Read it like a native: 20 books about Florida

In 1568, Brother Francisco Villareal, a Jesuit missionary to the Tequesta settlement on the Miami River, penned what is perhaps the first postcard from South Florida: “I and the others have constantly remained healthy, glory be to God, which helps us endure with little difficulty some of the burdens of the land that otherwise would seem insufferable. I am referring to the three or more months of mosquitoes … in which I passed some nights and days without being able to sleep for an hour. . . .”

No surprise, then, that more than four centuries later, our landscape remains steeped in buzz, bite and restlessness. We live in a state of flux, and no one who writes in — or about — South Florida is immune to a pervading edginess and sense of longing. Our words and sentences cannot help but be tinged by the frantic skitter of lizards in the leaf clutter around a mango tree, the harsh slap of sunshine against a Deco wall, the gritty swirl of oolite dust kicked up by a car bumping down some scratch of pinelands road.

Not all the Florida books we feature in this list focus on Miami, but each in some way reflects who we are, how we got here and why we choose to stay. The list is arbitrary. No attempt was made to be definitive.

-Excerpt from a July 28, 1996, Miami Herald article by Margaria Fichtner.



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