Best Books for the Coastal South

“Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again.”

― Louisa May Alcott

If you love to curl up on a cozy veranda with a good book and dream of the salty shores of the coastal South, you are in the right place. Welcome to a little collection of a few of the best books for your coastal-loving heart. 

While I love reading seaside stories, I confess I have not read every book that could or should be on this list! You all have so many beautiful recommendations, so I encourage you to send me your recommendations in the form at the bottom of the page! I do update this periodically. 

So notify your book club, snag some copies of a book for two, share this with a friend, and enjoy!

PS) as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Top Five Favorite Reads:

A Land Remembered

By Patrick D. Smith

[403 pages] In this best-selling Florida novel, Patrick Smith tells the story of three generations of the MacIveys. Ranked #1 Best Florida Book eight times in annual polls conducted by Florida Monthly Magazine.

Shop Amazon

The Gulf: the Making of an American Sea

by Jack E. Davis

[608 pages] Published in 2018 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, this book is a beautiful ecological and historical overview of the Gulf of Mexico. A personal favorite!

Shop Amazon

Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens

[400 pages] A nonfiction novel about a marsh girl who is one with nature, watches the birds and paints in watercolor? Sign me up! Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as “a painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature.”

Shop Amazon

Cross Creek

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

[380 pages] A snapshot into life of a 1940s hamlet in Florida, poetically captured by Majorie Kinnan Rawlings. The novel takes you through the seasons in Cross Creek, where Rawlings lived for thirteen years. A great companion for this book is the Cross Creek Cookery.

Shop Amazon

The Old Man and the Sea

[128 pages] A quick read from a brilliant storyteller, The Old Man and the Sea shares the tale of an old Cuban fisherman dealing with poverty, loss, and a bit of bad luck who encounters a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream. Beautifully written, and a poetic love story to the sea. Highly recommend reading on a boat.

Shop Amazon

Other Recommended Coastal South Books:

(Note: These are in no particular order, and cookbooks are not included here, but will be listed separately in the future!)

Fiction Books:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Water Is Wide: A Memoir by Pat Conroy

Florida by Lauren Groff

The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen

Call Your Daughter Home: A Novel by Deb Spera

Stiltsville: A Novel by Susanna Daniel

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

The Shark Club: A Novel by Ann Kidd Taylor

South by Southeast by Walter Cronkite (Author), Ray G. Ellis (Illustrator)

Killing Mister Watson by Peter Matthiessen

Reef Road by Deborah Goodrich Royce

The Marsh Queen by Virginia Hartman

Swamp Story by Dave Barry

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin

Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray

Spring Creek Chronicles by Leo Lovel


Nonfiction Books:

Saints of Old Florida: A Coastal Lifestyle Book by Emily Raffield, Melissa Farrell, Christina McDermott 

Island Whimsy: Designing a Paradise by the Sea by Celerie Kemble

The Book of Palms by H. Walter Lack

The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise by Michael Grunwald

Florida Cowboys: Keepers of the Last Frontier by Carlton Ward Jr.

Path of the Panther: New Hope for Wild Florida by Carlton Ward Jr.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Irmgard Müsch, Jes Rust, Rainer Willmann

Florida Made: The 25 Most Important Figures Who Shaped the State by George LeMieux and Laura Mize

Saltwater: Coastal Carolina by Faith Teasley

Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Les Standiford

Know of a book that should make the list?

Thank you for your love of reading, and desire to help bring others to a great book. Use the form below to share your contribution with me - I do update this page periodically!

Your Book Recommendation: