Some reading suggestions to get you through 2020's Summer of Solitude

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Some reading suggestions to get you through 2020's Summer of Solitude

Hi, Gen X here. Without making light of the pandemic – because, wow, does it suck – we'd like to point out that we Gen X-ers are totally prepared for this. As author Lauren Hough tweeted early on in this whole mess, we're "the only generation who can keep our asses at home without being told, the motherfucking latchkey kids, the generation used to being neglected by fucking everyone. We'll be the only ones left."

We are totally here for the #QuarantineAndChill, but, honestly, that's just Wednesday for us. You've seen the memes about people who are so happy when you cancel plans on them? ... yeah. It's not so shocking, then, that we have some suggestions for reading to get you through 2020's Summer of Solitude. Tuck in, folks. Remember, we're all in this together ... separately.

Holding Smoke, by Steph Post <> This is the last book of the Judah Cannon trilogy, and it's actually a three-fer, because you're going to want to read all three. There's a Pentecostal preacher, a drug runner and a Southern family. That should be enough to take your mind off what's happening, at least for a few hours. Polis Books, 2020. –CS

Cat Tale, by Craig Pittman
If there's a story that will make you feel hope in times that can feel hopeless, it's Pittman's story about "the wild, weird battle to save the Florida panther." It made us ugly cry and happy cry ... but we're a little on edge these days. How about you? Hanover Square Press, 2020. –CS

Salt River, by Randy Wayne White
Speaking of the environment and crime, White's work remains some of our favorite Florida writing. This is his 26th (!) in the Doc Ford series, released last month, and the series never gets old. Alongside crime, White makes salient points about harmful algal blooms, red tide ... and sperm donation. Really. Penguin Random House, 2020. –CS

Roaring Reptiles, Bountiful Citrus, and Neon Pies, by Mark Lane
Tampa Bay columnist Mark Lane's newest book about Florida takes an irreverent (yet loving) look at our state's icons. Lane's easy style will allow you to forget everything happening outside your door. In case you were wondering – no, Florida doesn't have an official state virus. This book should be a handbook for any new Floridian. University Press of Florida, 2019. –CS

Drawn to the Deep, by Julie Hauserman
Hauserman takes a deep dive into the underwater life of Wes Skiles, the man who dived into the Floridan Aquifer – many, many feet below Florida's sandy surface – to map the twisty limestone tunnels. It's the perfect book for adrenaline junkies who are now stuck on the couch. University Press of Florida, 2018. –CS

Florida, by Lauren Groff
This collection of 11 short stories will slake any thirst readers have for Sunshine State strangeness. Kirkus Reviews called Florida "a literary tour de force of precariousness set in a blistering place, a state shaped like a gun." Fans of Karen Russell, Padgett Powell or Joy Williams should not miss this box of poison treats. Riverhead Books, 2018. –JBY

Made for Love, by Alissa Nutting
Nutting's first novel, Tampa, was inspired by the student-seducing middle-school teacher Debra Lafave, and it introduced readers to Nutting's singular voice: a quease-inducing mix of hard and soft, sentimental and solipsistic. Like Tampa, Made for Love is set in Florida; and like Tampa, Made for Love has a ripped-from-the-headlines plot – this time, our villain is a privacy-invading tech bro rather than a female sexual predator. Hmm, who could that (cough, Zucker)be(rg)? Ecco, 2017. –JBY

We Can't Help It if We're From Florida , various authors
A variety pack of snack-sized tales "from a sinking peninsula," with a couple of poems sprinkled in for good measure, We Can't Help It nicely captures the prickly (heat) sensation of reserving the right to savage your own hometown, while defending the place to others harder than a rabid possum. Burrow Press, 2017. –JBY

Welcome to Deadland, by Zachary Linville
UCF grad Linville set his first novel in Orlando, and it hews faithfully to the established zombie-pocalypse tropes. College-age zombie fighters hack their way through the infected city from the university, through the housing developments, even up from Miami, and they're all heading toward ... well, you'll get no spoilers from us, but only a non-Orlandoan couldn't guess the magical place they're all going to meet up. Inkshares, 2016. –JBY

Façadomy, by James Cornetet
Local architect James Cornetet wraps a bucket list of Orlando midcentury marvels in a spot-on rant against poorly planned development and it's all right there in the subtitle: "A Critique on Capitalism and Its Assault on Mid-Century Modern Architecture." Process Press, 2013. –JBY

Finding Florida, by T.D. Allman
This "True History of the Sunshine State" is an acidic and weighty tome covering five centuries of Floridian greed, racism and violence. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013. –JBY

Condominium, by John D. MacDonald
When the pandemic passes, the same ol' environmental issues remain. If you adore Carl Hiaasen, Randy Wayne White and the Florida crime novel genre, you need to go back in time and read the one that came before all others. Every other novel about the Florida environment and crime succeeds because of this one, first published in 1977. –CS

Oranges, by John McPhee
McPhee's classic of narrative nonfiction is a miniature universe. Like one of those tiny glasses of OJ served in diners, its narrow covers enclose the geological, historical and meteorological roots of Florida citrus farmers' struggle to exist. No big deal: just a self-contained cosmology of the Sunshine State, that's all. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975. –JBY

Alas Babylon, by Pat Frank
Hey, COVID-19 might be a pandemic, but at least it isn't nuclear war. Worth a re-read if you haven't read it in years, and if you've never read it, do it now. Did we mention it's set in Central Florida? Yep, "Fort Repose" is a thinly veiled Mount Dora. Lippincott, 1959.


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Jessica Bryce Young

Jessica Bryce Young has been working with Orlando Weekly since 2003, serving as copy editor, dining editor and arts editor before becoming editor in chief in 2016.
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