Literary destinations -- Take a book on these road trips

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).