Lauren Groff poses at the Festival America in Vincennes in 2018

Author Lauren Groff Opens The Lynx Bookstore To Showcase Banned Books in Florida

Lauren Groff is responding to the rise of book bans in Florida by opening The Lynx in Gainesville, a bookstore that highlights banned books and LGBTQ+ and BIPOC authors and serves as a safe haven from the state’s hostile political climate.

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While book banning has been sweeping across the United States at unprecedented rates for the past few years, no state has been as impacted as much as Florida. Run by right-wing Governor Ron DeSantis and serving as the birthplace and headquarters of the hate group Moms for Liberty, it’s not surprising the state has become America’s leader in book banning.

According to the American Library Association, Florida schools and libraries targeted a staggering 2,700 titles in 2023 alone for restriction or removal. Legislation passed by DeSantis has raised fear of felony charges against teachers and librarians for providing books to children, leading countless school districts to simply pull books by the hundreds to comply with vague laws.

Despite the numbers, DeSantis has consistently claimed that book bans don’t exist in Florida and are simply a hoax concocted by Democrats. However, book bans are rampant in the state and mean countless children are being denied the resources they need. Meanwhile, Florida as a whole has become hostile to BIPOC individuals and the LGBTQ+ community, with the state seeking to prohibit DEI training, ban the teaching of African American studies in school, and prohibit the mention of LGBTQ+ topics in school. The hostile politics are a part of the reason why short-term and long-term residents are increasingly leaving the state. Now, Groff is taking action to provide books and a safe space for residents.

Lauren Groff opens The Lynx in Gainesville, Florida

Groff, the bestselling and award-winning author behind Fate and Furies and other works, recently celebrated the grand opening of her bookstore, The Lynx, in Gainesville, Florida. While Groff was born in New York, she, her husband, and their two children have settled in Gainesville. The state has come to mean much to her, even inspiring a short story collection titled Florida. It has been very difficult for her to see the state succumbing to hatred and bigotry, to the point where book bans are the norm and people she loves no longer feel safe living there. However, her husband’s business is in Florida and she cannot leave the state. Instead, she decided to make the best of her situation by promoting love instead of hatred.

Groff explained to Teen Vogue, “I want to react against this dissemination of hate and overpower it with sheer love, which I know sounds really utopian, but I’m a writer of novels. There’s nothing more utopian than that.” She emphasized that The Lynx isn’t trying to push back against Republicans but instead merely wants to be a welcoming environment and celebration of all voices. Groff spent months carefully crafting her first book order, as she wanted The Lynx to carry nearly all of the books that Florida “has decided is not kosher.” This means “there will be a lot of Toni Morrison” and “a lot of queer authors.” While the bookstore really wants to highlight banned books and diverse voices, it will also celebrate Florida authors and offer a variety of literary staples, such as Shakespeare.

Groff settled on the name Lynx because it refers to a wild cat native to Florida but also sounds like “links,” capturing her desire to be “the link between disparate communities, the central nexus for literary events and culture in Florida.” The Lynx is particularly important as numerous bookstores around Groff closed due to the toll of book banning. Her indie bookstore won’t be as easy to dissolve, as she is currently funding it solely from proceeds from her books, although she expects more funding to kick in shortly.

She anticipates strong backlash to The Lynx but revealed it will take a lot to phase her as she’s quite accustomed to the hatred and backlash that one receives for merely “being an opinionated woman in the world.” Groff recognizes she has the voice and platform to fight against book banning and wishes to wholeheartedly support any writers or individuals currently feeling unsafe and unsupported in Florida. It’s comforting to know there’s at least one beacon of light in Florida and that every book the state seeks to ban will likely find a place in Groff’s bookstore and continue landing in the hands of those who need it.

(featured image: Bassouls / Getty)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.