10 Florida Books We’re Reading This Summer
From beach reads to rainy day thrillers, we have a book for every occasion this summer
Nothing complements a lazy late summer day better than finding just the right book to go with it. Whether you’re searching for a witty page-turner to while away an afternoon on the beach or a gripping thriller to distract you during summer’s predictable afternoon thunderstorm, we found 10 of the best new books brimming with tales from all over the state and told as only these Florida authors would know how. Of course, we’ve included some Sunshine State staples like frequent Flamingo contributor Craig Pittman and everyone’s favorite NSA agent turned marine biologist Doc Ford, but we’ll also introduce you to some new standouts that are sure to become beach bag regulars.
Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, Caitlin Ostroff, Jay Weaver
Floridians probably did not expect to become a notorious nest of political intrigue until former President Donald Trump transformed the gilded gates of Mar-a-Lago into the “Winter White House” during his presidency. This August 2020 release by a team of critically acclaimed Miami Herald journalists breaks down the barriers to the den of deception, revealing money and influence flowing out of taxpayer’s hands and into the pockets of political power seekers entering the state through the resort’s doors.
Florida often is the butt of every joke, the nation’s eternal punchline, so like many Sunshine State residents, Tyler Gillespie was not always a proud Florida man. But in this honest letter to the home he once denied, Gillespie confronts concocted caricatures to reveal the humanity of our state. Taking readers from gator pits and nudist campgrounds to cattle ranches and halfway houses, the author peels back the state’s eccentric curtain for a thoughtful, keen look at the issues that plague our often-misunderstood peninsula in this April release. Along the way, Gillespie reflects on some of his own childhood memories and reconciles with a home that can be hard to love.
In this heart-wrenching, unmissable debut work of fiction, Gabriela Garcia delivers a novel that upends the notion of the “immigrant experience” as a monolith. Her multigenerational story takes readers from Cuba to Miami, from century to century, and from woman to woman in order to unravel a family’s history. Centering on Jeanette, a Miami native battling addiction, Garcia weaves a complex web of stories about Cuban women wrestling with political and personal demons. Since its release in March, Of Women and Salt has already appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers list and was chosen for the Good Morning America Book Club.
Celebrated journalist and author—not to mention, Flamingo friend—Craig Pittman has spent more than 30 years telling the Sunshine State’s most screwball stories, and now a collection of his greatest work from his years at The Tampa Bay Times and other outlets is getting a home in this upcoming romp of an anthology, set to launch in September. Let Pittman temper the sting of a fading summer with a quirky, considered meditation of Florida’s absurdities, from its wildlife to its people. Inside the pages, readers dive into Florida’s professional mermaid industry, learn the epic saga of a nudist colony against the U.S. Postal Service and meet the most tattooed woman in the world (are you at all surprised that she calls Florida home?). While you wait for his collection, be sure to read Pittman’s latest story for Flamingo, an important breakdown of the racist past of one of Pensacola’s most memorable local figures.
Set in the Northern suburbs and cities of the Sunshine State, this gripping debut by Dantiel Moniz explores coming of age, mortality, race and relationships with page-turning honesty. Over the course of 11 short stories, Moniz leaves no phase of life untouched. From a young girl reckoning with the differences between herself and her white best friend to a woman processing life after a miscarriage, the intensity of her narratives will stay with you long after the last page. This February release has us eager for another from this budding literary phenom.
Following her buzzworthy debut novel Mostly Dead Things in 2019, Kristen Arnett returned to the page in June with another poignant-yet-playful perspective on family dynamics. The intimate tale breaks down the societal pressure to create an idyllic queer family and the realities of falling short, as one mother grapples with an unruly son, an absent wife and resentment that threatens to upend their home.
Become the most impressive shell collector on the beach with the help of award-winning environmental journalist Cynthia Barnett’s latest literary adventure. This impeccably researched deep dive into the history of seashells marries cultural history with scientific phenomena to explain the rush we feel when we find the perfect calico clam. In this July release, Barnett explores everything from the mollusks who make these coveted conchs to the clues they leave behind about our environment. Might we suggest a sand dollar bookmark for this one, perhaps?
Randy Wayne White
We cannot in good faith leave the legendary Doc Ford off a list of Florida summer reads. In this May addition to White’s young adult spin-off series, Ford takes a trio of adventurous youngsters to the Bahamas, where they discover that lionfish are laying waste to the coral reefs—and stinging the locals. But what these precocious kids don’t know is that this invasive species crisis is about to turn into a pirate adventure.
There is perhaps no better place to enjoy this touching memoir about tending to the world’s most vulnerable than on the sandy shore of the Sunshine State. This is where much of Cerulean’s August 2020 memoir takes place, and it’s where she finds a surprisingly comforting parallel between caring for Apalachicola’s shorebirds and looking after her father as he deteriorates from dementia. For those moments when summer fun fades into quiet contemplation, readers can come alongside Cerulean as she learns that life often mimics nature.
No genre has found a more fruitful home in Florida than the crime novel. Curl up this July with the 11th installment in the bestselling Quinn Colson series by Ace Atkins when the state’s signature afternoon shower rolls in. Between three teenagers on the run to avoid a murder charge and unexpected discord between Colson and former deputy Lillie Virgil over who to believe, Atkins makes a compelling case for your next rainy read.
All books are independently selected by the editorial team, but Flamingo does receive a portion of the proceeds from books purchased through these links. Thanks for supporting Flamingo!