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

You Have Homework

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I’ve spent much of the last two weeks researching the history of the county where I live in preparation for a new series I’ll be starting soon. I’m nowhere near done, but I’ve enjoyed the journey and I’ve learned a lot. It struck me while I was working that I always assume the history of the place where I live is boring–it doesn’t matter whether I’m talking about the town where I grew up, the town where I went to college, or any of the other places I’ve lived–but time and again, I’ve been proven wrong.

History takes place everywhere, so it stands to reason that every place has a history.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But it’s easy to forget.

The county where I live now has been plagued by pirates, fires, disease outbreaks, wars and battles, natural disasters, and any number of other horrors. It’s fascinating! And as has been the case with my other books, I’ve enjoyed the research so much that I have been reluctant to put on the brakes and actually start writing.

This misconception of mine, this belief that nothing interesting has ever happened where I live, reminded me of a similar phenomenon that I’ve noticed before. I call it “ignoring my own backyard” and I’ll give you an example. I lived in and near New York City for almost nine years. I never visited the Statue of Liberty. Never saw Ellis Island. Here’s another example: I lived in Louisville, Kentucky, during late spring/summer one year. Never visited Churchill Downs (not that I’m a fan of horse racing, but the racetrack looks pretty interesting).

I could give anecdote after anecdote until I’m blue in the face, but you probably get the picture. It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of your own life and never venture out to see what your community or your environment has to offer. Sometimes those offerings are tourist traps, but often they’re not. I think we get involved in the busyness of every day and when we contemplate visiting some of those places, we tend to think, “I can visit that place anytime. It’s just down the road.” Or “My kids went there on a school trip, but I just haven’t had time. I’ll get there one of these days.” But very often we never get there.

I’m thinking of one place in particular, a place near my home, a place I’ve never been, a place I’m planning to visit soon. It’s been there for three hundred years and it deserves a closer look. It’s on my list of places to see before summer is over. Who knows? It may end up in my next book.

So that leads me to your homework assignment. Try visiting someplace new this week-someplace near your home, someplace you’ve never been. A place you’ve overlooked driving down the road, a place you pass every day on your way to work. If it’s a museum or other facility that helps you learn more about the history of where you live, you get bonus points.

Where are you going to go? I’d love to hear about it.

Until next week,

Amy