Reading inspires travel. I was reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini in 2005 and I was intrigued to learn more about the modern Afghan culture. At the same time, I received information about a trip to Afghanistan, where much of the novel takes place. Less than a year later, I spent 10 days in Kabul with a humanitarian organization. Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert has ignited travel to Italy, India and Bali, the three countries she visited following her divorce.
As there are books to move readers to travel the globe, there are plenty of books to inspire readers to travel throughout Florida. As you plan your summer vacation, consider reading one or all six of these books to find your inspiration.
Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida by Jeff Klinkenberg
No, Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida, is not solely about alligators or music. B-Flat though, is the music scale alligators bellow and can get, um, randy from. According to the Internet, a tuba can have the same effect as a courting gator.
Anyway, I digress. Mr. Jeff Klinkenberg, the author who wrote for the Tampa Bay Times between 1977 and 2014, has compiled a book celebrating the one-of-a-kind people and places making Florida fabulous. Some of the people include Golf Ball Man in Fort Myers (he dives for golf balls) and Madeira Beach’s Flip-Flop Man. As for attractions you’ll want to check out after reading this, there’s Bradley’s Country Store north of Tallahassee, Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka, and Gatorama. Purchase Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida here and learn more about Mr. Klinkenberg at www.jeffklinkenberg.com.
50 Great Walks in Florida by Lucy Beebe Tobias
Selecting just 50 walks must have been a daunting task for award-winning writer Lucy Beebe Tobias but readers are guaranteed included walks in 50 Great Walks in Florida represent the Sunshine State’s best. Geographically, walks are grouped by region and vary from urban adventures through quaint downtowns to casual ambles over boardwalks to wanderings into the great outdoors on primitive hiking trails.
Each walk includes personal observations by Tobias as if she is walking alongside the reader. At the end of each chapter is a “Trip Essentials” section which includes contact information for the walk, admission fee – if any, best time to visit, whether pets are permitted, nearby meal recommendations and a map showing the walk’s location.
Tip: The author’s next book, Circle the Center: Labyrinths in Florida, will be released on Sept. 1, 2018. Included will be more than 90 of Florida’s most intriguing labyrinths. Purchase 50 Great Walks in Florida here and learn more Ms. Lucy Tobias on www.lucytobias.com.
A Brief Guide to Florida’s Monuments and Memorials by Roberta Sandler
There are 80 memorials, monuments and statues featured in this guidebook and represent a good cross-section of Florida’s geography and history. A Brief Guide to Florida’s Monuments and Memorials is organized geographically, includes driving itineraries highlighting the must-see markers, and spans Florida’s five centuries of history, from the Spanish colonization to the marvels of space travel.
Ms. Sandler researched the history behind each monument and memorial with care and thoroughness, almost as if she was researching her own family’s genealogy. Featured monuments and memorials represent well-known events to some of the most obscure and range from lighthearted to tearfully tragic. Purchase A Brief Guide to Florida’s Monuments and Memorials here. Unfortunately, Ms. Sandler passed away in 2017 but her book is still available.
The Florida Trail: Florida’s National Scenic Trail by Sandra Friend and John Keatley
The Florida Trail, a network of 1,400 miles across the state from north to south and crossing two time zones, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. To commemorate, outdoor writers Sandra Friend and John Keatley, who have authored several guidebooks about hiking within Florida, published The Florida Trail: Florida’s National Scenic Trail. The coffee-table book includes a 2016 map of the Florida Trail, photo gallery of the Florida Trail System, photographs and stories from Florida Trail thru-hikers, and images and stories from the first hikers to walk the trail end-to-end. This is a limited-edition book and only 700 softcovers and 250 hardcovers were published and can only be purchased through www.FloridaHikes.com/floridatrail.
Tip: Ms. Friend has authored or co-authored more than 20 books about the outdoors with most specifically about hiking all or specific areas of Florida. Learn more about Ms. Friend and Mr. Keatley at www.FloridaHikes.com.
Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets by Steven M. Barrett
Who doesn’t love spending time at the magical place on Earth? Walt Disney World Resort has perfected the formula in making people smile and much of that is because they have taken great care with the details of the Central Florida attraction, this includes more than a thousand hidden Mickeys incorporated into the décor and artwork over the Disney World property including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the Disney World Resort Hotels.
Yes, more than 1,000!
To help pass the time and work on your search skills, grab Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets to help you find them all. Included in the book are six scavenger hunts with cryptic clues to find the Mickeys and descriptions of each Mickey. Purchase Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets here and learn more about Hidden Mickeys at www.hiddenmickeysguide.com.
Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country by Craig Pittman
Depending on inflection, the phrase “Oh, Florida,” can either be a way of expressing pure joy about paradise in the Sunshine State or punchline reacting to something silly. We residents proudly let our Florida freak-flag fly, at least according to environmental reporter, columnist, and author Craig Pittman.
Some of what makes Florida so wonderfully weird is it’s the only state that has mermaid as a government job (Weeki Wachee Springs State Park), sells more machetes than any other state, and there are multiple instances of alligators helping law enforcement officers capture criminals. Oh, Florida! is not a specific guidebook but celebration of the people, events, places, and uncontrollable factors (Florida has more first-magnitude springs than any other state) making Florida lovably weird. This book will inspire those searching for the quirky and weird to hop on Florida’s offbeat track.
Tip: Pittman has written other books including Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida’s Most Famous Endangered Species which the Florida Humanities Council has included on its list of must-read books for all Floridians. Purchase Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country here and learn more about Mr. Craig Pittman at www.craigpittman.com.