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Need a beach read? Longboat Library has you covered with 6 picks

From hurricane tales to a Longboat Key murder mystery, library volunteers recommend Florida-flavored books you won't be able to put down.

Barb Torrence and Susan Walters, Longboat Library volunteers
Barb Torrence and Susan Walters, Longboat Library volunteers
Photo by Petra Rivera
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Not sure what book to take to your next beach day?

Don't fret because the volunteers at the Longboat Library are in the know about what's trending in the literary world. 

This summer, they've curated a list of books written by local and Florida authors that are must-reads. Here is your summer reading list as assigned by the Longboat Library.

Top pick

'The Women' by Kristin Hannah

Library volunteers Barb Torrence and Susan Walters said "The Women" completely changed their perspectives on the Vietnam War. 

Frankie is a 20-year-old nursing student who joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps to follow her brother who was serving in the Vietnam War. When she comes back home, she struggles to readjust to the changed and divided America that aims to forget about the war. 

Torrence said she avoided reading anything about Vietnam because her husband served in the Philippines at the time of the war. Its intense descriptions made her understand the hardship of the time, especially through the eyes of a woman.

Classic Florida reads

'Skinny Dip' by Carl Hiaasen

Walters said Carl Hiaasen’s outrageous stories will keep you laughing throughout with its many surprises and interesting characters.

This book follows a homicidal marine scientist, Chaz, who is illegally dumping fertilizer into the endangered Everglades. When he suspects that his wife Joey has uncovered his scam, he tries to kill her by pushing her overboard from a cruise liner. 

She ends up surviving the fall and is saved by a former cop named Mick. Joey decides to get back at her husband by "haunting" him through his crimes with the help of her new friend Mick.

'Naked Came The Florida Man' by Tim Dorsey

Tim Dorsey puts a twist on the classic Florida stereotypes of hurricanes and ... interesting people.

Serge A. Storms uses his unusual power of seeing the deceased to discover stories of those who were killed in Florida hurricanes. 

While bouncing from cemetery to cemetery, his adventures bring him to a haunted sugar field that is rumored to have a bogeyman named the "Naked Florida Man" hiding in its stalks. Storms uses his knowledge of history and love for bestowing justice to solve this unusual mystery. 

Walters said you won't be able to put this book down with Dorsey's unique characters, outlandish plot lines and ties to the Sunshine State.

Thrills for days

'Longboat Blues' by H. Terrell Griffin

Former Longboat resident H. Terrell Griffin takes you on a cozy murder mystery through all your favorite local spots. 

Logan Hamilton is the prime suspect in a murder when his girlfriend’s dead body is discovered on a Longboat condominium balcony. 

To save him from the death penalty, his friend and former trial lawyer Matt Royal comes out of retirement to represent him. 

Royal travels to Iowa, Chicago and South Florida on the case as the trial shocks Longboat locals with surprising secrets. Royal is challenged when he faces off against a female prosecutor who never loses.

Torrence said Griffin's references to local spots such as Chubby's Lounge make it a great Longboat read.

'The Spy’s Wife' by Jane Elizabeth Hughes 

Shelley always thought her mild-mannered husband David was a management consultant. 

But one morning when watching the news, she sees his face on TV with a headline claiming that he was a CIA spy. 

After confronting him, Shelley is shocked to learn about David's secret life. 

Her whole life changes as her husband takes her along on secret missions around the world dodging foreign agents and international media hounds. This adventure causes her to question her formerly tranquil life when she forms a new-found attraction to her mysterious husband.

Longboat resident Jane Elizabeth Hughes wrote this book based on her real life of being married to a CIA agent. Torrence said she loves running into Hughes and hearing about her interesting life.

Important conversations

'Belonging Matters: Conversations on Adoption, Family and Kinship' by Julie Ryan McGue 

Julie Ryan McGue talks about her experience with adoption and how this affected her identity and sense of belonging. 

She hopes that the book will support the adoption community while opening a conversation with those who aren’t directly impacted by adoption. 

McGue is a local author who was the recent guest of a library book club event at J. McLaughlin. Torrence said it was an eye-opening conversation that brought awareness to the taboo of adoption in society.



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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