South Florida Sunshine

Key West: Where to Find the Perfect Beach Book

I was recently asked by a friend of mine, Sujatha Hampton,author and fellow blogger, about independent bookstores

Author Sujatha Hampton

in Key West. Since the release of her book, “As It Was Written”, she has been very busy and looking for chance to get away.  A little book promotion island style was just the excuse she needed.  I passed on several links and addresses and I quickly decided that this was a topic worth expanding on.

South Beach, Key West, FL

For such a small, out-of-the-way place, Key West has a very rich literary heritageErnest Hemingway wrote nearly 70% of his published work from the home that has recently been named a literary landmark.  Tennessee Williams would come down to the beach at the southernmost point of the island to swim every morning before he started his writing day.  Even now, Key West still draws the notable and the hopeful alike.  Every year the island community hosts the Key West Literary Seminar, an event that draws readers and writers worldwide.

This year a new literary event is coming to the Key West social calendar.  SeaStory Press is hosting it’s first annual Key West Authors’ Book Fair.  Local authors will be gathering in the courtyard of the Key West Heritage House

Heritage House Museum

to exhibit, sign, and read from their works.  This event will be a fantastic opportunity to meet with authors who find inspiration in paradise on a daily basis.

Even if you aren’t a writer, but a bibliophile like me, there are plenty of places to tickle the reading fancy.

Photo by Laura Murphy

One of Key West’s up and coming authors, Michael Richie, highly recommends Key West Island Bookstore for picking up a great beach read.  Located at 513 Fleming Street, Key West Island Bookstore is stuffed with gems you would have never guessed you wanted until you started browsing.  Locally owned and operated, the shop captures all that is Key West, even some of its quirks.

The Key West Library should also be a stop for all book lovers.  Like Key West Island

photo by Laura Murphy

Bookstore, the library is located in Old Town at 700 Fleming Street.  Along with standard library fare, the Key West Branch of the Monroe County Library system has an extensive collection of books on Florida history.  They also host a regular lecture series, weekly programs for children, and the One Island One Book program.  Be sure to check out their tropical palm garden while you are there.

Voltaire Books at 330 Simonton Street is an independent bookstore that has a

photo by Laura Murphy

more Barnes & Noble feel.  They specialize in Hemingway, Williams, various Key West authors, and IndieBound bestsellers.  For visitors seeking the comfort of the familiar, there is a Borders Express located at 2212 N Roosevelt Blvd.

So be sure to save a little room in your bags for a few new books and take home  a bit of Key West.


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  1. Wow, you’ve done a lot of work. The site is looking great! Thanks for the mention of the Authors’ Book Fair. It should be a lot of fun. Speaking of Tenn Williams, I first met him in Chicago at Riccardo’s restaurant, which was dowstairs from the Wrigley Bldg. He was having a whiskey soour (or three) at the time with his bro Dakin. Dakin and I became good buds over the ensuing years and I wrote the afterword for his book “My Brother’s Keeper.” Dakin was a good friend but in many ways he was nuttier than Tenn! Someday I might tell those stories. LOL.

    | Reply Posted 9 years ago
    • * Sunshine Michelle says:

      I’m pretty sure I can’t top that! And I can’t WAIT to hear some of those stories.

      | Reply Posted 9 years ago
      • What? You mean you weren’t one of the 10 people (including his wife Joyce and myself) in the audience at the Waterfront Theater when Dakin performed his one-man show as Blanche from “Streetcar” IN DRAG?

        Posted 9 years ago

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