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

The 5 Most Important Things I Learned on Vacation

purse

For those of you who know me personally, you are probably aware that my family vacations don’t always work out in reality the way they unfold in my head. If you don’t know me personally, remind me to share with you someday my diary from last summer’s family vacation.

In my head, vacations are just the way they appear on TV– beautiful weather, constant joy, couples holding hands while they watch their perfectly-behaved children frolicking in the surf.

In reality, vacations are sooo different. Everyone argues, the kids complain, and I spend all of our surf time in a constant state of shark-alert. There is little relaxation. It’s more or less the same life I always lead, but in a different place and without the dog.

But lest you think we don’t have any fun, let me assure you that it’s not all bad. We do lots of things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do at home, and we take time to do ordinary things that we don’t make time to do at home.

I returned from a vacation on Saturday. We had our ups and downs, as I think any family does on vacation, but I learned a few things and I thought I’d share them with you today.

1. Do you carry a purse? Do you know someone who does? Here’s a tip: when you go on vacation, make sure the purse has a shoulder strap (or two) and not just handles. Can’t tell you how many times I wish I hadn’t taken the purse I chose on vacation because I couldn’t sling it over my shoulder when I needed to. There were times I needed my hands free and my purse was always in one of them.

Why didn’t I just leave the purse at home, you ask? That’s easy: where else am I going to keep a nail file, sunglasses case, migraine medicine, motion sickness pills, and Tylenol? Also Band-Aids? Pens? Cell phone? Mints? A small notebook? Pizza coupons? Three tubes of lip balm? You can see why I can’t simply leave home without it.

2. Finish one bottle of sunscreen before starting another. If I told you we had at least a dozen partially-used bottles of sunscreen on the kitchen counter by the end of our vacation, would you believe me? But it’s true. I can only imagine how much better our kitchen would have looked with only one bottle in use at a time.

3. When you’re on a stand-up paddle board, move it away from the rocks. This is harder than it sounds if you’re trying to avoid very deep water (which I was, so that I didn’t become shark bait), but if you want to go home from vacation without visible scars, I would highly recommend it.

4. When things look especially grim, add water.

Here’s an anecdote that illustrates this lesson: one particularly ugly afternoon, my husband and I had a choice to make. The kids were driving us absolutely nuts, so we could either go to a happy hour or go to the beach and try out our brand-new stand-up paddle board. Leaving the kids in capable hands, we opted to go to the beach. We were only there for 90 minutes, but that’s all it took to completely erase our bad moods. We never stopped laughing on that paddleboard, and once we were too exhausted to keep trying to stand up on it, we just sat on the beach and enjoyed the breeze for a while. We were happier than we ever could have been if we’d hit a happy hour. Over the following two days, our kids tried the paddleboard, too. Same result. Lots of laughter, lots of fun. Interestingly, we’ve noticed on previous vacations that the kids always get along in the water. Doesn’t matter if it’s the beach or the pool or the sprinkler or the hose, but they always have fun together when there’s water.

5. Those ordinary things you make time for on vacation but don’t at home? Keep doing those ordinary things when you get back home. It might be playing a board game or watching a television show together, or just sitting on the porch in the evening, but try to keep it going. It’s rewarding and relaxing and brings back those happy vacation memories.

What do you like to do on vacation? I’d love to hear!

Until next week,

Amy