Florida Reads: Summer Reading List

Authors flock to Florida for its inspiring locations and colorful characters—and the pleasant writing weather doesn’t hurt. Familiarize yourself with some of today’s hottest Floridian writers, as well as those who once called the state home, with our Florida Reading List.

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler

Butler is a Floridian not by birth but rather by profession—he is a writing professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Known for his short stories steeped in realism, his 1992 collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The Yearling | Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 

Rawlings wrote her 1938, Pulitzer Prize–winning The Yearling in her Cross Creek cottage, located between Ocala and Gainesville. Suitable for all ages, the novel is about a young boy and his pet deer and is a reflection on nature and coming of age in 1800s Florida.

Their Eyes Were Watching God | Zora Neale Hurston 

Hurston grew up in the Central Florida town of Eatonville—her father even became mayor in 1897. Her most lauded work is set in the same region in the early twentieth century and explores themes prevalent in Hurston’s own life, such as racism and women’s rights.

Along Came a Spider | James Patterson 

Nestled between musicians and business executives with comparable net worths, Patterson has become one of Palm Beach’s most famous residents. He’s written enough books to fill multiple summer reading lists, but Along Came a Spider is the first installment in his Alex Cross series.

Stormy Weather | Carl Hiaasen 

Hiaasen just might be the quintessential Florida writer. Born and raised in the state, most of his novels and young-adult fiction books feature a Florida setting. Stormy Weather takes place after Hurricane Andrew, when many flocked to the destruction for a variety of dubious reasons.

Swamplandia! | Karen Russell

This debut novel by a Miami native sinks its teeth into Florida’s weird reptilian reputation. Set in the fictional theme park Swamplandia! in the real Ten Thousand Island mangrove islets in the Everglades, the story is infused with Flannery O’Connor’s Southern Gothic style and a specificity of place prevalent in works by Florida writers.

The Secret Life of Bees | Sue Monk Kidd 

After living in Charleston for many years, Kidd moved to Marco Island following the success of The Secret Life of Bees. The novel takes place in South Carolina in 1964 and was a New York Times best seller for more than two years.

One for the Money | Janet Evanovich

Neapolitan Evanovich is best known for her series starring plucky bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. Her first Plum adventure, One for the Money, was released in 1994 and recently made into a movie starring Katherine Heigl.

To Have and Have Not | Ernest Hemingway

Perhaps Key West’s most famous former resident, Hemingway arrived in the 1930s and wrote To Have and Have Not, set in depression-era Key West and Cuba, while living in his Spanish Colonial home on the island.

A Streetcar Named Desire | Tennessee Williams

Hemingway may be the best-known Key West writer, but he’s not the only one. Playwright Williams visited and lived in Key West for more than 40 years. It’s rumored that he worked on A Streetcar Named Desire, a joy to read as well as to see on stage, while staying at the La Concha Hotel.

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