As a tremendous beach fan I find myself growing sad as the winter approaches. One place that I have always wanted to go, but have unfortunately never been is Key West, located at the southern most point of the Keys in Florida and known for its beautiful blue waters and white beaches, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, and coconut palms.
Even though he was an international jetsetter, Ernest Hemingway fell in love with Key West and called it his home for ten years. While he was there, he wrote A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Death in the Afternoon, and To Have and Have Not. Hemingway said that it was like being in a different country while still being in the United States. As he wrote, he had his beloved 6-toed or polydactyl cats around him. His home there has been preserved as a historical attraction which still cares for the cats.
Last week I was looking out my office window at the cold, grey autumn sky when my phone rang and it was one of my library patrons. “Hi Beth, I am going to Key West soon and I would like some fiction and non-fiction books about Key West, please.”
I instantly thought with delight of Hemingway’s polydactyl kitties running around in the sun and warmth. “Take me with you!” I begged. “I could ride along in one of your suitcases.”
“No, silly. That would be way too heavy.” I shook off the “heavy” comment and started looking up books about Key West. I realized that even if I can’t take a vacation to Key West like my patron, I can take an imaginary vacation with books and be an armchair traveler.
Here are some Key West books if you would like to join me on my imaginary vacation.
Key West Fiction:
1. Dream of Orchids by Phillis A Whitney
2. Tropical Depression by Laurence Shames
3. The Last Resort: a novel by Alison Lurie
4. The Lighthouse, the Cat, and the Sea: a Tropical Tale by Leigh W. Rutledge
5. Dead Run by Erica Spindler
Key West Nonfiction
1. Houses of Key West by Alex Caemmerer
2. Key West by Sarah Goodwin-Nguyen
3. Hidden Florida Keys & Everglades: including Key Largo and Key West by Candace Leslie and Ann Boese
4. Slave Ship: the story of the Henrietta Marie by George Sullivan
5. Novel destinations : literary landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West by Shannon McKenna Schmidt & Joni Rendon; foreword by Matthew Pearl