Literary City Guide | TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA


Sometimes I think I’ve figured out some order in the universe, but then I find myself in Florida, swamped by incongruity and paradox, and I have to start all over again.
— Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief

Tour Guide: MONICA TWORK

Monica has taught English in Japan, and lived in Morocco, Tennessee, and Florida. When she isn’t traveling, or thinking about her next meal, she blogs at Chopstick Explorations(Photos by Monica Twork)

Q&A

 

Relationship to Tallahassee: Former Tallahassee resident, current Tallahassee aficionado.

Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Margaret Atwood

Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Maneet Chauhan from Nashville's Chauhan Ale and Masala House

Writing soundtrack: Ocean waves

Pen or Pencil: Pencil – the more eraser, the better

Coffee or Tea? Coffee

Paperback or Hardback? Both!

 


Good Reads


BOOKSTORES

Midtown Reader. A recent addition to Tallahassee’s literary scene, this charming small shop only opened in 2016 but has been enthusiastically making up for lost time with a lovingly curated selection of new books, literary-themed gifts, and readings. 

Goodwill Bookstore. Several Goodwill stores around the city sell used books, but my favorite location on Thomasville Road sells an unexpectedly eclectic range of books and used board games. (1943 Thomasville Road)

LIBRARIES

Leroy Collins Public Library. The public library’s main branch, in the historic downtown area, offers a good collection of books and DVDs.  The sculpture in front reflects a literary bent: when a beloved, long-standing live oak near the library had to be removed in 2016, a sculptor carved a wooden tree fort statue in its place, complete with a shelf of wooden books (titles include Goodnight Moon and The Yearling).

Eastside Branch Public Library. One of the county’s six different public library branch locations, the Eastside Branch is only one built in the style of a colonial Spanish mission. Beside the library, a short walking trail meanders around a man-made pond.

READINGS & CONFERENCES

Jerome Stern Distinguished Writers Series. Organized by Florida State University’s Creative Writing Program, the series brings nationally-recognized writers to Tallahassee for free public readings.

Black Dog Café.  Local writers regularly give literary readings at this artsy, canine-friendly café.  The Lake Ella location (229 Lake Ella Dr.) provides the most scenic views over a popular local park.

OTHER FINDS

Word of South: A Festival of Literature and Music. By common consensus, the spring, fall, and winter months are the best time to be outdoors in Tallahassee. Debuting in 2015, Word of South is a free annual festival in April that features both literary readings and musical performances at Cascades Park.

Southern Shakespeare Festival.  At this annual event in May, running since 2015, the local Southern Shakespeare Company performs free open-air performances of the Bard’s plays at Cascades Park. Each year a different play is selected for presentation—in 2017, the play was a 1920s-style rendition of As You Like It.

The House That Rhymes. Built in 1843, the Knott House Museum’s history has included stints as a Union Army headquarters (the Emancipation Proclamation was read aloud from its steps in 1865) and a private residence.  One of the former residents, Luella Knott, composed poetry about the house’s antique furniture. Some of the poems remain in the house, decorating the furniture. The home is now a museum, open during guided tours, and every May 20, the Emancipation Proclamation is read aloud at the house.  The house also organizes poetry workshops for teenagers.

Good Eats


COFFEE SHOPS

Lucky Goat Coffee. Lucky Goat sets the standard for good coffee in Tallahassee. Its coffee can be found at restaurants and grocery stores throughout the city, but for the best selection, head to one of the three Lucky Goat Tasting Rooms, where you can enjoy baked goods along with your coffee.

Power Plant. The Power Plant Cafe’s biggest draw might be its location within a renovated 1921 city power plant. Sip your coffee at a table facing scenic Cascades Park, or order a full meal at the Edison restaurant on the building’s top floor.

A PROPER MEAL