By Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras & Ella Morton
Whenever I get visitors, I make sure to take them on a few of my “Fall in Love with Florida” spots - those quirky, off-beat places that make Florida Florida. Atlas Obscura does that for the whole world - and I love it! Sure to activate your wanderlust.
By Mira Ptacin
Cassadaga is one of the oldest spiritualist camps in the country. It is a quaint, southern camp filled with mediums, psychics, and rich history. Ptacin’s book, “The In-Betweens,” details the history of another spiritualist camp, Camp Etna, a 144-year-old Spiritualist camp in Maine. The book traces the beginning of Spiritualism through the modern-day. An interesting and intimate look at the movement and the influence of the female-dominated world of Spiritualist camps.
PERFECT LITTLE WORLD
By Kevin Wilson
Utopian societies have attracted followers throughout time. Koreshan State Park features a historical look at one such commune active around the turn of the century. For a more modern take on utopias, read Kevin Wilson’s “Perfect Little World.” The book revolves around a commune called The Infinite Family Project - a utopian community designed to raise superior children by doing away with the idea of biological parents. In turns weird, heartwarming, and whimsical, the book explores the concept of family bonds through “out there” characters.
KILLING MR. WATSON
By Peter Matthiessen
In the sleepy tiny outpost of Chokoloskee, Florida, sits the historic Smallwood Store. In 1910 Edgar Watson was shot dead by his neighbors outside the store. This unique piece of history is fictionalized in Peter Matthiessen’s masterpiece, “Killing Mr. Watson.” The book is rich with details of the wilderness of South Florida at the turn of the century.
SUBLIME SPACES AND VISIONARY WORLDS
By Leslie Umberger
In 1972, self-taught artist Howard Solomon began to build his own castle in rural Ona. It was his family home and art studio and gallery for years and now serves as a museum and tourist attraction. “Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists” explores some more of these unique structures built by outsider artists who brought to life their artistic visions by transforming their personal spaces into 3D environments. Well researched and utterly fascinating.
THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS
By Alice Hoffman
Visiting Weeki Wachee Springs as a young girl gave me a lifelong love of mermaids. Alice Hoffmans’ “the Museum of Extraordinary Things” follows the story of a girl raised as a mermaid by her father, an impresario behind a Coney Island freak show. Hoffman weaves history and magic and a cast of unforgettable characters into a haunting love story.
By Michael Kerrigan
The Cape Romano Domes off the coast of Marco Island fascinate me as they sink further and further into decay - accessible only by boat, the once beautiful dream home has fallen into ruin. The idea of abandoned homes activates in me a complex emotion. The book “Abandoned Palaces” explores that by examining deserted buildings from around that world that have fallen into ruin for one reason or another. It is hauntingly beautiful while delving into the concepts of time and history.