by Christina Cush | April 12, 2017

Lisa Unger’s Favorite Florida Books

Bedside reads for the whole family from a famed thriller writer


Tampa Bay resident and New York Times and international best-selling author Lisa Unger has penned an impressive 16 novels, including her upcoming thriller, The Red Hunter (Touchstone, 2017). Like her fellow Floridians, with sunglasses propped on top of her head, Unger loves cheering on her favorite baseball team—the Tampa Bay Rays—and watching native birds. When not baking cupcakes with her tween daughter, reading in a quiet nook at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, and researching her next novel out on the road, the prolific writer whips out essays for top-tier magazines and speaks on writers’ panels. But in stark contrast to her Sunshine State of mind, Unger constantly spins dark plots, mulling over the next twist for each psychological suspense novel. The thriller writer’s penchant for brighter themes, Florida authors and family reads, however, springs forth in these book picks.

Photography by Jessie Preza
Photography by Jessie Preza
  1. Tropic of Night
    by Michael Gruber
    “Everyone thinks that anthropologist Jane Doe is dead. Or so she hopes, as she’s on the run from her evil poet-turned-shaman husband. This dark, intelligent thriller set in Miami blends the real and the supernatural into a wholly original and unsettling read.” (Harper-Collins, 2009)
  2. Because of Winn-Dixie
    by Kate DiCamillo
    “After adopting a scruffy dog named Winn-Dixie, lonely preacher’s daughter Opal makes friends in her new town of Naomi, Florida. A sweet, heart-warming read for the whole family.” (Candlewick Press, 2000)
  3. Seasons of Real Florida
    by Jeff Klinkenberg
    “Think Florida doesn’t have seasons? Think again. No one writes about the quirks, mysteries, beauty and character of the Sunshine State with as much love and color as the Klink.” (University Press of Florida, 2009)
  4. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
    by Stephen King
    “When it comes to what scares us, King, who hails part-time from Sarasota, is the master. This tell-all about the writing life tackles plenty of demons, too, but is chock full of wisdom and insight, a must-read for any writer.” (Scribner, 2000)
  5. Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country
    by Craig Pittman
    “Florida is so often portrayed as the butt of a joke. While Pittman’s smart book is good for some belly laughs, it also shows what a powerful influence the state has on the rest of the nation.” (St. Martin’s Press, 2016)

PLUME.V5.Lisa Unger.©Jeff UngerHey Unger, which iconic Florida author impacted your craft the most?

“Key West’s Judy Blume has inspired generations of girls, her pages whispering truths that no one else dared utter. I am one of those girls—or was—but this book, Tiger Eyes (Bradbury, 1981), about a young woman who comes of age after her father’s murder is one that inspired me as a writer.”