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  • Writer's pictureOdett Terrazas

5 Must-Read Books Set in Florida: Explore the Sunshine State through Literature

The Sunshine State of Florida is not only famous for its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture but has also been a muse for numerous writers, inspiring captivating stories set against pastel landscape. From the enchanting allure of the Everglades to the bustling streets of Miami, Florida's diversity has provided the setting for an array of literary masterpieces.

In this article, we invite you to embark on a literary journey through Florida through five must-read novels that capture the essence of this extraordinary state.

1. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston

Set in the rural areas of southern Florida, Zora Neale Hurston's masterpiece is a compelling tale of self-discovery, love, and resilience. Through the life of the strong-willed Janie Crawford, the novel explores themes of identity, race, and gender roles in the early 20th century.

2. "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell

The novel follows the Bigtree family, who run a gator-wrestling theme park in the midst of the swamp. Blending magical realism with family drama, Russell paints a haunting and beautiful portrait of the Everglades, making it a captivating read for those seeking a unique and immersive literary experience.

“But things can be over in horizontal time and just beginning in your body, I’m learning. Sometimes the memory of that summer feels like a spore in me, a seed falling through me.” – Karen Russel, Swamplandia!

3. "To Have and Have Not" by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway's classic novel is set in the Florida Keys during the Great Depression and offers a gripping tale of fishing, smuggling, and adventure on the high seas.

The novel's vivid depiction of the Key West lifestyle, complete with inspiring characters and the lure of the open ocean, showcases Hemingway's unparalleled talent for capturing the realism of his settings.

4. "Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen

For a delightful and humorous read, "Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen takes us to Coconut Cove, a fictional small town in Florida, where a group of kids bands together to protect endangered burrowing owls from developers.

This young adult novel is filled with quirky characters, environmental themes, and a heartwarming story that resonates with readers of all ages.

5. "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean

This non-fiction work takes readers on a real-life adventure, following the eccentric orchid enthusiast John Laroche and delving into the captivating subculture of orchid fanatics. With Orlean's engaging storytelling, the book sheds light on the allure of the mysterious orchid and its connection to the Florida landscape.

From crime-fighting thrillers to historical fiction, these novels offer captivating stories set against Florida's unique backdrop. If any of these titles pique your interest, visit our bookstore, located in the lobby of the Boca Raton Public Library, and explore our Florida Authors collection for more local reads!

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