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Best Books to Read Before You Visit Marco Island or Southwest Florida

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Whether settling into a Southwest Florida beach chair or applying bug spray for an Everglades hike, be sure to have one of these books in tow! Marco Island is our favorite base camp when visiting Florida's Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades. The books found here will help you discover the people and places beyond Marco's sandy shores by taking you to the surrounding mangrove islands and cypress forests where panthers and gators roam and the Calusa's lost treasures and shell mounds hide. From shells to wildlife conservation and the area's rich history, there is so much to soak in and learn about this unique region. Plus, it's Florida, so the real-life characters are just as outlandish as the fictitious ones. #floridaman Enjoy!

Books Set in Southwest Florida


By Karen Russell

After Swamplandia!'s headliner and the matriarch of the Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty passes away, thirteen-year-old Ava and her siblings have a front-row seat to the quick decline of their family's amusement park and their childhoods. Set in the Ten Thousand Islands, you'll get a glimpse at not only a bygone era, but the grit required to survive in a place that's just as dangerous as it is beautiful. This coming-of-age story is witty and a bit darker than your typical beach read, but somehow charming and thought-provoking. Beware though, some are not fans of the ending.

Ten Thousand Islands

By Randy Wayne White

When a teenage girl's grave is mysteriously dug up on Marco Island, her mother seeks help from former NSA agent, Doc Ford. Doc has no qualms about knocking heads to get answers as he boats his way through Marco, the Ten Thousand Islands, and Key Largo investigating leads and ancient artifacts found by the girl prior to her death. This is book #7 of 26 (and counting) in the Doc Ford series, but the previous 6 are not required reading to enjoy it. After you turn the last page, be sure to have a drink at Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille located in Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and St. Pete!

Books About the Area & Wildlife

The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans

By Cynthia Barnett

Environmental author Cynthia Barnett takes you around the globe from southwest Florida to the Maldives, Amsterdam, Santiago de Compostela, Ghana, and beyond to share the rich history of shells, the creatures that make them, and their surprising impact on human history. Chapter 4 introduces the archeological finds on Marco Island and the surrounding area where Lightning Whelks and other mollusks played a significant role in the day-to-day life of the region's Calusa tribe. Chapter 9 will leave you longing for Sanibel Island and its elusive Junonias. Recommended for history buffs, shell collectors, and anyone with an interest in marine life.

Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther

By Craig Pittman

Yes, that crossing sign you passed on I-75 featured a panther, a Florida panther to be precise, or maybe it's a Flo-Texas panther now. Complete with oddball characters, including a West Texas hunter-turned panther wrangler and a wealthy "philanthropist" with enough connections to build a university in a swamp, this true story may well have been written by Florida fiction writer, Carl Hiaasen. However, the best characters are the furry ones and the biologists whose controversial efforts helped save them. This witty and weird true tale leaves you with a better understanding of what it takes to bring an endangered species back from the brink.

Florida's Living Beaches: A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber

By Blair and Dawn Witherington

Our favorite beach guide ever! The full-color photos will help you quickly identify shells, birds, marine life, plants, natural features in the landscape, and various flotsam and jetson. The details teach you everything from how red tides are formed to why that ball of aluminum foil washed ashore and bring Florida's beaches to life in a whole new way. A must-read you'll want to add to your home library.

Don't miss Sunshine Booksellers for more recommendations and regional reads! Our home base when on Marco is the Charter Club located directly across the street from Sunshine Booksellers' South Store. It's always worth a stop to pick up the latest bestsellers and discover local authors.

More Recommendations to Read or Watch

What are your favorite Southwest Florida or Marco Island books?

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