Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
September 4, 2010
It seems that my summer reading project will be stretching into the fall.
I'm working my way through classics that I haven't covered on a BBC book list that I discovered on Facebook. The BBC supposes that most people have only read six of the 100 books on its list. I scored better than that, but there's always room for improvement, right?
This fall, my plan is to expand that notion into a Florida excursion based on some literary destinations. Maybe if I get really crazy, I'll coordinate my reading with the stops.
Here's the Top 5 list I'm using as a starting point, but suggestions are welcome.
• Hemingway's Key West: A tour of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (907 Whitehead St.; 305-294-1136) is the obvious starting point for a literary themed visit to Key West. Follow the visit with a beer at iconic Sloppy Joe's (201 Duval St.; 305-294-5717), where the heavy influx of tourists can't diminish the place's almost 80 years of history and its Hemingway connection.
•Cross Creek: The quiet spirit of "The Yearling," the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, remains intact at Cross Creek, a state historic site between Ocala and Gainesville on South County Road 325. Visitors can take guided tours of the Cracker-style house (floridastateparks.org/marjoriekinnanrawlings).
•Micanopy: Not far from Cross Creek is the tiny town of Micanopy, off U.S. 441 near Gainesville. It's home to O Brisky Books, a trove of 40,000 rare and collectible volumes with an emphasis on history, philosophy and religion. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, but it's a good idea to call first at 352-466-3910.
•Haslam's Book Store: When it comes to old-school browsing, it's hard to beat Haslam's (2025 Central Ave.; 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday). A St. Petersburg institution for more than 75 years, this 30,000-square-foot store bills itself as a legitimate tourist stop: "Florida's Greatest Rainy Day Attraction!" But don't wait for a rainy day.
•Kerouac House: Jack Kerouac wrote "The Dharma Bums" and received the first glowing reviews of "On The Road" in the tiny College Park bungalow at 1418 Clouser Ave. Now it's home to a writer in residence program (kerouacproject.org).
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