The Top 5 Places this Book Nerd Would Love to Visit

Photo courtesy of Dariusz Sankowski, pixabay

I wrote this post for another site (Book Cave) that published it last week, but I’m going to share it here, too, because I’m hoping that you’ll all chime in with your favorite bookish destinations.

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A lot of people don’t like the phrase “bucket list,” but most of us have them. I like to think of mine as a Lifelong To-Do List. My list includes things like learning Greek, visiting Turkey, and taking a cooking class in Italy.

My list is a mile long and includes lots of other things, too, but because I’m a card-carrying Book Nerd (and I suspect some of you are, too), there’s a special subset of my list that I want to share with you today: Bookish Things. This subset doesn’t consist merely of travel to famous bookish places, but also includes things like relearning stories from Greek and Roman mythology (have you noticed a Mediterranean bent to my lists?), writing a piece for a national newspaper, and finishing every single book on my Kindle.

But the Bookish Things I want to share with you today are all travel-related, since in this time of pandemic, most of us can only dream about traveling. And what better way to daydream than to imagine myself in the most fascinating bookish places in the world?

With that, I present you with the top five places on my Book Nerd bucket list.

 

Hay-on-Wye

This village in Wales, population about 1500, sits on the border with England and is home to over twenty bookshops devoted to all manner of literary niches. And traditional bookshops aren’t the only attractions: there are also a number of honesty bookshops, which are simply shelves and shelves of outdoor “shops” with a cash box nearby. Readers are asked to put their money in the cash box before walking off with a book. There are even honesty bookshelves lining the wall of one of the castles in town. Yes, there’s more than one castle in Hay-on-Wye.

There’s something about browsing shelves of real books for hours on end that I find really appealing, especially at a time when so many brick-and-mortar bookstores are closing. And there’s even a store called Murder & Mayhem, which is devoted to the kinds of books I love best. I can see myself spending way too much time (and money) in there.

Hay-on-Wye is also renowned for its annual literary festival (cancelled this year), which takes place for almost two weeks in May and June and which Bill Clinton has referred to as “Woodstock for the mind.” I hear that the town’s population skyrockets to about 500,000 during the festival.

If you want to know more about Hay-on-Wye, I suggest these two websites: https://www.solosophie.com/hay-on-wye-book-town-wales-guide/ and http://www.hay-on-wye.co.uk/.

 

Jane Austen’s House

This museum is located in Chawton, Hampshire, England. It’s the place where Jane Austen spent most of the last eight years of her life and the place where she penned Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility, among others.

The collection at Jane Austen’s House includes the legendary author’s writing desk, some furniture, personal letters, and her jewelry, among many other things. Visitors can wander through her house and garden, which I think would be enchanting.

Want to add this place to your list of Bookish Things to Do? Visit https://janeaustens.house/explore/the-museum/ to find out more.

 

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

This museum, located in Key West, Florida, USA, is the place Ernest Hemingway called home for ten years. He lived in the home during one of the most prolific periods of his writing life.

The museum is also home to many descendants of the cats who lived in the home during Hemingway’s time there.

If you think this is a place you’d like to visit, click on the link to see the website. https://www.hemingwayhome.com/.

 

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

As a devotee of Laura Ingalls Wilder from childhood, I would love to tour the places where she lived and which served as inspiration for her Little House on the Prairie series. From Silver Creek to Walnut Grove and well beyond, visitors can see where she lived (in some places, only replicas are available, but that’s okay with me) and played and farmed and taught.

Here are a couple websites you might find interesting: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/08/12/bcst-thread-books-laura-ingalls-wilder-road-trip, https://midwestweekends.com/plan_a_trip/history_heritage/ingalls_wilder/laura_ingalls_wilder_sites.html, and http://littlehouseontheprairie.com/historic-locations-and-museum-sites/.

 

The Mark Twain House and Museum

Located in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, this is the place where Mark Twain lived with his family from 1874 to 1891, when financial woes forced them to move to Europe. The house is a breathtaking example of American Gothic architecture, and it would be fun to tour for that reason alone. But to walk where Twain walked, to peek into the rooms where he laughed and wrote, would be a special treat.

If you’re a writer, the Mark Twain House and Museum also has classes, workshops, and a Writers Weekend. How cool would that be?!

To learn more about the house and museum, head to the website at https://marktwainhouse.org/. And you can even take a virtual tour by visiting this page: https://marktwainhouse.org/about/the-house/virtual-tour/.

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your Lifelong To-Do List of Bookish Things? Have you visited any of the places on my list? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time,

Amy

My Summer Reading Wish List

Since the official start of summer is only two days away, I thought I’d get a jump on deciding which summer-themed books I’d like to include in my seasonal reading wish list. This is only a guide: we all know I’m never going to get through the list before autumn begins. But I can try. Since I don’t read too much romance, I’ve stayed away from books that are primarily romances. If that’s what you’re looking for, I encourage you to Google “summer romance books” and see what you can find (there are billions).

If you’re interested in any of the books below, click on the title and you’ll be redirected to its Goodreads page.

The Weekenders: A Novel

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

 

The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman

 

A Garden Wall In Provence by [Knowles, Carrie Jane ]

A Garden Wall in Provence by Carrie Jane Knowles

 

Miss Julia Weathers the Storm: A Novel by [Ross, Ann B.]

Miss Julia Weathers the Storm by Ann B. Ross

 

The Identicals: A Novel by [Hilderbrand, Elin]

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

 

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harperperennial Modern Classics) by [Lee, Harper]

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod by [Beston, Henry]

The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston

 

Bats and Bones (The Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries Book 1) by [Nortman, Karen Musser]

Bats and Bones by Karen Musser Nortman

 

Deadly Readings (Jenkins & Burns Mysteries Book 1) by [Bradford, Laura]

Deadly Readings by Laura Bradford

 

Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake (A Death by Chocolate Mystery) by [Graves, Sarah]

Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves

 

What’s on your summer reading list?

Until next time,

Amy

My Top Five Favorite Places to Visit: Washington, DC, Edition

I recently had occasion to visit Washington, DC, on a research trip. My work-in-progress takes place in Washington and I needed to see first-hand the places where my protagonist works and lives and where she goes to do research. I lived in Washington for a very short time many years ago, and though I remember the experience fondly, my memories of some of the neighborhoods in the capital city aren’t crystal-clear. But my research trip wasn’t all research–I played the role of tourist, too. I got thinking that for my blog post this week, it would be great to share some of my favorite places in and around Washington.

 

Mount Vernon. Located not far from the US capital in Mount Vernon, Virginia, this is the plantation home that belonged to George Washington. My daughter and I visited Mount Vernon in March and both of us loved the experience. I was surprised to learn that Mount Vernon is not a national park. In fact, it is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union and the organization does a beautiful job of maintaining the buildings and the grounds for visitors. There is a working farm, a beautiful learning center where you can watch a fascinating movie about George and Martha Washington and about the estate in general, a boat landing, the plantation house, outbuildings that are open to visitors, and so much more to see. One of my favorite parts of our visit was looking at the Potomac River from the veranda of the house, which sits on a hill with a majestic view of the river in both directions.

 

 

International Spy Museum. My son and I had occasion to visit the International Spy Museum on a Boy Scout trip to Washington a couple years ago. Hands-down, it was my favorite part of that trip. Ever wanted to know how the KGB assassinated a Soviet dissident in London? Ever wondered how the CIA used to hide cyanide pills? Ever suspected the Romanians of listening in on your conversations? The answers to these mysteries and so many more are in the museum. I highly recommend a visit!

  

Ford’s Theatre. History buffs will know this as the place where President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Visitors can see the box where President and Mrs. Lincoln were sitting that fateful night; the docents willingly share their extensive knowledge of both the assassination and its immediate aftermath. If you get a chance to visit Ford’s Theatre, make a bonus stop at the Petersen House (it’s right across the street). This is the private home where Lincoln died on the morning of April 15, 1865. You’ll see the important rooms of the house where historical figures came together to pay their respects and to mourn the President’s passing.

  (photos courtesy of Pixabay/Mark Thomas)

Lincoln Memorial. And speaking of Abraham Lincoln, don’t miss a stop at the Lincoln Memorial. At the top of the steps of this building, you’ll find a huge statue of a seated Lincoln as well as gorgeous carvings of text from some of his most memorable speeches, such as the Gettysburg Address. Depending on the route you take to get to the Lincoln Memorial, you might also pass the World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, and/or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen). From the Lincoln statue, turn around to see the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument.

Tudor Place (sorry, no photos of this one). Located above Georgetown, this property is a National Historic Landmark which was once the private home of George Washington’s step-granddaughter Martha and her husband, followed by generations of their family. Visitors can tour the grounds for free and tour the house for a small fee.

There are so many things to see and do in Washington, DC, that you’ll never lack for activities if you get a chance to visit. These are just my favorite places, and I encourage you to find some of  your own!

Until next time,

Amy