Maintaining my blog has been a challenge in itself lately; there seem to have been so many things going on in my life recently, from juggling two jobs to going on various weekends away! There will always be time for books, however, so I’m continuing to plough through my 30 Before 30 Challenge. It’s progressing more slowly than I originally envisaged due to so many other commitments, but that’s just life unfortunately!
As it’s World Book Day on Thursday and I’m only halfway through my current book, I thought I’d take a break from discussing actual books to share some of the best places I think that a book lover can visit, both physically and virtually. Here’s my top five:
Sites of Literary Interest
Wherever you live, there’s bound to be a place of literary interest within a reasonably commutable distance (unless you live in the middle of the Amazon rainforest!). In the UK there are hoardes of amazing places that have a literary connection. As a Yorkshire girl, my favourite literary pilgrimage destination has always been Haworth, the home of the Brontes. Non-drivers might find it a bit difficult to get to as it doesn’t have a train station (though there is a steam train that runs through it in the summer months), but I’m sure any true pilgrim would be more than willing to sit for hours on trains and buses to get there!
Besides infusing me with literary awe, my annual trip to the picturesque village of Haworth is lovely simply because it’s a gorgeous place to visit- a typically quaint English town of cobbled streets, cute tearooms, and quirky little shops situated in the midst of a dramatic rural landscape. I would definitely recommend it to any book lover, but if Haworth is a bit far for you to travel to, find a more local site of literary interest.
Online Literary Gift Companies
Despite my constant assertion that I’m a technophobe and wish that I lived in the pre-digital age, I have to admit that, like most people, I rely on my computer for everything. One thing that I particularly love about the Internet is how you can spend hours researching things that you’re interested in and stumble across so many things you would never have found without it! Recently discovered websites that any book lover will adore include www.literarygiftcompany.com , www.bookishengland.co.uk and www.bookishly.co.uk. All contain wonderful literature-related gifts, such as jewellery, cards and prints that will make you think you’re in book heaven!
One day I intend to adorn my walls with book related prints, but as I currently have no wall space to decorate, I’ll have to do it virtually instead, using a print from Bookishly:
In a world of Amazon and Kindles, independent and secondhand bookshops are a dying breed. For me personally, part of the pleasure of the reading process lies in visiting quirky bookshops, hunting out musty old books, and revelling in the ‘bookish’ atmosphere. I appreciate that not all book lovers feel like this, and that some of my friends think I’m a bit odd when I start talking about the feel and smell of old books, but I do think it’s important to support independent second hand bookshops as much as we can, many of which provide an interesting alternative experience to the homogeneity of chain and online stores.
Of all the bookshops in all the towns in all the world (to misquote Casablanca), the most amazing one I’ve ever visited is Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I’m not going to lie- this is partly because of the name and the fact that it’s situated in Paris, my favourite city. Besides this, however, the shop has a piano, a typewriter, and a gorgeous quote on the wall, and apparently gives free lodging to aspiring writers in exchange for them working in the shop! If only I was more proficient in French…
Your Local Library
Like independent bookshops, libraries are also becoming increasingly redundant in the face of growing online book sales/downloads, yet they provide so much more than just books. As the venue for many adult workshops/educational activities for kids, libraries are a valuable part of the community- a place where anyone can go, regardless of class, age, ethnic origin, or employment status. By supporting your local library, you not only get to borrow books for free, but also show that you recognise the service that libraries offer as an important contribution to the local community.
We’ve all seen film adaptations of books, but how many people have actually seen a theatrical adaptation? Visiting the theatre to see a play/stage version of a piece of literature is one of my favourite things to do, and, despite what people might think, it isn’t solely the pursuit of the middle classes. Anyone can go to the theatre and enjoy it; you just need enthusiasm and an open mind! Whether you agree with someone’s artistic interpretation or not, seeing someone else’s imagination brought to life on stage is really interesting and often gives you a deeper insight into the book.
At the moment, I’m a massive fan of dance adaptations, particularly those by Northern Ballet, a UK based contemporary ballet company. If you enjoy dance/creative expression, I’m sure you’ll agree that their versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Great Gatsby are utterly spectacular!
Thanks for reading, and have a bookishly good World Book Day!