2020 Florida Book Awards winners announced

With its 14th annual competition now complete, the Florida Book Awards has announced winners for books published in 2020. More than 100 eligible publications were submitted across the 11 categories of competition.

Coordinated by Florida State University Libraries, the Florida Book Awards 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.

Setting the standard for future cash prizes, the “Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Children’s Literature,” now in its seventh year, was awarded to Miami resident Silvia Lopez for “Queen of Tejano Music: Selena” (Little Bee Books). This $1,000 cash award is in memory of Gwen P. Reichert and serves as a lasting tribute to honor her accomplishments as a rare book collector, nurturer of authors and their audience, and her commitment to children’s education.

Due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, authors from across the state will be honored this year in a virtual awards ceremony.

Florida Book Awards 2020 Winners by Category

Young Children’s Literature

Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal: “Queen of Tejano Music: Selena” (Little Bee Books) by Silvia Lopez (Miami)

Silver: “Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela!” (Albert Whitman & Company) by Alexandra Alessandri (Miami)

Older Children’s Literature

Jean E. Lowrie Gold Medal: “Beastly Bionics: Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature” (National Geographic Kids) by Jennifer Swanson (Jacksonville)

Silver: “The Mathematical Investigations of Dr. O and Arya” (Tumblehome, Inc) by Arya Okten and Giray Okten (Tallahassee)

Bronze: “DRAGONFLIES: Water Angels and Brilliant Bioindicators” (Eifrig Publishing) by Marta Magellan (Miami)


Gold: “My Life in Gluttony: A Culinary Adventure” (Studio Spear) by Jeffrey Spear (Jacksonville Beach)

Florida Nonfiction

Phillip and Dana Zimmerman Gold Medal: “The Governors of Florida” (University Press of Florida) edited by R. Boyd Murphree and Robert A. Taylor (Quincy)

Silver: “Florida’s Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts, and Health Spas” (University Press of Florida) by Rick Kilby (Orlando)

Bronze: “Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock” (University Press of Florida) by Michael Ray FitzGerald (Jacksonville)

General Nonfiction

Gold: “PHARMA: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America” (Simon & Schuster / Avid Reader Press) by Gerald Posner (Miami Beach)

Silver: “Black Panther in Exile: The Pete O’Neal Story” (University Press of Florida) by Paul J. Magnarella (Gainesville)

Bronze: “Still Invisible?: Examining America’s Black Male Crisis” (Inspira Communications) by Elvin J. Dowling (Miramar)


Gold: “Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara” (University of Iowa Press) by William Fargason (Tallahassee)

Silver: “Earnest, Earnest?” (University of Pittsburgh Press) by Eleanor Boudreau (Tallahassee)

Bronze: “Sacrificial Metal” (Conduit Books & Ephemera) by Esther Lee (Jacksonville)

Popular Fiction

Gold: “Assassin’s Strike” (TOR/Forge) by Ward Larsen (Sarasota)

Silver: “Shadow Ridge” (Crooked Lane Books) by M.E. Browning (Stuart)

Bronze: “The Key Lime Crime” (Crooked Lane Books) by Lucy Burdette (Key West)

Spanish Language

Gold: “Parece una república” (katakana editores) by Francisco Larios (Miami)

Silver: “P” (Ediciones Furtivas) by María Cristina Fernández (Miami)

Bronze: “Tres semillas de granada. Ensayos desde el inframundo” (Vaso Roto) by Rose Mary Salum (Miami)

Visual Arts

Richard E. Rice Gold Medal: “Captivated” (Sandpiper Press) by Steve Saari (Sanibel)

Young Adult

Gold: “It’s My Life” (Sourcebooks Fire, an imprint of Sourcebooks) by Stacie Ramey (Wellington)

Silver: “Dog Girl” (Swoon Romance) by Gabi Justice (Safety Harbor)

Bronze: “Camper Girl” (Regal House Publishing/Fitzroy Books) by Glenn Erick Miller (Naples)

Submissions for the 2020 awards were read by juries of two to three members, each nominated from across the state by co-sponsoring organizations. Jurors are authorized to select up to three medalists (including 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.

Co-sponsors of the competition include humanities organizations from across the state, such as the State Library and Archives of Florida and the Florida Humanities.

Learn more about the Florida Book Awards at floridabookawards.org.