Chase Away Winter Blues with Books about Key West

By Beth Solka, Access Services

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 southernmost 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 jet-setter, 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 ArmsFor Whom the Bell TollsDeath 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, gray autumn sky when my phone rang, and it was one of my favorite library customers. “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 customer, 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

Dream of Orchids

The Last Resort

Dead Run

Key West Nonfiction

Houses of Key West

Key West

Slave Ship

Novel Destinations

...and here's a look at the Hemingway cats: