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BY JEANNIE RIVERA
Vacation Spots Where Books Come to Life
Love books? Self-declared and proud book nerds all over look forward to relaxing vacations where they can read at leisure without interruptions. But there’s more that literary fans can do to kick their page-turning vacation up a notch. Try combining a good book with a visit to the place that inspired it, the author’s home, or the towns that shaped his or her literary vision. Here are some destination ideas that are sure to bring your favorite books to life.
Boston is to writers what Nashville is to music. The city is associated with hundreds of authors from the early 1800s to present day. So many that there’s even a Boston Literary District, full of author homes, readings, book festivals, and more.
Most notably, Boston was Charles Dickens’ home away from home when he visited the U.S. for an extended period in 1867. It was here, at the historic Parker House Hotel, where he held his first stateside reading of “A Christmas Carol,” which he wrote 20 years earlier in his native country of England. He practiced his delivery in front of a large mirror, which now hangs on the mezzanine floor of the hotel.
Check out the birthplaces of Benjamin Franklin, co-author of the Declaration of Independence, and Edgard Allan Poe, whose 19th-century tales of mystery and horrors continue to haunt readers. Also, don’t miss Kahlil Gibran’s and Robert Frost’s respective residences. Gibran, a Lebanese-American artist, writer, and philosopher, wrote and illustrated his most famous book, “The Prophet,” while living in Boston in the early 20th century. Frost is possibly one of the most celebrated American poets of modern age.
Hartford is the birthplace of many authors — including Jay McInerney (“Bright Lights, Big City”) and Suzanne Collins (“Hunger Games”) — but it is perhaps Mark Twain who is the city’s most illustrious literary figure.
Twain moved to Hartford with his new bride in 1871, and lived with his wife Olivia and three daughters. Their home in Hartford’s Nook Farm, a historic section of the city, is now a museum. It was in this three-story house where Twain wrote many of his classics, including “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” “A Tramp Abroad,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” You can tour the house and experience the environment where he worked and lived.
Savannah, a beautiful Southern jewel shaded by oak trees and filled with cobblestoned squares and parks, has a rich literary history. Many classic and contemporary authors have drawn inspiration from the city.
A notable author born and raised in Savannah is Flannery O'Connor, one of the South's greatest writers. In the 1950s and 1960s, she penned “Wise Blood” and “The Violent Bear It Away,” and her childhood home is now a must-see museum. But it is John Berendt’s 1994 novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” that brings in thousands of book lovers year after year. It was later turned into a movie and filmed here, and you can tour the sites of the book, including the Mercer House.
This coastal North Carolina location of incredible architectural beauty and Southern hospitality has a long literary history started by one of city’s founders, John Lawson, an English explorer, naturalist, and writer. More recently, New Bern and the Tryon Palace were featured in “Outlander,” Diana Gabaldon’s popular book and TV series.
But most notably, New Bern is the home of romance novelist Nicholas Sparks. The town itself is a recurring character in his novels, “A Bend in the Road,” “The Wedding,” and “The Notebook.” The city offers a free, self-guided A Walk to Remember tour that takes fans to many of the books’ locations including the Harvey Mansion and Masonic Theater, which were both featured in “The Notebook.”