Unless you’ve been there, you might not know that Alcatraz, aka The Rock, has its very own bookstore, run by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Inside you can find a selection of Alcatraz histories and memoirs. When I visited earlier this week, not only did I get the chance to pick up a copy of Alcatraz #1259, a first-hand account of life on the inside, by William G. Baker, I also got to meet Baker, one of the last living former inmates of the notorious prison. He signed my book, too!
After Seattle, road-tripping bibliophiles will undoubtedly make their way to Portland, Oregon, to visit Powell’s, one of the ten best indie shops in the world, according to readers polled by the Guardian. I agree — it’s sprawling but well signposted, and fun surprises await around every corner. I could have spent all day there, but, on this occasion, two hours had to suffice.
Well, readers, I’m on vacation this week, which means, among other things, visiting bookstores I’ve never visited before. My fellow travelers generally allow me one per city. In Seattle, it was the landmark Elliott Bay Book Company, of course, where I purchased a copy of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.
Victor Hugo was exiled from France in 1851 after unsuccessfully blocking Louis Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup d’etat, which left him bumping around Europe for a few years until finding sanctuary on the island of Guernsey, located off the Normandy coast. Of Hugo’s nineteen years spent in banishment, fifteen of those were at Hauteville House, a majestic property built in the hills of Saint Peter Port.
Literary tourism is big business. While new book festivals continue to spring up, recent research from the VisitEngland tourist board indicated that more than half of British holidaymakers would visit a literary attraction on vacation. Another increasingly popular way of combining books with holidays is to visit one of the dozens of small villages and towns around the world devoted to bookselling.
Guest Post by Catherine Batac Walder
Should you find yourself in or near Hartford, Connecticut, make time for the Mark Twain House & Museum. I visited last week and was awed by its beauty. Twain (or Clemens) and his wife, Livy, relocated to Hartford in 1871 and engaged architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design the 25-room abode. They moved in three years later. Even if you--or members of your travel party--have only read one Twain novel, back in high school, the house alone will delight. One sign I noticed called it 'America's Downton Abbey.' Not quite, but you get the point.
Looking for a reason to go to England? The Medieval Academy of America may have something just for you.
Guest post by Catherine Batac Walder