Florida is an author's dream come true. A state of much diversity (read: bizarre characters, to say the least), Florida practically hangs inspiration from the palm trees. Where to begin? Here's a short list of some of the books that "get" Florida, in her many personas. Happy reading!


  • Fiskadoro (Harper Perennial), by Dennis Johnson: National Book Award winner Johnston's post-apocalyptic perception of nuclear war in the Florida Keys.
  • The Perez Family (W. W. Norton & Co. Inc.), by Christine Bell: Cuban immigrants from the Mariel Boat Lift exchange their talents for an immigration deal in Miami. See below for the film adaptation.
  • To Have and Have Not (Scribner), by Ernest Hemingway: One of the many must-reads by Key West's most famous resident.
  • The Yearling (Collier MacMillan Publishers), by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: A classic about life in the Florida backwoods.
  • Seraph on the Suwanee (Harper Perennial), by Zora Neale Hurston: A novel about turn-of-the-20th-century Florida "white crackers."
  • Nine Florida Stories (University Press of Florida), by Marjory Stoneman Douglas: The beloved Florida naturalist's fictional take on Florida, revealing the drama of hurricanes and plane crashes, of kidnappers, escaped convicts, and smugglers.
  • Rum Punch (Harper Torch), by Elmore Leonard: The story of a stewardess, bail bondsman, and gunrunner in Palm Beach County.
  • Swim to Me (Algonquin Books), by Betsy Carter: A novel set in Weeki Wachee about a shy teenager who finds her purpose at the mermaid-happy theme park.


  • Miami, the Magic City (Centennial Press), by Arva Moore Parks: An authoritative history of the city.
  • The Everglades: River of Grass (Pineapple Press), by Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Eco-maniacs will love this personal account of the treasures of Florida's most famous natural resource.
  • Celebration USA: Living in Disney's Brave New Town (Holt Paperbacks), by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins: An eye-opening true story about living in Disney's "model town."

Movies Filmed in Florida

  • Clarence Brown's The Yearling (1946), based on the novel by M. K. Rawlings
  • John Huston's Key Largo (1948), based on the novel by Hemingway (gangsters, hurricanes, and Bogey and Bacall)
  • Harry Levin's Where the Boys Are (1960; Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale)
  • Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat (1981; crime)
  • Ron Howard's Cocoon (1985), based on a novel by David Saperstein (retirees)
  • Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990; modern fairy tale filmed in Dade City and Lakeland)
  • Mira Nair's The Perez Family (1995; Cuban culture)
  • Mike Nichols's The Birdcage (1996; South Beach comedy)
  • John Singleton's Rosewood (1997; African-American culture), based on the historic Rosewood massacre
  • Victor Nunez's Ulee's Gold (1997; Panhandle family drama)
  • Spike Jonze's Adaptation (2002), loosely based on Susan Orleans's The Orchid Thief

Music of Florida

The Miami recording industry did not begin with Gloria Estefan's Miami Sound Machine, contrary to popular belief. In fact, some major rock albums were recorded in Miami's Criteria Studios. Among them: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Hotel California by the Eagles. Longtime local music entrepreneur Henry Stone and his label, TK Records, created the local indie scene in the 1970s. TK Records produced the R&B group KC and the Sunshine Band, along with soul singers Betty Wright, George McCrae, and Jimmy "Bo" Horne, as well as a number of minor soul and disco hits, many influenced by Caribbean music. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Jacksonville saw a very active music recording scene with Southern rock bands such as Molly Hatchet, the Allman Brothers Band, 38 Special, the Outlaws, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Bellamy Brothers also recorded their style of country music in the mid- to late 1970s. They originated from Darby, Florida, just north of Tampa, in Pasco County. Tom Petty is from Gainesville, Florida, while boy band *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake were graduates of Orlando's Mickey Mouse Club. In the 2000s, Miami saw an enormous rap boom in the form of Daddy Yankee, Pitbull, Rick Ross, and more.

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