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Looking to find the best books set in Florida? Are you ready to learn more about the Sunshine State? You’re in the right place!
Florida is one of the 50 states that make up the United States of America. The State of Florida is also known as the “Sunshine State” because most of the year you can enjoy a warm and tropical climate. While Miami is the state’s most urbanized area, its capital is Tallahassee.
For its residents and visitors, this climate is an advantage due to the large number of outdoor events, amusement parks, and beach activities that the area offers.
In Florida, much of its population is of Latino origin, making Spanish the second language in the state. Some say that Miami is a “little piece of Latin America in North America.”
In Florida you can do everything: visit Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, walk its hundreds of kilometers of beach that have been the setting for hundreds of movies and television series, visit the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, explore the Everglades National Park, or be surprised with the Salvador Dalí Museum.
If you want to imagine yourself resting on its beaches, or you are planning your next trip to this beautiful destination, these novels, nonfiction works, and children’s books set in Florida will make you feel like you’re already there.
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Novels and Fiction Set in Florida
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
It is currently considered one of the most influential novels for both African-American literature and women’s literature, but the novel was initially poorly received.
Set in Central and South Florida in the early 20th century, the story follows Janie Crawford, an African-American woman in her forties, who tells the story of her life and her journeys to a friend through memories.
The stages of her life are divided according to her three marriages: one arranged and violent, the second unsuccessful and sad, and the last based on love but tragic.
This novel deals with themes like racial and ethnic pride, stereotypes and marginalization, and the realistic portrayals of black life, among other topics.
Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
Back to Blood is set in Miami, and primarily revolves around a first-generation Cuban-American cop named Nestor Camancho, who inadvertently gets embroiled in Miami’s volatile racial and ethnic politics.
Early in the novel, the acrobatic arrest of an endangered Cuban asylum-seeker makes him a front-page hero for white Miami and a traitor in his own Cuban community.
This novel deals with themes like racial tension, pornography, politics, artistic fraud, friendship and courtship, and the dogged belief that the individual can escape “the fates”.
This crime novel is intriguing and very interesting since it is able to show the reader the life of Miami, a global city characterized by a mixture of cultures.
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The story centers on the Bigtrees, a family of alligator tamers residing in a theme park in the swampy region of the Ten Thousand Islands, southwest Florida.
The park is going through one of the worst financial and emotional crises of its existence: its big star, alligator tamer Hilola Bigtree, has recently died of terminal cancer. As if this were not enough, a new competitor called The World of Darkness has just opened a few kilometers from Swamplandia! capturing the attention of the new generations.
The family begins to fall apart and only Ava, the youngest daughter, a twelve-year-old, is left in charge of seventy alligators in the middle of the desolate landscape of their pain, but with a moving energy to face any danger.
Terror in Swamplandia! is presented in a dichotomous way, through a hybrid relationship between supernatural and real elements that the Bigtree brothers experience. It is a story that focuses on losses, on absences that weigh and leave scars.
Camino Island by John Grisham
A different story from the one John Grisham has accustomed us to.
In this book, some thieves have stolen the original manuscripts written by F. Scott Fitzgerald that Princeton University had insured for 25 million dollars.
However, the insurance company will not sit idly by and contacts Mercer Mann, a writer who is suffering from writer’s block, so that with the excuse of continuing with her book, she joins the group of writer friends on Camino Island to try to find any clues.
The manuscripts are suspected to have ended up in a popular Santa Rosa bookstore on Camino Island in Florida in the hands of Bruce Cable, who occasionally dabbles in the black market for rare books and stolen manuscripts.
Florida by Lauren Groff
The eleven stories in this book make us travel through Florida in time and space. From different centuries and decades, various characters and also different peoples. Snakes, gators, swamps, and storms form the backdrop of these exquisitely human stories.
Groff transports the reader. He envelops us with a sizzle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, anger, family, and the passage of time.
The Dream Life of Astronauts by Patrick Ryan
The stories by Patrick Ryan in The Dream Life of Astronauts take place in and around Cape Canaveral. Some of his characters work for NASA — or did before they fell back into the slipstream of ordinary life. Some simply live nearby on Merritt Island, where they can watch shuttle launches from their backyards.
A similar sense of precariousness infects nearly all of the lives of Mr. Ryan’s characters, whose stories traverse several decades from the late 1960s on.
If you like short stories, this is a collection worth reading, even if you’re not a space enthusiast.
Non-Fiction Books about Florida
Miami, Only Worse by Mario Sanchez
It’s an entertaining story depicting many of the social, bureaucratic, and commercial outrages plaguing 21st-century America. The scams, bribes, and corruption are explicitly detailed as an unexplained and highly comical neurosis is exposed.
The book is based on true stories depicting Miami and its people in a Kafkaesque and comic style.
Learning to Die in Miami by Carlos Eire
In this autobiographical novel, Carlos Eire recounts his life as a Cuban immigrant in Miami in 1962.
Learning to Die in Miami begins with the arrival, continuing the story told in Carlos Eire’s first memoir, Waiting for Snow in Havana.
In Cuba, Eire had been the privileged son of a judge; in the United States, he was penniless and an orphan. His mother, fearful of what might happen under the Castro regime, had arranged for him and his older brother to leave the country while she tried to get an exit visa.
Despite his difficult circumstances, Carlos quickly falls in love with his new country and tries to “kill” all memories and customs that he brought with him from Cuba. He would soon change his name to Charles, then Chuck.
The story is not only about his childhood, but Carlos Eire also tells us how he grew up, his adventures and misfortunes throughout his life until he got married and had children.
Oranges by John McPhee
Here John McPhee’s thoughtful prose focuses on oranges around the world, especially in Florida. From growing oranges, picking them, and turning them into orange juice, the writer contemplates this common fruit, which was, and still is, a major Florida industry.
This was published in 1975 but still makes for an interesting read today. For fans of thoughtful and quiet non-fiction.
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean
The Orchid Thief is a 1998 non-fiction book by Susan Orlean, based on her investigation of the 1994 arrest of horticulturist John Laroche and a group of Seminoles in south Florida for poaching rare orchids in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.
Set largely in the Florida Everglades, this book is for fans of narrative non-fiction.
Oh, Florida! by Craig Pittman
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! explores those contradictions and shows how they fit together to make this the most interesting state.
The book contains eighteen chapters about different times, history, politics, segregation, hurricanes, weather, land plus so much more.
Children’s Books Set in Florida
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
It seems incredible that a teacher of black humor writes a mystery suspense novel for children.
The setting takes place in Florida, where new arrival Roy makes two oddball friends and an enemy and joins an effort to stop the construction of a pancake house that would destroy a colony of burrowing owls who live on the site.
This book deals with topics such as ecology and animal rights and teaches how to fight for what we think is right, showing that age is not a limitation.
Sam the Sea Cow by Francine Jacobs
Follow the story of Sam the manatee as he grows up and lives his adventures.
This reading book teaches young children about Florida’s manatees with a charming story, beautiful illustrations, and great facts about this beloved animal.
S is for Sunshine: A Florida Alphabet by Carol Crane
Learn about what makes Florida unique through each letter of the alphabet, starting with A is for Alligator.
The Sunshine State gets its own alphabet book! Where “B is for Beaches, P is for Pirates, and V is for Vacationers,” comes to life with playful illustrations and poems.
Do you know which city is the state capitol? Which fragrant blossom is the state flower? Here you will find the answer!
Everglades by Jean Craighead George
This book brings nature to life with vivid illustrations as you explore the Everglades.
Readers watch a school field trip during which a narrator amuses the children by telling them an exciting story about how the Everglades came to be.
This is the Way to the Moon by Miroslav Sasek
This is the Way to the Moon is a rather long picture book that goes over the history of Cape Kennedy, which would soon be known as Cape Canaveral.
An updated version of this children’s classic that was originally published in 1963. The book reviews the history of this site, the surrounding tourist location, and all the rockets and missiles that have been launched, accompanied by beautiful illustrations.
Sasek takes readers to Cape Canaveral, the space capital of the world, a sci-fi location turned reality off the coast of Florida.
Young Adult Books Set in Florida
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
If you’re still a teenager, waiting to grow up – I guess this book is perfect for you.
Evie is on the cusp of womanhood. She’s naive, with a dreamy, delusional view of life and the world. She sees the world and the people in it with a child’s eyes and understanding which is portrayed so well by Blundell.
On their holiday in Florida, Evie meets Peter. He’s charismatic, worldly, and charming. She’s instantly caught up by him and clings tenaciously to her dreams and fantasies – blinding herself to the mystery, intrigue, and clues that surround her, until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya
13-year-old Arturo narrates the conflicts that arise one summer, as his immigrant grandma’s restaurant is threatened with encroachment by an entrepreneur-outsider.
For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex.
He refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.
It is a touching story about family, food, poetry, community, first crushes, and the fight against gentrification.
Best Books Set in Florida
These are some of the best books set in Florida.
Have you read any of these books set in Florida? Do you have any favorite books set in or about Florida that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Know someone else who wants to read books about Florida? Then please do pin this post.
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