday romance

Mavis Applewater Why did Mavis love this book?

In this holiday romance presented by Georgia Beers, Mackenzie Campbell is planning the perfect holiday wedding. Everything is on track until her fiancé dumps her. Shattered and confused she decides to go on her honeymoon. She enlists her best friend Allison to go along with her. Shedding the cold weather, they head to Florida. Kenzie doesn’t realize that the adventure is about to begin.

By Georgia Beers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Snow Globe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mackenzie Campbell has no idea her life is about to fall apart. She’s bright and attractive with a good job, a comfortable home and an impending Christmas wedding she’s been planning for months. So when her girlfriend bails less than two weeks before the nuptials, Kenzie’s picture perfect Christmas world begins to crumble around her.

Determined to hold on to at least some shred of her dignity, Kenzie snags her best friend, Allison, and flees the cold of the Northeast to take the honeymoon anyway. The Rainbow’s Edge is an enormous LGBT resort in Southern Florida, and its atmosphere of…


Book cover of A Land Remembered

Janie DeVos Author Of The Art of Breathing

From my list on the flawed but indomitable human spirit.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being a historical fiction writer, I spend much time researching people and places for my novels with my focus being on the South, particularly Florida, where I’m from, as well as Western North Carolina, where I’ve lived for nearly two decades. Family dynamics and character development have always held a special interest for me; particularly the humanness of being flawed, but also the resilience and strength found within us, too. I enjoy creating characters we can identify with, and become emotionally connected to, so much so that when the final page is turned, readers feel a sense of loss at saying goodbye to characters they’ve come to love.

Janie's book list on the flawed but indomitable human spirit

Janie DeVos Why did Janie love this book?

This quintessential historical fiction book on Old Florida was both a nominee of the Pulitzer, and the Nobel Prize in Literature. Rich in history and unforgettable characters, the story follows the MacIveys, as they scrap out a living as dirt farmers, beginning in the mid-1800s, through the 1960s. Not hurricanes, the Civil War, freezes, or near-starvation can staunch the family’s resilience, ultimately allowing them to build a great fortune. This novel truly touches my heart as my family came from Georgia, with little in their pockets, in the early 20th century, seeking to fulfill their own dreams. This is writing at its best, steeped in rich and authentic detail, making this a novel that will live on through the ages.

By Patrick D. Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Land Remembered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Land Remembered has been ranked #1 Best Florida Book eight times in annual polls conducted by Florida Monthly Magazine.

In this best-selling novel, Patrick Smith tells the story of three generations of the MacIveys, a Florida family who battle the hardships of the frontier to rise from a dirt-poor Cracker life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons. The story opens in 1858, when Tobias MacIvey arrives in the Florida wilderness to start a new life with his wife and infant son, and ends two generations later in 1968 with Solomon MacIvey, who realizes that the land…


Book cover of Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country

Jason Vuic Author Of The Swamp Peddlers: How Lot Sellers, Land Scammers, and Retirees Built Modern Florida and Transformed the American Dream

From my list on modern Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

Originally from Punta Gorda, Florida, I am an exiled Florida Man, living in Texas, and specialize in creative nonfiction. I love the absurd, the unusual, and enjoy finding ways to examine and teach history through unexpected topics and sometimes maligned or ridiculed things. My first book, for example, was on the infamous Yugo car. I then wrote a history of the ill-starred Sarajevo Olympics and the oh-for-twenty-six 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Bucs, and most recently a book on the wild heydays of Florida land development in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I have a PhD in history from Indiana University Bloomington and have appeared on NPR’s "Weekend Edition," APM’s "Marketplace," and C-SPAN’S "Book TV."

Jason's book list on modern Florida

Jason Vuic Why did Jason love this book?

To outsiders, Florida seems baffling. It's a state where the voters went for Barack Obama twice, yet elected a Tea Party candidate as governor. Florida is touted as a carefree paradise, yet it's also known for its perils—alligators, sinkholes, pythons, hurricanes, and sharks, to name a few.  It attracts 90 million visitors a year, some drawn by its impressive natural beauty, others bewitched by its man-made fantasies. Oh, Florida!, by award-winning journalist Craig Pittman, explores those contradictions and shows how they fit together to make this the most interesting state.

By Craig Pittman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oh, Florida! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To some people, Florida is a paradise; to others, a punch line. As Oh, Florida! shows, it's both of these and, more important, it's a Petri dish, producing trends that end up influencing the rest of the country. Without Florida there would be no NASCAR, no Bettie Page pinups, no Glenn Beck radio rants, no USA Today, no "Stand Your Ground,"...you get the idea.

To outsiders, Florida seems baffling. It's a state where the voters went for Barack Obama twice, yet elected a Tea Party candidate as governor. Florida is touted as a carefree paradise, yet it's also known for…


Book cover of Ninety-Two in the Shade

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From my list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Marshall Jon Fisher Why did Marshall love this book?

I re-read this early McGuane as I was researching my book, looking for details of South Florida life during the 1972 football season.

The protagonist, Thomas Skelton, comes home to Key West from Gainesville and sets out to become a fishing guide. It was written during, and takes place during, the fall of 1972, and Skelton’s dad even watches football in one scene.

But this Key West native isn’t interested in the perfect Dolphins—he’s a Packers fan! (This anomaly is explained, though not excused, by the fact that the author hailed from northern Michigan.)

I was enthralled, though, by some of McGuane’s best writing, and got this gem about the lure of South Florida: “…American bad actors who, when the chips are down, go to Florida with all the gothics and grotesqueries of chrome and poured-to-form concrete that that implies.” 

By Thomas McGuane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ninety-Two in the Shade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tiring of the company of junkies and burn-outs, Thomas Skelton goes home to Key West to take up a more wholesome life. But things fester in America's utter South. And Skelton's plans to become a skiff guide in the shining blue subtropical waters place him on a collision course with Nichol Dance, who has risen to the crest of the profession by dint of infallible instincts and a reputation for homicide. Out of their deadly rivalry, Thomas McGuane has constructed a novel with the impetus of a thriller and the heartbroken humor that is his distinct contribution to American prose.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, and presidential biography?

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