You won’t find hundreds of Northwest Florida books on the bookstore shelves, but for the most part, what’s there provides a lot of information about one of my favorite regions of Florida. For instance, if you’re looking for a Florida guide book (like the ones we've listed below), something on Florida hiking trails, history of a specific area like Destin or Pensacola, or even haunted places in Northwest Florida, there’s at least one book out there that covers it. However, keep in mind you’ll sometimes have to purchase books about Florida in general in order to get Northwest Florida information.
As a writer, I collect a lot of books. The first thing I do when I get to a new place is head to the bookstores to see what I can find about the area. I’m always interested in local history and I particularly like to find books with vintage photos. I want to know where the out of the way interesting spots are and what there is to do and see. When I first moved to Northwest Florida, I found that there weren’t a lot of books for this region alone. There were books on Florida that sometimes included Northwest Florida, but not always, so I’ve had to do some digging.
Whenever I travel, I love seeking out the history of a place. The tales of hearty settlers, the rich and famous, and those who lost their lives building a future for their descendants enthrall me, so I knew I had to add Jean Lufkin Bouler’s well researched book Exploring Florida’s Emerald Coast: A Rich History and a Rare Ecology, to my collection of Northwest Florida books.
Filled with trivia, characters, and stories of Spanish explorers and Civil War battles, the book is both a research volume and a good read. An award-winning reporter for the Birmingham News, Bouler has vacationed on the Emerald Coast for over 25 years and has had a chance to Explore the nooks and crannies of my favorite part of Florida.
Although I like off-beat and back road travel, and this book offers both, I also like to know I'm not far from "civilization." Douglas Waitley takes you down highways that were once the main thoroughfares before Interstate driving became the norm, and does it with a dry sense of humor. He isn't afraid to tell you the truth, from old murders to new hurricanes, where to buy Tupelo honey and how much hotel rooms can cost on the beach.
Best Backroads of Florida, Beaches and Hills, Volume 3 is the last in a series by Waitley covering back road travel across the whole state. In this volume, he does a great job of flushing out the hidden highlights of Northwest Florida. It's a keeper.
I’m going to admit something here; I’m not really an outdoorsy person. I was an English major, so for a long time, my idea of being outdoors was to find a great spot under a tree or by a pool where I could read my book. Then I married a Physical Education major and the next thing I knew, I was tramping through woods and up and down mountains on hiking trails. I wouldn’t say I’m a great hiker, but I do like a good little ramble on a cool day.
So when I went looking for a book on Florida hiking trails, I was delighted to find this book by M. Timothy O’Keefe, Hiking North Florida and the Panhandle. It’s easy to follow with maps and specific information about trails and nearby lodging. The book covers the whole north end of the state, but O'Keefe does a good job on Northwest Florida.
You know how some people brake for yard sales? I brake for historical markers. There's just something compelling about a weathered green sign with mysterious writing on it that I just have to know what it says. Monuments and statues are the same. I can't pass them up, so when I came across Roberta Sandler's book A Brief Guide to Florida's Monuments and Memorials I had to have it to make sure I hadn't missed something.
This book covers the whole state, which makes it a great travel guide for anyone taking a Florida road trip, but it's also a super information packed guide to history and happenings in Northwest Florida. Over 50 pages are devoted to monuments from Pensacola to Monticello and an extensive bibliography encourages further reading.
I met Kathleen Walls on a media trip several years back and was amazed at how prolific a writer she is. She's written dozens of books on topics from ghosts to the Eric Rudolph manhunt, but her favorite topic is the outdoors. When she came through Northwest Florida on her research trip for this book, I knew I wanted a copy.
Wild About Florida, North Florida is the third installment of her Wild About Florida series. It covers the state parks, forests, and other natural areas of the state from St. Augustine to Pensacola and includes some surprising off the beaten path places not normally mentioned. I've found all sorts of useful information tucked within the pages.
I love legends, tales, and ghost stories and I have to admit I have quite a collection of them from around the South. They illustrate who we are and where we came from. They glorify our heroes, bring our history to life, calm our fears, and create new ones. After all, who hasn't told a spooky story in a tent at night with a flashlight making a scary mask of your face?
So, when I learned of Dale Cox's book Two Egg, Florida, A Collection of Ghost Stories, Legends and Unusual Facts, I had to have it! In it Cox brings his hometown and the surrounding area to life with retellings of local ghost stories, legends, and facts from Florida history.
There’s nothing like a good ghost story, that is, if you can find a good ghost. Betty Davis and her intrepid crew from the Big Bend Ghost Hunters may not know exactly where the bodies are buried, but they know where to find the ectoplasm that was left behind. Filled with the history of Jefferson County and Monticello, Haunted Monticello Florida takes you to haunted houses, ghost-filled streets, and places you don’t want to go at night without a professional guide.
When I was in Monticello photographing some of the buildings, I kept wondering if there was someone or something looking out at me. Although I have stayed in a haunted bed and breakfast before, I’m not in a hurry to repeat the experience. I did find, however, that if I told the ghosts, firmly, to go in a corner and leave me alone, they seemed to pay attention. Or maybe they were just waiting for me to fall asleep. I’m glad I wrote this review on a sunny day.
Have You Read Any Great Northwest Florida Books?
I'm always looking for new books to share, but try as I might, I can't read them all. If you've read a book that you think others would enjoy, here's your chance to let them know. It doesn't have to be specifically about Northwest Florida, those books are hard to find, but if you do have one or a book that includes the region, we want to know about it.
New! CommentsSo, what do you think? Are you ready to start Exploring? I'd love to hear from you, so please leave me a comment in the box below.