2019 Florida Book Awards winners announced

With its 14th annual competition now complete, the Florida Book Awards has announced winners for books published in 2019. More than 175 eligible publications were submitted across the 11 categories of competition.

The Florida Book Awards, coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries, is the nation’s most comprehensive state book awards program. It was established in 2006 to celebrate the best Florida literature. Authors must be full-time Florida residents, except in the Florida nonfiction and visual arts categories, where the subject matter must focus on Florida.

The Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Children’s Literature, now in its fourth year, was awarded to Jacksonville resident Sophia Gholzfor “The Boy Who Grew a Forest,” published by Sleeping Bear Press. This $1,000 cash award is in memory of Gwen P. Reichert and serves as a lasting tribute to her accomplishments as a rare book collector, nurturer of authors and educator of children.

Also awarded was the Phillip and Dana Zimmerman Gold Medal for Florida Nonfiction to Victor Andres Triay for “The Mariel Boatlift: A Cuban-American Journey,” published by University Press of Florida. This category winner will receive a $500 cash award.

Florida Book Awards 2019 Winners by Category


GOLD: Sophia Gholz, Jacksonville, “The Boy Who Grew a Forest” (Sleeping Bear Press)
SILVER: Rob Sanders, Brandon, “STONEWALL: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution.” (Random House Books for Young Readers)
BRONZE: Marsha Diane Arnold, Alva, “Badger’s Perfect Garden” (Sleeping Bear Press)


GOLD: Ryan Calejo, Miami, “Charlie Hernandez and the Castle of Bones” (Simon & Schuster)
SILVER: Eileen Meyer, Amelia Island,“The Superlative A. Lincoln” (Charlesbridge Publishing)
BRONZE: Marta Magellan, Miami, “Amazing, Misunderstood” (Eifrig Publishing)


GOLD: Victor Andres Triay, “The Mariel Boatlift: A Cuban-American Journey” (University Press of Florida)
SILVER: David J. Nelson, Gainesville, “How the New Deal Built Florida Tourism: The Civilian Conservation Corps and State Parks” (University Press of Florida)
BRONZE: John M. Dunn, Ocala, “Drying Up: The Fresh Water Crisis in Florida” (University Press of Florida)


GOLD: Paul Wilborn, St. Petersburg,“Cigar City” (St. Petersburg Press)


GOLD: Jaquira Díaz, Miami Beach, “Ordinary Girls”(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
SILVER:Larry Loftis, Altamonte Springs, “Code Name: Lise” (Gallery Books)
BRONZE: Craig N. Huegel, Holiday, “The Nature of Plants : An Introduction to How Plants Work” (University Press of Florida)


GOLD: Maureen Seaton, Coral Gables, “Sweet World” (CavanKerry Press)
SILVER: Campbell McGrath, Miami Beach, “Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems” (Ecco/Harper Collins)
BRONZE: Tanya Grae, Tallahassee, “Undoll” (YesYes Books)


GOLD: Robert N. Macomber, Saint James City, “Honoring The Enemy: A Captain Peter Wake Novel” (USNI Naval Institute Press)
SILVER: Ward Larsen, Sarasota, “Assassin’s Revenge” (TOR/Forge)
BRONZE: Micah Dean Hicks, Oviedo, “Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


GOLD: Daína Chaviano, Miami, “Los Hijos de la Diosa Huracán” (Grijalbo)
SILVER: Lizette Espinosa, Coral Gables, “Humo” (Bookeh)


GOLD: Trish Doller, Fort Myers, “Start Here” (Simon & Schuster)


GOLD: Joy Sheffield Harris, Tampa, “The Florida Cracker Cookbook” (The History Press)

Submissions for the 2019 awards were read by juries of two to three members, who were nominated by co-sponsoring organizations from across the state. Jurors are authorized to select up to three medalists (one gold winner, one silver runner-up and one bronze medalist) in each of the 11 categories; jurors are also authorized to make no selections in a given year.

The Florida State University Libraries coordinate the Florida Book Awards with assistance from co-sponsors, including the State Library and Archives of Florida and the Florida Humanities.

To learn more about the Florida Book Awards, visit floridabookawards.lib.fsu.edu.