If you're trying to break your Amazon habit this year, most of these books can be found on shelves at local indie stores Bookmark It and Park Ave CDs, and they'll be happy to special-order any you don't find.
Art Capsules: The Contemporary Art Scene in Central Florida and Beyond by Egberto Almenas (256 pages, Shanti Arts LLC) A loving look at art in relation to Florida, in which local favorites Dina Mack, Brigan Gresh, Doug Rhodehamel, Kyle, Nathan Selikoff and many more rub shoulders with Salvador Dalí, Maxfield Parrish, Leonora Carrington, Edward Gorey and other deceased greats.
The Peace of Blue: Water Journeys by Bill Belleville (240 pages, University Press of Florida) The documentarian and nature writer waxes lyrical in his assertion that water is vital not only to Florida's wildlife, but its spirit as well.
Train Shots: Stories by Vanessa Blakeslee (150 pages, Burrow Press) Orlando writer's debut collection serves forth an assortment of men and women (mostly women) on the edge; the darkness inherent in each story's arc belies a preoccupation with surfaces.
The Bones of Us by J. Bradley and Adam Scott Mazer (80 pages, YesYes Books) The Pushcart Prize-nominated poet's collection, illustrated graphic-novel style, deals with the death of love.
Good Catch: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida's Waters by Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand and Heather McPherson (288 pages, University Press of Florida) The towering trio of local food news returns with another thoroughly researched (and thoroughly entertaining) cookbook.
Moon Florida Road Trip: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Walt Disney World, Tampa, Sarasota, Naples, the Everglades & the Keys by Jason Ferguson (448 pages, Avalon Travel Publishing) Get in the car and see your state – and take this with you! No cheesy tourist stuff here, unless it's cheesy in a good way.
Songs for the Deaf: Stories by John Henry Fleming (176 pages, Burrow Press) Fleming's skill lies in conjuring up surreal situations and presenting characters for whom they are utterly quotidian. Recommended for fans of George Saunders or Donald Barthelme.
Mango by Jen Karetnick (208 pages, University Press of Florida) Inspired by the 14 trees in her backyard, a Miami dining critic delves deep into the uses and history of the Florida fruit.
The Heaven of Animals: Stories by David James Poissant (272 pages, Simon and Schuster) In absurd, sometimes fantastical, circumstances, these characters struggle to do the right thing; Poissant's quiet control of events makes the writer's role as guiding deity more apparent than usual.
The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook by Ana Quincoces and Nicole Valls (192 pages, University Press of Florida) Recipes from the celebrated Little Havana fixture that's kept Miami caffeinated and snacked up for more than four decades.
Fed Up: The High Costs of Cheap Food by Dale Finley Slongwhite (192 pages, University Press of Florida) A white-hot take on the heart-wrenching saga of the Lake Apopka farmworkers and the poisoned fields in which they worked for decades.
The Food Section: Newspaper Women and the Culinary Community by Kimberly Wilmot Voss (Rowman & Littlefield, 252 pages) This brilliantly researched and supported book exposing the truth of early 20th-century newspapers' "women's sections" could have been a diatribe. Instead, it's a charming and entertaining meet-and-greet with some of the most splendidly accomplished women you'll ever admire.
And coming next year:
The Things I Don't See by Nathan Holic (January 2015 from Main Street Rag) Author of 2013's American Fraternity Man returns with another dark-funny take on 21st-century masculinity.
Find Me by Laura van den Berg (February 2015 from Farrar, Straus, Giroux) I ripped through my review copy in a week flat; expect this unsentimental dystopian tale to be a blockbuster when it hits bookstores.
The Call by Pat Rushin (February 2015 from Burrow Press) The bleak yet playful novella upon which the film Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam's latest mad opus, is based.
Class, Order, Family by David James Poissant (no date announced yet, from Simon and Schuster) His collection of short stories (see above) got glowing notices in the New York Times Book Review and the Los Angeles Review of Books, not to mention Garden & Gun; anticipation, both local and national, is high for Poissant's debut novel.