Before our family goes on vacation to a country unknown to us, my Dad usually loads up on every travel book and guide ever published on that location.
Funny thing about Anguilla and Anguilla books...
It all started backwards. First came the travel book, then came the interest.
Our entire love affair with Anguilla, and our "library" of books on Anguilla, started quite by accident.
My dad was on a routine browsing-trip for books (he keeps book stores in business, I think!).
He loves "We quit the rat race and moved to some-place-you've-never-heard-of" stories. So when he came across an innocent-looking, promising-sounding book called A Trip To The Beach, it came home with him.
And that, as they say, is how it all started...
By: Melinda Blanchard and Robert Blanchard
An inspiring book, the story is about two people "slowing down" and opening up a restaurant in Anguilla. Their love of the island, through successes and mishaps, their description of the island and its people, caught my dad's fancy. This book is really about a journey down a "road less travelled."
Shortly after reading A Trip to the Beach, my dad was talking to a friend about it. His friend was quite knowledgeable about the Caribbean. Since my Dad had not previously heard of Anguilla (he always thought it was "Angola" spelled incorrectly!), and since his friend knew the Caribbean inside-out, he asked him if he had ever heard of "Anguilla."
His friend had just taken a long-term lease on a villa. They were taking possession on March 1 and were planning on their first trip April 1. But we were welcome to stay in March... and so began our first trip to Anguilla!
From "book" to "booked" in one week, and with no notice. We had not been sure where we were going for Spring Break in 2002. So we arrived without a single tourist book... quite out of character for my Dad.
However, he had dog-eared every interesting page in the Blanchard's book. And he did make it a point to meet interesting people mentioned in the book, including the Blanchards and Bennie Connor (a wonderful person who will make you smile most of the time, and laugh the rest).
But, caught for the first time without his books, my dad armed himself with the best map possible, and we set out to adventure-explore the island on our own. And... we did just fine.
Since Anguilla is so safe, and so small, all you really need is a good map. You can't get lost.
You'll find many wonderful little spots, many not listed in any tourist book, and you'll gain a deep feel for the island and its people.
Don't be shy to ask where the best local restaurant is. My dad never is and people are always glad to help out.
Since then, during that trip (and others) and afterwards through the Net, we did find other books, of course. Here are the best of the bunch (many of which my dad calls "total wastes of time and money"), each one chosen for a particular, unique reason...
A "general guidebook to Anguilla" is likely to be your first find...
By: Paris Permenter and John Bigley
This is probably the most widely available "overall guide" on Anguilla. Like the others of its kind, I can't really recommend it. It may be the best of this kind of book, but the information is just so general. You'll find more useful information in this Web site. We never use it. NOT RECOMMENDED (nor others like it)
The next book is a real "insider" guide, written by two people who know and love Anguilla intimately, being lifelong Anguillians who have made the study and history of Anguilla a large part of their life's work (Colville Petty used to own/run the Anguilla Heritage Museum). You may find it when you're on the island, but it's very hard to find otherwise (except here, of course!).
By: B. Carty and Colville Petty
What a fantastic guide book to Anguilla! History, heritage, special events, trees and flowers, birds and wildlife, secret ponds and waterfowl, explorations of all the major regions -- this book is the best. We love it -- it's a constant companion in the car. A MUST HAVE!
My Dad got lucky and found this book in the "Lend-one-borrow-one" library in the Arawak restaurant. He borrowed it for a day trip to St. Martin, loved it, and then bought the new edition...
By: Harriet Greenberg
Excellent material on St. Barts and St. Martin. Good tips, out-of-the-ordinary recommendations, easy to read and carry around. Anguilla is its weakest section, however. INVALUABLE FOR DAY TRIPS TO ST. MARTIN AND ST. BARTS.
Donald Curtis, a friend of my dad's and an offshore professional who works on the island, gave my dad a copy of the following book. He laughed all the way home on the plane. So I'll let him write this review. (NOTE: It's out of print, but you can likely find it by clicking on the "Used and New" links once you click over to Amazon.)
By: Donald E. Westlake
Donald Westlake pokes the needle at everyone, but especially the British and how badly Anguilla was administered. He recounts one of the weirdest bits of history with a ruthless stiletto. No one is safe, not even the fathers of the "revolution."
The book culminates with the father of Anguilla (Ronald Webster, who I met) and a few "revolutionaries" manipulating Britain into invading Anguilla (with Britain becoming the laughingstock of the world for a few weeks, much like the Falklands). Over the following years, Britain then basically gives Anguilla everything it wanted and needed.
By: Melinda Blanchard and Robert Blanchard
The Blanchards' latest book on Anguilla takes us full circle, right back to them and their restaurant and Anguilla cooking...
Recipes straight from their famous restaurant, and from their second home, Vermont. It as beautifully photographed as their first book was lovingly written. Although their restaurant has won awards, their recipes are for true homemade meals, appealing and easy.
So lots of great family projects await us, from Jamaican Jerk Shrimp to Vermont Picnic Ham. OUR FAVORITE ANGUILLA BOOK YET! YUM.
By: Jackie Cestero
From Bananaquits to Boobies acquaints you with all of the bird species that call Anguilla home!
Written by Jackie Cestero, a birding enthusiast and long-term resident expert on Anguilla's wetlands and birds, Jackie has long had a passion for Anguilla's wildlife. It is no surprise that she is also the owner of the island's first eco-tourism business, Nature Explorers Anguilla. :-)
A beautiful e-book, rich in photography, Jackie covers all of Anguilla's birds, including seabirds, egrets, herons, shorebirds, raptors and land birds.
By: Jackie Cestero
Jackie Cestero of Nature Explorers Anguilla has done it again!
A tremendous effort, Jackie has put together Anguilla's very first birding field guide.
She covers over 85 species and even tells you where you can commonly spot them.
Beautifully photographed, it's a must for every Anguilla nature lover!
Anguilla Bookstore: Coral Reef Bookstore Welcome to Anguilla's first big bookstore, rich with Anguilla information, Caribbean literature and modern popular books for both adults and children! Click here for more Anguilla information on Coral Reef Bookstore
Anguilla Magazines? There's only one, and it's superb. I love receiving it when I'm at home in Canada... especially when it's cold (which is almost always!). It's called Anguilla Life -- don't miss an issue, whether you're on the island or back home.
Anguilla Article 2005 What defines Anguilla for you? Click here to read my article published in the 2005 winter edition of Anguilla Life.
Anguilla Newspaper and Anguilla News? We have a favorite Anguilla news source when we're off the island. And my Dad never misses an issue of this Anguilla newspaper while we're on it. Click here to get all the Anguilla news, no matter where you are.
There are other books on Anguilla, of course, but many are out of date or simply not that good. I'll update this page as strong new ones are published...