Books,  Florida

Great Books to Read While Visiting Key West and the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys and Key West have been the home of many great authors, and are a great place to relax – so what better to do than find some fun beach reads for the Florida Keys? Key West is an incredible literary town, with a rich tradition of some of the world’s most revered writers calling it home. Combine that with the island lifestyle “where the weird go pro,” Key West and the Florida Keys are the perfect place to grab a great book and enjoy!

Hemingway Books to Read in Key West


A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway


One of the most immortal classics by Hemingway himself, it’s said that A Farewell to Arms was written while he lived in Key West. This is one to appreciate the man himself, but do’t expect an easy read. This book will challenge you and give you an appreciation for Hemingway’s unique style.

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood


Ernest Hemingway’s life manages to invite all sorts of speculation. With a man who lived as he did, it’s no wonder. Mrs. Hemingway dives into the stories of each of Hemingway’s four wives, illuminating how he lived – and how they lived in relation to him. If you enjoyed The Paris Wife, then you’ll likely love learning more about Hemingway’s other three wives in Mrs. Hemingway.

Hemingway’s Girl by Erica Robuck


This work of fiction launches you into the world of Hemingway and Key West. The world is shown through a woman hired to be a servant in the household. If you want the kind of book where Key West is as much a character as any of the people, then Hemingway’s Girl is a great choice! It’s an easier read, so it’s a perfect beach/pool read to get the atmosphere without having to work too hard.

Books By Authors Who Have Lived in Key West

Key West has attracted hundreds of writers, each attracted to its particular magic. These books are all written by people who lived in Key West for months or years.


Jimmy Buffet: The Key West Years by Tom Corcoran


Tom Corcoran met Jimmy Buffet while they both lived in Key West, and he even co-wrote a few songs with him. This book is heavy on pictures and stories from the times in Key West. If you’re into the Margaritaville life, and you love Buffet, this book is perfect. You’ll find many places mentioned that you can still visit today.

The Mango Opera by Tom Corcoran


More than Jimmy Buffet, Tom Corcoran is known for his Alex Rutledge mystery series. This is the first in the series, and it’s set in Key West. If you love mysteries and thrillers, and want to get a great feel for the island, The Mango Opera is a perfect read. As an added bonus, if you’re a quick reader there are a number of books in the series!

Seas Outside the Reef by Rosalind Brackenbury


This novel features a love triangle, Cuban dissidents, crazy Florida weather and more. What else could you ask for? (A whore peddling pornographic poems? Glad you asked – that’s there too!) Rosalind Brackenbury has lived in Key West, and features the island in this story as well. If you’re getting ready for a trip to Key West, then this sets the stage well – or is a perfect read if you’re already there!

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein


Not exactly what comes to mind when you think “beach read,” but did you know Shel Silverstein lived in Key West at times? If you’re looking for a fun way to re-connect with your childhood, don’t hesitate to grab this one.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume


Judy Blume is another beloved children’s author who has made Key West home. If you’re bringing kids, or you just want to enjoy how wonderful her books are, then consider picking one up on your way to Key West!

The Poetry of Robert Frost


Yes, he went to the woods to live more deliberately – but did you know Robert Frost also spent a few winters in Key West? If you’re looking to reconnect with his incredible poetry, then the Florida Keys are a perfect place to dive into it.

Key West Beach Reads


The Road to Key West by Michael Reisig


The Road to Key West is the perfect book to read with a pina colada in your hand and Buffet on. This fun book dives into Key West and the Caribbean of the 1970s, so it’s an incredibly fun beach read!

Florida Straits by Laurence Shames


Florida Straits is the very definition of a fun beach read. It’s a crime thriller, with hilarious people and a fast-paced plot. You’ll meet Miami crime lords alongside other characters, all interacting with Key West. Luckily, it’s the first in a series of 8, so you’ve got lots of fun reading ahead of you.

Key West by Lynn Coleman


If you want more historical fiction than murder mystery, Key West is a good choice. You can follow the lives of four women as the figure out how to create lives living in Key West. This walks back through their difficulties and challenges, which make it a perfect book if you love deep characters.

12 books to read while visiting Key West

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