69 books directly related to Florida 📚

All 69 Florida books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

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

By Craig Pittman,

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

Why 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.


The Orchid Thief

By Susan Orlean,

Book cover of The Orchid Thief

Why this book?

A good book provides me with information, but it must also be entertaining and free of annoying jargon. This one became a bestseller after it appeared back in 1998, with good reason. In fact, I’ve read it three times (a rarity for me) and I always get a chuckle or two. Susan Orlean crafts a fascinating tale about the wonderful subculture of orchid fanciers in Florida. The writing is vivid, the characters she meets are off the wall, and I learned a lot about these weird, sometimes creepy flowers.


Snow Globe

By Georgia Beers,

Book cover of Snow Globe

Why 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.


Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida

By Gary R. Mormino,

Book cover of Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida

Why this book?

Gary Mormino ranges far and wide across the landscape and boundaries of a place that is at once America's southernmost state and the northernmost outpost of the Caribbean. From the capital, Tallahassee--a day's walk from the Georgia border--to Miami--a city distant but tantalizingly close to Cuba and Haiti--Mormino traces the themes of Florida's transformation: the echoes of old Dixie and a vanishing Florida; land booms and tourist empires; revolutions in agriculture, technology, and demographics; the seductions of the beach and the dynamics of a graying population; and the enduring but changing meanings of a dream state.


Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed an Ocean

By Les Standiford,

Book cover of Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed an Ocean

Why this book?

Last Train to Paradise is acclaimed novelist Les Standiford's fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West Railroad—one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. Brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler's dream fulfilled, the Key West Railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for more than twenty-two years, heralded as "the Eighth Wonder of the World." Standiford brings the full force and fury of 1935's deadly Storm of the Century and its sweeping destruction of "the railroad that crossed an ocean" to terrifying life.


Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh,

Book cover of Gift from the Sea

Why this book?

Anne Morrow Lindberg lived through the kidnapping and death of her child, the steady scrutiny of the press, and a husband who sympathized with the Nazis. She had to craft her own life amid turmoil and heartbreak.  But I didn’t know her full story when I first read this book in college. I was drawn to it for the power of wisdom she found while walking a Florida beach.

I’ve lived most of my life near the ocean and her powerful, timeless truths drawn from simple shells and sea life captured both my heart and imagination. Over the course of some 30 years, when I need to find insight and solace, I am drawn again to her book. I always read something that hits me in a different way. I’ve been so captured by her use of metaphor, that one of my books, Gifts from the Mountain, seeks to find wisdom from the world of backpacking!


Mile Marker Zero: The Moveable Feast of Key West

By William McKeen,

Book cover of Mile Marker Zero: The Moveable Feast of Key West

Why this book?

William McKeen’s account of the evolution of 1960s–1970s Key West reads like a novel. Based largely on his interviews with Tom Corcoran (who was there then and knew everybody), McKeen tells the wild tales of some of Key West’s most eccentric and now famous characters from that era, like Tennessee Williams, Thomas McGuane, Margot Kidder, Jim Harrison, Hunter Thompson, and Jimmy Buffett.


Florida Place Names: Alachua to Zolfo Springs

By Allen Morris,

Book cover of Florida Place Names: Alachua to Zolfo Springs

Why this book?

Allen Morris’s compilation of Florida places, by name, tells the stories of each—the origin of their names, their histories, and who settled them. It was published in 1995 but all the information is just as current today. It is a fascinating read and has been an invaluable history research tool for every one of my Florida books.


Wolf Hunt

By Jeff Strand,

Book cover of Wolf Hunt

Why this book?

Even the simplest jobs can turn out to be horrible. George and Lou are the nicest, most amiable underworld thugs you could meet. They just want to get their delivery job done and then go out for some beers and bowling. Except, the thing they don’t know is that their delivery consignment is a very angry werewolf. When it escapes, they are forced into a cat-and-mouse chase across Florida. No paycheck can be worth the horror and torment that Jeff Strand’s bloody comedy puts them through.


Flush

By Carl Hiaasen,

Book cover of Flush

Why this book?

I love Hiaasen’s humor and down-to-earth boy characters. In Flush, Noah is the adult in the father-son relationship. Normally I wouldn’t go for this in a story: Dads should lead by example, even in fiction. But I recognize that in real life that’s not always the case. Hiaasen’s YA novels are clean adventures that often include strong female characters, a solid moral (in this case preserving our environment), and make me want to read them again and again. I know some want to know how readers “feel” when they read a book. Not me. I’m more interested in the adventure and solving the puzzle (who is the bad guy and will he get caught?).


Does My Body Offend You?

By Mayra Cuevas, Marie Marquardt,

Book cover of Does My Body Offend You?

Why this book?

This is a YA novel told from the perspectives of two very different strong women. It’s part coming-of-age, part coming-of-action as they learn the best ways to affect change in their communities and how to voice their frustrations with the patriarchy. And we loved how it dealt with these issues in a nuanced and complex way that didn’t offer easy answers.


Go Gator and Muddy the Water: Writings From the Federal Writers' Project by Zora Neale Hurston

By Pamela Bordelon,

Book cover of Go Gator and Muddy the Water: Writings From the Federal Writers' Project by Zora Neale Hurston

Why this book?

Today, most people know Zora Neale Hurston as a novelist, thanks to her classic Their Eyes Were Watching God. But she was also an accomplished folklorist, anthropologist, playwright, and essayist. And yet, by the late 1930s, she was broke, and she found work with both the Federal Theater Project and Federal Writers’ Project. This book collects Hurston’s writing for the FWP in her home state of Florida, along with an incisive essay by Pamela Bordelon. The sheer variety of material on display here wasn’t unusual for the FWP: you’ll find essayistic meditations on folklife and art, collections of tall tales and children’s songs, and sketches of labor in the turpentine camps and citrus groves—as well as a chilling report on a racist massacre in Ocoee. 


Out of My Shell

By Jenny Goebel,

Book cover of Out of My Shell

Why this book?

Sea turtles fascinate me. I’ve had the joy of learning about them on trips to Central America and Mexico, and I was thrilled to discover this fabulous middle-grade novel on the topic. Twelve-year-old Olivia is on summer vacation in Florida, struggling to deal with her parents’ recent separation. When she realizes that the local sea turtle population is in danger, she feels called to act. She must find courage to defend the sea turtles while facing her own personal pain in the process. This is a wonderfully written story, accessible and relatable. It offers incredible information about sea turtles while providing a model for how kids can make a difference in protecting endangered species.


Bubble in the Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression

By Christopher Knowlton,

Book cover of Bubble in the Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression

Why this book?

The 1920s in Florida was a time of incredible excess, immense wealth, and precipitous collapse. The decade there produced the largest human migration in American history, far exceeding the settlement of the West, as millions flocked to the grand hotels and the new cities that rose rapidly from the teeming wetlands. The boom spawned a new subdivision civilization—and the most egregious large-scale assault on the environment in the name of “progress.”


Because of Winn-Dixie

By Kate DiCamillo,

Book cover of Because of Winn-Dixie

Why this book?

Kate DiCamillo has an amazing way of creating characters that are easy to fall in love with, including a dog named after a grocery store. My daughters and I loved this book, which sits prominently on our shelf of favorite books. This story is especially beautiful because of the main characters, Opal and her father. Both are struggling with the abandonment of Opal’s mother. This book deals with important themes of grief, hope, acceptance, loss, friendship, and the healing power of animals.


The Wilder Heart of Florida

By Jack E. Davis (editor), Leslie K. Poole (editor),

Book cover of The Wilder Heart of Florida

Why this book?

The Wilder Heart of Florida is a marvelous collection of essays on wild and natural Florida, selected and edited by Dr. Leslie Poole, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and History at Rollins College, and Dr. Jack Davis, Professor of History at the University of Florida. It is a second volume to the renowned 1999 The Wild Heart of Florida, and features insightful chapters penned by experts on real Florida, like Cynthia Barnett, Lauren Groff, Totch Brown, Lars Anderson, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Clay Henderson, as well as Jack Davis, and Leslie Poole, among others.


Cross Creek

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings,

Book cover of Cross Creek

Why this book?

Marjorie Rawlings is best known for The Yearling, but her autobiographical Cross Creek paints a vivid picture of rural north/central Florida in the 1920s and 1930s. It describes both her hard-scrabble life and her endearing connections to the people who live in the quiet back-woods hamlet of Cross Creek. Remarkably, even today this area is sparsely populated. Rawlings’ circa-1890 home and the surrounding property are now the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site.


Low Tide (The Forgotten Coast Florida Suspense Series)

By Dawn Lee McKenna,

Book cover of Low Tide (The Forgotten Coast Florida Suspense Series)

Why this book?

Dawn Lee McKenna is no longer with us, but she left a legacy of great thriller writing. This is the start for me to delve into her great characters and settings and really fall in love with what she wrote. You cannot go wrong with this series, which is 10 amazing books. Still one of my favorite series of books, set in Apalachicola Florida (where I’ve vacationed a few times and got to meet the author at one of her signings years ago, too!)


Fallen Out: A Jesse McDermitt Novel (Caribbean Adventure Series)

By Wayne Stinnett,

Book cover of Fallen Out: A Jesse McDermitt Novel (Caribbean Adventure Series)

Why this book?

Jesse McDermitt is the star of over twenty books in this series, and Wayne is still full of stories for his main character. This book sets the pacing and the storytelling for the entire series, and it takes you on a rollercoaster ride. Reading it, you can smell the fresh Florida Keys air and hear the waves crashing on the beach and against the side of a boat. A fantastic start to this series, which continues to impress me as well as a lot of other readers. Once you start the first one, you’ll dive into the rest. Guaranteed. 


Corpse Had a Familiar Face

By Edna Buchanan,

Book cover of Corpse Had a Familiar Face

Why this book?

In 1987, the year I first got serious about writing mystery fiction, Pulitizer prize-winning Miami Herald crime-reporter Edna Buchanan published this book on some of the 5,000 cases she’d covered. I’m a lawyer by training and knew the importance of getting the details right, and Edna’s book was my first training ground in real crime. Her wry humor made even tragic daily news readable and memorable—and she was a fierce lady who wrote not about cops or crime, but about people.


Low Tide

By Dawn Lee McKenna,

Book cover of Low Tide

Why this book?

Dawn Lee was a friend and an inspiration to me. Cancer took her from us way too soon, but she left behind a large legacy of great books that were set on the Gulf coast in the panhandle of Florida. Low Tide is the first book in her Forgotten Coast Florida Suspense series which launched her into the bestseller ranks. If you ask anyone who’s read her what makes her writing so special, they’ll all tell you it’s her uniquely crafted characters. The plots and the twists of her stories are top-notch as well, but the characters are simply amazing.


Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog

By John Grogan,

Book cover of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog

Why this book?

I love dogs so I’m probably biased, but Marley & Me is a life-affirming story about John and his unruly dog Marley. Since I’ve had dogs who are smart but don’t necessarily listen all the time, I could relate to this book. Marley wreaks havoc on John’s life but also brings his family joy and unconditional love. John and Marley’s story will make you laugh, and probably cry but in a happy way. 


Magic, Mensa & Mayhem

By Karina Fabian,

Book cover of Magic, Mensa & Mayhem

Why this book?

Fabian’s dragon Vern and magic Sister Grace, detectives for the human and Faerie world, take the reader on a fun-filled mission to chaperone a group of Magicals. While there they encounter all types of fantasy creatures that make their job that much more difficult. This story is an action-packed nonviolent mystery that leaves the reader laughing at the light jabs at contemporary organizations such as environmentalists and a few Catholic jokes sprinkled in. It gives the reader a respite from the darkness of today’s world events. And Vern is a great treat with his surly but comical attitude toward the world and his job as a babysitter.


Hoot

By Carl Hiaasen,

Book cover of Hoot

Why this book?

The renowned detective novelist brings his trademark snide sense of humor and gallery of hilariously twisted characters to Hoot, his first middle-grade effort and a Newbery Honor winner. Roy Eberhardt is a straight-arrow Montana transplant who finds himself face-to-face with real-world challenges and moral dilemmas after moving to Florida, where he teams up with a pair of quirky outsiders and a bumbling but well-meaning policeman to try to face down a greedy business owner who is about to destroy a burrowing owl habitat. Without resorting to facile moralizing, Hiaasen keeps the action light and fun while depicting Roy’s journey as he gradually learns how he might make a positive difference in the world.


Florida

By Lauren Groff,

Book cover of Florida

Why this book?

Humidity, rain, heat, and danger saturate this book: you can feel it. In “Midnight Zone,” a young mother has to summon all her power to protect her children from the panther that lurks outside in the dark. What could be a story about one woman dealing with her own limitations becomes one about the power and danger of mother-love. Groff’s book is filled with characters like this: steely, honest, and flawed, all at once. Above all, her women and children are much stronger and more resilient than you think. 


The Sea Horse Trade: A Nikki Latrelle Mystery

By Sasscer Hill,

Book cover of The Sea Horse Trade: A Nikki Latrelle Mystery

Why this book?

What’s not to like about a racehorse mystery written by a former amateur jockey, horse breeder, and mystery writer? The author, Sasscer Hill, also hails from my home state of Maryland! I’ve read all of her books, and this one, in particular, grabbed my attention due to the human trafficking aspect. Hill spins a good yarn while creating characters one loves or hates and places them authentically in the horse racing world. If you want heart-stopping action from start to finish, you will enjoy The Sea Horse Trade.


Alas, Babylon

By Pat Frank,

Book cover of Alas, Babylon

Why this book?

Growing up in Florida near the end of the Cold War, the looming threat of nuclear war was ever-present. We were even still doing nuclear attack drills in school. When this book was assigned reading for an English class, I had no idea how close to home it would hit. Survivors in a small town in Florida must survive the aftermath of a nuclear war. Ironically, the small town in the book was based on a town only a short drive from my own home. Witnessing the experiences of wholly ordinary people—people who could have been my own family, friends, and neighbors—thrust into an extraordinary situation was gripping and terrifying.


The World Without Us

By Alan Weisman,

Book cover of The World Without Us

Why this book?

When trying to imagine what would happen if civilization collapsed, you run up against some really basic, logistical details. Like, what actually happens to all our stuff, if no one's around to take care of it? Turns out, it falls apart a lot quicker than you'd think. Anyone who's noticed the grass and saplings coming up through the pavement in an abandoned lot after just a couple of years understands this. Now expand that to everything. Weisman's book asks questions about this post-people world I didn't even know to ask and the answers are fascinating.


Historical Memoir of the War: In West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15

By Arsène Lacarrière Latour,

Book cover of Historical Memoir of the War: In West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15

Why this book?

Originally published in 1816, this contemporary account of the battle by Jackson’s chief engineer is rich in detail and includes a valuable appendix of original documents. Although perhaps too favorable to Jackson, an account like this by someone who was there and in the know cannot be ignored.  In the new edition, Gene Smith has made some minor changes in Latour’s text and, more importantly, added some new documents. He also includes in a separate envelop the maps that accompanied the original edition


Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin

By Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin,

Book cover of Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin

Why this book?

Before their son died, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin never imagined speaking publicly or starting a movement. It was only after Trayvon, a seventeen-year-old Black boy walking home from the store, was shot and killed by a white man who claimed he felt threatened, that they realized they would have to fight for justice. No parent should know the loss of a child like this, but as the subtitle puts it, this is a “parents’ story of love, injustice, and the birth of a movement” and we have Fulton and Martin to thank for turning their grief into a call to action for us all.


The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise

By Michael Grunwald,

Book cover of The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise

Why this book?

During research for my book, I visited manmade wetlands in south Florida, built to filter farm runoff from the water before it flows into Everglades National Park. These constructed wetlands are thick with alligators, spoonbills, storks, hawks, and other wildlife—but they’re just an echo of the surviving Glades. Now among the most cherished natural areas on Earth, in the settlement era the Everglades was written off as wasted space. Early in the 20th century the northern half of the Everglades was drained and turned into sugar fields. Today polluted runoff from those farms threatens the surviving remnants of the Everglades ecosystem. 

Grunwald’s book shows the human quirks and greed that drove the Everglades’ destruction, and that sometimes get in the way of its restoration.


Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida

By Catherine Ryan Howard,

Book cover of Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida

Why this book?

Don’t be put off by the title. This is a funny, perceptive, deep dive into the workings of Disneyland. I’ve been to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida, and wondered about the inner life of this well-run American cultural phenomenon. I was surprised by some of what I learned – think the Great Wizard of Oz behind the curtain -- and enjoy the voice of this intrepid and funny author.


Running

By Natalia Sylvester,

Book cover of Running

Why this book?

When fifteen-year-old Cuban American Mariana Ruiz’s father runs for president, Mari starts to see him with new eyes. Throughout his successful political career, he has always had his daughter’s vote, but the campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to Mariana and the rest of her Cuban American family. As Mari begins to learn about the details of her father’s political positions—particularly some very questionable stances on the environment— she realizes that her father is not the man she thought he was. As the climate crisis escalates around them in Florida, she begins to connect with activist teens.

I love how this novel traces a young woman’s political awakening, and how sometimes standing up for what you believe in begins with standing up to your family.


The Retreat: Pandemic

By Craig DiLouie, Stephen Knight, Joe McKinney

Book cover of The Retreat: Pandemic

Why this book?

This book is the first part of a limited series by some of the biggest names in the genre. They’ve teamed up to bring you zombies that are absolutely insane. There were multiple times in the book where my jaw dropped in unexpected shock or I jumped in my chair at these zombies. I just have to say, if these zombies take over Earth, we are screwed. These zombies will maim, eat, and do many, many other horrible things to us and have a blast doing it. If you’re in the mood for a high-octane zombie book that stars the most disturbing zombies out there, read this book. 


The Deep Blue Good-By

By John D. MacDonald,

Book cover of The Deep Blue Good-By

Why this book?

I read this, the first in MacDonald’s Travis McGee series, as a teenager, and have been hooked on the series ever since. It was the characterization that did it. McGee is a loose-limbed, laid-back knight in dented armor, living on a houseboat called The Busted Flush (yes, he won it in a poker game) in Fort Lauderdale.

He even inspired the legendary Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.


Stephen Florida

By Gabe Habash,

Book cover of Stephen Florida

Why this book?

This first-person tale of a North Dakota wrestler chasing glory in his senior season isn't what you think it is as you spend a couple of hundred pages in the mind of a kid who is obsessive, hilarious, and above all, lonely. I know jack about wrestling but the sports sequences are engrossing because it's less about what's happening and more about Stephen's reaction to what's happening. Also criminally underrated.


Squeeze Me

By Carl Hiaasen,

Book cover of Squeeze Me

Why this book?

I find the books by Florida’s Hiaasen to be hysterical with a clown car of memorable characters. In Squeeze Me he pokes fun at a president and first lady that is not far from the truth. Someone or something has killed a prominent high-society dowager and others. It will take Angie, a pest control specialist to solve the mystery. Laughing just thinking about this book.


Here in the Real World

By Sara Pennypacker,

Book cover of Here in the Real World

Why this book?

I felt so much kinship with Ware, the introverted hero of this story, I kept reading out loud to my family the things he said and thought and felt. When Ware’s parents tell him he’ll need to spend the summer at forced-group-togetherness Rec camp, I moaned in horrified sympathy. When they tell him he’ll temporarily have to live in the glassed-in back porch, I wailed with Ware, “It’s not a room if it doesn’t have walls!” I was over the moon when Ware discovers a way to navigate his life so his needs are met. 


Sunny Side Up

By Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm (illustrator),

Book cover of Sunny Side Up

Why this book?

Sunny is spending the summer with her grandfather in his retirement community after the family’s plan of a beach vacation is cancelled. I loved the connection between Sunny and her grandfather. Neither one was counting on this long visit and they both make the best of it. At first, it seems there is nothing much for Sunny to do. Luckily she meets the only other kid in the community and they become good friends, bonding over his beloved comics collection. 

But there are things Sunny sees and doesn’t tell, secrets that weigh on her, troubling memories of home. From funny moments to poignant ones, I couldn’t put this book down. 


The Whole Truth

By Nancy Pickard,

Book cover of The Whole Truth

Why this book?

Nancy Pickard is one of my favorite authors, starting with her Jenny Cain series. The Whole Truth, featuring true-crime writer Marie Lightfoot, was a shift for her. The novel simultaneously follows Marie as she researches the case of a dangerous serial killer and as she writes about it, which gives an interesting insight into the difficulties of living in a world where crime is real.


Black and Blue

By Anna Quindlen,

Book cover of Black and Blue

Why this book?

This story of a wife’s escape from her abusive husband is harrowing, but it’s ultimately a message of bravery and hope. I felt I was walking around inside Frannie’s body, feeling her pain and the desperation of her situation. Her courage in fleeing her home and taking on new identities for herself and her son taught me a powerful lesson about facing my fears head-on, for the sake of my own emotional health and that of my children. I read this book over a decade ago, but its portrayal of incredible female strength and tenacity has stuck with me over the years.


The Lonely Silver Rain

By John D. MacDonald,

Book cover of The Lonely Silver Rain

Why this book?

This is the last book in the famed Travis McGee series that MacDonald wrote before his death in 1986. At the time, this was the ultimate coastal adventure series, and it cultivated a lifelong obsession for me in this genre. I wish there had been more installments, but it wasn’t meant to be. Throughout the series MacDonald’s style continually evolved and improved, ending with his having become the dean of all the living coastal writers of the time. If you ask the top-ranked coastal adventure writers of today to list three authors that inspired their work and/or styles, MacDonald will always be at or near the top.


A Beautiful Truth

By Colin McAdam,

Book cover of A Beautiful Truth

Why this book?

A childless couple adopts a chimpanzee named Looee, and you already know from reading that sentence that it will lead to trouble and heartbreak. After a few pages, I didn’t care. In McAdam’s skilled hands, the inevitable sadness doesn’t matter, because the delicately handled point of view perfectly captures a doomed creature trapped between two opposing identities. In contrast, we also meet Podo, an alpha chimp at a research facility seeking to test the intelligence of primates. Podo is fully ape, but he is turning into something more. Their paths soon join, taking them deeper into a gray area between human and animal that I had never seen rendered on the page so vividly before. 


The Dressage Chronicles

By Karen McGoldrick,

Book cover of The Dressage Chronicles

Why this book?

This true-to-life series follows dressage rider, Lizzy, who gives up her job, her boyfriend, and her whole life in order to become a working student with a top trainer. It has a great cast of authentic characters, both humans and horses, and the training parts are spot on. A very enjoyable series.


Persephone's Mare

By Iza Moreau,

Book cover of Persephone's Mare

Why this book?

For readers who love fantasy, the story of Persephone and her discovery of the magical world of Equidona will be a favorite. After the sudden and inexplicable loss of her mother, who was a devoted horsewoman, Persephone finds herself swept into a world in which horses are at the center of a society at a crossroads. The widespread use of magic has put people at odds with some of the longest and most cherished traditions of horsemanship. Persephone must discover her own powers in order to help control the forces that killed her mother. I love this story for its careful sketching of the values of a life with horses. LGBTQ theme.


Nightmare in Pink: A Travis McGee Novel

By John D. MacDonald,

Book cover of Nightmare in Pink: A Travis McGee Novel

Why this book?

MacDonald wrote twenty-one novels in his classic Travis McGee series, which has been praised by many best-selling writers, from Dean Koontz to Lee Child, Sue Grafton to Stephen King, as foundational to their own careers. This one’s my favorite.

Travis is in New York City to find out what happened to his old friend’s sister’s fiancé. Her fiancé is dead. She’s prickly and resistant to dredging up the past.

As Travis untangles a massive financial crime, he’s drugged and put in a mental hospital. Can he free himself and expose the truth?

I guess I like this one best because chemically-induced hypnosis is a frequent subject of my own series. Full of action, serious questions about the human mind, romance, and fun.


Tourist Season

By Carl Hiaasen,

Book cover of Tourist Season

Why this book?

Everybody has a South Florida story they’ll tell about the wilds of Miami. Carl Hiaasen outdoes most of them. Body parts are washing up on the shores of Dade County Is it a hungry crocodile? Maybe not. Some of the body parts are in a suitcase and a lot of the players may not be playing it straight.


Earthly Possessions

By Anne Tyler,

Book cover of Earthly Possessions

Why this book?

After much soul-searching, Charlotte Emory resolves to leave the motley cast of characters that make up her family in Clarion, Maryland. Her plans are foiled, however, by happenstance. When she goes to cash her getaway cheque, she becomes entangled with robber Jake Simms, who takes her hostage and spirits her south to Florida. Forks in the road abound in this novel, figurative and literal. In the end, however, and through sheer force of character, Charlotte bids farewell to Jake in particular and happenstance in general. She returns to her family, having made up her mind to take only those paths in life which reflect her true character and ensure that she is the wife and mother she should really be.


Broken Trust

By Brooke Burton,

Book cover of Broken Trust

Why this book?

It starts with Broken Trust, but Brooke writes such realistic characters and situations, you forget it's fiction. She writes Sweet with Heat, a genre that's not too smutty but certainly isn't afraid to mention the sex. It's been great working with her and reading her work and I wonder just what situation she's dreamt up for the brothers this time!


Shadow Legion: New Roads to Hell

By Thomas Deja, Chris Kemple (illustrator), Mike Fyles (illustrator)

Book cover of Shadow Legion: New Roads to Hell

Why this book?

If your superhero tastes run more to the weird and dark, this is definitely in your wheelhouse. Deja’s Shadow Legion could best be described as “superhero noir.” It’s got aspects of the supernatural and horror mixed in with pulp hero archetypes and intriguing interpretations of classic super powers. Plus, it features one of the best villains in any piece of superhero media, bar none.


Red Thunder

By John Varley,

Book cover of Red Thunder

Why this book?

Set in the near future, this novel imagines that the Americans and Chinese are racing to get to Mars. Meanwhile, a group of teenagers team up with an astronaut forced to retire in disgrace. One of the teens has invented a new type of drive that might just allow them to beat both governments to Mars. The book is fast-paced, fun, and shows how a team can come together to solve a problem, without ignoring the very real dangers of space travel. It also gives a nod to how technology developed for space travel can help us right here on Earth.


Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Why this book?

This is the book that, after three years of a long and often turgid English degree, made me fall back in love with reading. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on boardis there a better opening line in the English language? The novel tells the story of Janey, an African American woman in Florida in the 1920s, and her three husbands. A candidate for shaming and marginalisation if ever there was one. But Janey resists every constraint that society seeks to impose on her. I read this book whenever I need a good weep. 


Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812-1815

By Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr.,

Book cover of Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812-1815

Why this book?

This traditional account of Jackson’s war against the Creeks and the British does a good job of tying together these two wars and showing how Jackson’s success in the first led seamlessly to his role in the second. A little dated but still rewarding.


Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

By Celia C. Pérez,

Book cover of Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

Why this book?

Strange Birds had me at “rebel scout troop.” Four girls from different backgrounds form a secret scout troop in a treehouse and rally around a unique cause. Their town’s prominent girls’ group, The Floras, crowns the winner of the Miss Floras pageant with a vintage feathered hat. Bird-loving Cat Garcia, a Floras member herself, is outraged that millions of wild birds were sacrificed for such lavish hats, before the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 made killing birds for feathers illegal. The girls come up with creative environmental activism tactics to end the Floras’ misguided tradition, with a bit of mayhem along the way. Inspiring, thoughtful, hopeful. Bonus: backmatter with birdwatching tips, DIY badges, and an extensive bibliography about bird conservation gives the novel a “field guide” vibe.


Get Shorty

By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of Get Shorty

Why this book?

Chilli Palmer, the main man in Get Shorty, is an unforgettable character capable of thinking way outside the box and acting on it. The book keeps the reader off balance as Leonard introduces one far-out character after another. The fast-paced novel takes liberal swipes at characters trying to make it in Hollywood.


Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami Before 1940

By Julio Capó,

Book cover of Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami Before 1940

Why this book?

Move over New York and Providence, Julio Capó illuminates in this dazzling book about queer life in Miami before World War II how an important early twentieth-century gay community emerged at the intersection of tourism, migration, and trade around the Caribbean. He not only provides a fascinating account of gay Miami but uses that community to tell a wider story about the history of the region.


The Random House Book of Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Vol. 1

By Roger Phillips, Martyn Rix,

Book cover of The Random House Book of Indoor and Greenhouse Plants Vol. 1

Why this book?

Written originally for Great Britain, this book (and also Volume II) describes plants that grow outdoors in California's mediterranean climate. You will delight in recognizing old friends and discovering new plants that grow well in our region. There is a photograph of each plant in its native habitat and information on its basic care. An index in Volume II includes the plants in Volume I as well.


Bark, George

By Jules Feiffer,

Book cover of Bark, George

Why this book?

This is my all-time favorite read-aloud. And not just because it features a veterinarian! George the puppy’s mom is disappointed with him because he doesn’t bark. She brings him to the vet for help. On each page, the vet asks George to bark, but instead he makes an incorrect animal’s sound. When George “meows” the vet reaches down inside of George and pulls out a… Yes, you guessed it – a cat! Kids can anticipate and call out which animals the vet will extract from poor George on each page turn. Hilarity ensues. And, in the final spread, something completely unexpected and unexplained happens, perfect for a great post-book discussion. This one never fails to captivate a group of kids—which is really why I adore it.


The Everglades: River of Grass

By Marjory Stoneman Douglas,

Book cover of The Everglades: River of Grass

Why this book?

Miami Herald columnist and author Marjory Stoneman Douglas can rightfully be described as the woman who saved the Everglades. The Everglades: River of Grass was published in 1947, the same year Everglades National Park opened. For over fifty years Douglas fought tirelessly against human encroachment on the Everglades and devoted nearly all her time to explain how vital it was to the entire state of Florida. In the 1960s (while in her late seventies) she became involved with the Audubon Society of Miami’s efforts to halt the building of an international airport in the Everglades. She also formed the Friends of the Everglades, an organization that is still today one of the most powerful voices for the area’s preservation. Proving that good people do not always die young, Marjory Stoneman Douglas passed away in 1998 at the age of 108.


Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

By Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell (illustrator),

Book cover of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Why this book?

Clever, comic-book reading, word-loving Flora is more cynical than ever since her parents’ separation. She’s sure her mother loves a shepherdess lamp more than her own daughter. When Flora saves a squirrel sucked up by a neighbor’s vacuum and he returns with super strength and the ability to understand language and write poetry, she finds a kindred spirit. I love this book for its colorful (human and squirrel) characters and subtle exploration of family dynamics. And I love that Flora’s journey, which is emotional rather than physical, isn’t wrapped up with a tidy bow at the end.


Gross Misconduct: The Life of Spinner Spencer

By Martin O’Malley,

Book cover of Gross Misconduct: The Life of Spinner Spencer

Why this book?

The night Brian Spencer first played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, his father was angry that the local TV station was airing another game. After driving to the station with a gun and forcing the staff to show the Leaf game, he died in a stand-off with the RCMP. “Spinner” played 553 NHL games, but life after hockey wasn’t easy. In 1988, a year after his acquittal on kidnapping and murder charges, he died from a gunshot during a drug-related robbery in Florida. O’Malley is an excellent journalist and this is a powerfully told story of a tragic life. 


Bright Orange for the Shroud

By John D. MacDonald,

Book cover of Bright Orange for the Shroud

Why this book?

I could list almost any of the color-coded McGee series, but this one stands out: McGee helps an old buddy bankrupted by a real estate swindle. Vicious bad guys, rapists, killers, a tense stand-off and truly grisly ending for the bad guy -- yay! What makes this one special is Mac’s evocation of a rural Florida being devoured by greedy developers, a theme even more developed in Pale Gray for Guilt, 1968, where a buddy has been murdered because he refused to sell his waterfront property and … but that’s enough McDonald. If there is such a thing.


Escape from the Everglades

By Tim Shoemaker,

Book cover of Escape from the Everglades

Why this book?

This book takes readers into the swamps of Florida where wild things eat people. I’m a huge fan of Carl Hiaasen, Dave Barry, and John D. McDonald, all of whom write (or wrote in the case of McDonald) about south Florida. So it’s great to find a YA book for boys set in the Everglades. Like with most of Tim’s books, the characters push the boundaries of what they know to be right, but do not cross the line. Boys take chances. Or at least the boys I grew up with did. We explore the outdoors, go it alone, test things, break things, and often get trapped in situations of our own making. Escape from the Everglades allows me to enjoy being a kid again without, you know, getting gobbled by a gator.


Don't Date Rosa Santos

By Nina Moreno,

Book cover of Don't Date Rosa Santos

Why this book?

Don’t Date Rosa Santos is one of the only books I’ve ever been able to read more than once (I’ve read it three times!). It made me laugh and cry and hug the book to my chest. I still am not over this book, and may never be! It’s my all-time favorite comfort read. 


Nightbooks

By J. A. White,

Book cover of Nightbooks

Why this book?

I’ve described this half-jokingly to adult horror fans as “baby’s first Misery.” When young Alex is kidnapped by a wicked witch named Natacha, he must tell her a new scary story every night... or face the consequences. More than a fun, shivery adventure, this book Is a godsend to kids who love scary stories, assuring them that there’s nothing weird or wrong about their interests (and scaring them silly in the process). Even if your children have seen the movie, the book adds new layers to the story and its themes, and it’s delightful to hear Kirby Heyborne offering a different take on the characters’ voices; I will never be able to read Natacha’s dialog without hearing his unhinged shrieking in my head.


Getting Old Is Criminal

By Rita Lakin,

Book cover of Getting Old Is Criminal

Why this book?

Getting Old is Criminal by Rita Lakin is the third of seven books in the Gladdy Gold series and my personal favorite. How can I not love an amateur detective whose motto is “Never trust anyone under seventy-five”? One minute Gladdy is soaking in a hot tub on a romantic getaway with her new boyfriend, the next she is called to the bedside of a sick friend, who is not so sick after all and in a flash someone hires her to investigate the man he believes may have killed his mother. During the investigation, Gladdy’s sister Evvie begins to fall for the suspected killer. Now, aren’t you dying to know more?


How to Catch a Prince

By Rachel Hauck,

Book cover of How to Catch a Prince

Why this book?

I feel like Rachel Hauck is the queen of royal fiction in the Christian romance genre. She was the first author I read in the genre to have royals which made me a huge fan. There’s such elegance in her writing but also humor, a swoony hero, and a heroine to cheer for. Not to mention her covers are all awesome for her Royal Wedding series. I couldn’t make a royal recommendation list without her on it.


Devil in the Baptist Church: Bob Gray's Unholy Trinity

By Tim Gilmore,

Book cover of Devil in the Baptist Church: Bob Gray's Unholy Trinity

Why this book?

This book comes out with a story about the consequences of Temptation in a close and personal way. Both books must bring the fear of the Lord into the denominator, so anyone at the top, any pastor or Priest, must plant his feet on a solid foundation: the rock of Jesus Christ.

The scandal of Bob Gray, the Pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church and the founder of the Trinity Baptist academy in Jacksonville, Florida, depicts how Satan is always hovering around to make God's anointed people fall like a bag of cement. These stories indicate why every Pastor or religious leader must be engaged, close to, or have access to pastoral and regular therapeutic counseling.  

There must be as many therapists close to a man like this as many parishioners. As the achievement of a man of God intensifies, so must be the need for him to talk about his conscious and unconscious motivation, wishes, and impulses.


Champions Way: Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

By Mike McIntire,

Book cover of Champions Way: Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

Why this book?

I’m conflicted, two of my three kids went to Florida State and this book holds nothing back about the crimes and sins that have taken place at FSU. I felt like I was witness to a crime scene; the crimes were academic, cultural, and truly criminal. I completely believe that our higher education system is critical to our country, yet what takes place at these schools is an outrage. This is a book written by a talented journalist who took me on an objective tour of the hypocrisy we are willing to allow for our tribe to dominate.