Mitchell Kaplan, a lifelong Miami-Dade County resident, founded Books & Books in 1982. Kaplan's personality, love of writers, and belief in the written word have inflamed and driven the Miami Book Fair International, a festival that is to publishing as Art Basel is to art. Books & Books, with outlets in Coral Gables and in Miami Beach, offers, well, books and books, but also periodicals for the shorter-attention-spanned. Writers -- up-and-coming and established, poets and novelists, left- and right-wingers -- stop by the store to give readings, and Miami's book lovers, nurtured by Kaplan, come out to meet them. Kaplan, a gentle, kind, and thoughtfully spoken man, would be surprised that so many people are grateful to him. But we are, and we should be.
Best local landmark
The Roney Plaza Hotel
I'm from Miami Beach originally. I grew up down here, so my best local landmark is one that doesn't exist anymore: the Roney Plaza Hotel. It lives now only in postcards. It was built around the same time as the Freedom Tower. It's the hallmark of my growing up. This was a magnificent hotel. It had a saltwater pool and freshwater pool, a casino, and a boardwalk. Imagine the Biltmore right there on the beach, and that's it. Unfortunately it was torn down in the Seventies. It would have been the crown jewel of Miami Beach. The fact that it doesn't stand anymore is an important point from a preservationist point of view.
Best sanctuary from the fast track
When things get a little hectic it's great to be out on Biscayne Bay on a sailboat.
The month that I always point toward as being the pinnacle of the year is November, because that's when the Miami Book Fair International takes place.
Best not-so-cheap thrill
Stone crabs, preferably the jumbos at Joe's.
Best cheap thrill
It's not a classic cheap thrill, but I'm thinking of what is now called the Gardens of Pinecrest. It's the old Parrot Jungle. This is a space that is lush and beautiful and it still hasn't been completely discovered.
Best reason to live in Miami
The best reason to live in Miami -- and the best time to live in Miami -- is right now, because we have a remarkable, burgeoning literary community. Not only do we have some of the most talented writers on Earth here, not only do we have some of the most talented writers around, but we have incredibly generous writers as well. Generous with each other as well as generous with their talents and their readers.