Tag Archives: Wanderlust

…And Sometimes We Just Want to Go Home…

Yesterday, we talked about the joys of adventures, road trips, and the wonderfulness of summer getaways.  And encouraged you to take your own excursion, whether that was in a car, on a bike, or in your favorite chair.

But let’s be honest:  sometimes, adventures aren’t that great.  Sometimes it rains every day you’re at the exotic beach (been there).  Sometimes the museum you wanted to visit is closed for emergency ventilation work (been there, too!).  Sometimes you just get lost.

And you know what?  There are books for that, as well!  Sometimes, the most exciting books–and the most memorable adventures–are the ones that defy your expectations, grab you with unexpected revelations, or lead you down a dark, unexplored path.

So here, to balance things out, are a selection of books about journeys that didn’t go according to plan, fictional and non-fictional, funny and scary, real-world and outlandish.  Use them to comfort you, should you summer plans fall apart, or perhaps see them as a cautionary tale, but, either way–enjoy!


River of Doubt: After losing the presidential election of 1912, Theodore Roosevelt and his son left the United States for the Amazon.  Teddy was determined to conquer the most grueling and perilous physical challenge that he could find–and he met his match on one of the most dangerous rivers on earth, a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world.  In this fast-paced, well-researched, and wonderfully insightful book, Candace Millard takes us down the Amazon with Teddy, giving us a look into the man himself, as well as into the journey that nearly broke him (and killed three of the men in his party).

A Wretched and Precarious Situation : In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier: In 1906, from atop a snow-swept hill in the ice fields northwest of Greenland, hundreds of miles from another human being, Commander Robert E. Peary spotted a line of mysterious peaks looming in the distance. He called this unexplored realm “Crocker Land.” Scientists and explorers agreed that the world-famous explorer had discovered a new continent rising from the frozen Arctic Ocean.  Several years later, two of Peary’s disciples, George Borup and Donald MacMillan, assembled a team of amateur adventurers to investigate Crocker Land, dreaming of placing their names next to those of Magellan and Columbus.  Instead, they found themselves trapped in a bizarre, harrowing, and pitiless landscape that defied not only maps, but seemingly reason itself.  David Welky’s book captures the cold and the confusion of this epic adventure perfectly, and he also brings a scientists’ eye to the details of their plan, helping readers understand the real wonder of this whole story.

Station Eleven: This book is nothing like you’ve ever read, I think I can guarantee it.  A little bit of science fiction, a little bit of mystery, and a whole lot of Shakespeare combine in this story that starts with an influenza epidemic that decimates the population.  Twenty years later, Kirsten Raymonde is part of a nomadic group of actors and musicians known as the Travelling Symphony, circling the Great Lakes in a two-year cycle.   Her memories of an actor that she saw die at the beginning of the plague sparks an exploration into human nature, love, memory, and all the ways that our lives are bound up in each other.  This book is as much about personal journeys as it is about a wandering troupe of players, and is a haunting, powerful, and utterly imaginative book that is so unlike most dystopian novels out there that even those who don’t consider themselves sci-fi fans will find plenty to enjoy.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks: We’ve talked about this book before, but honestly, it’s so weird, and so unsettling, and so absolutely unlike anything else out there that I think we need to talk about it a lot more.  Jack Sparks is a pop-culture journalist, sensationalist, and all around cynical jackass, who delights in busting myths, superstitions, and religious events with equal gusto.  But after he witnesses an exorcism in Italy, odd things begin happening to him–beginning with a video being posted to his YouTube account that he never shot.  This book is presented as a compilation of the last days of Jack Sparks’ life, his wild (paranoid, desperate) adventures around the world, his increasingly erratic behavior and the many, seemingly infinite layers of truth, lies, self-delusions, and terrors that make up his existence.  It’s an exhausting, terrifying, eye-opening book that will certainly make any summer trip of your seem tame…and maybe that’s ok…

Best of luck in your travels, dear readers!  Send us a postcard!

Sometimes We Need To Get Away…

Sometimes, dear readers, you just need to get away from it all.  Just turn off the navigational devices, turn up the radio/music device of your choice, and drive/fly/train/bike to a different place.   And there is no time like summer to have just those kind of adventures.

And whether you’re the kind of person to throw caution to the winds, pack up, and head out of town with the wind at your back, or the kind to spread out in a lounging chair of some sort and read your way through an adventure, the Library is just the place for you.

Our selection of travel books, featuring local, national, and international sites and locales is extensive…and, of course, we have the power to call forth books from all corners of the state in order to help you plan your perfect summer escape.  On top of that, we also have a vast array of books that featuring road trips, train treks…even covered wagon adventures, if that’s what makes you happy…in order to help your “stay-cation” be the most adventurous and fulfilling possible.  Take a look at some of the selections below, or come in and see us for more exciting and adventurous reading recommendations!

Wicked Becomes YouGwen Maudsley is wealthy, pretty, and popular, but she’s also nice.  So nice, in fact, that she’s been jilted at the altar twice by men who think she won’t mind.  So Gwen has decided that if nice has ended in such heartache, it’s high time she decides to be naught–and she knows just the man to help her: Alexander Ramsey, her late brother’s best friend.  Alexander wants nothing to do with this plan, because he wants nothing to do with changing Gwen in any way.  He loves her precisely as she is, even if he can never tell her.  Meredith Duran is one of my favorite historical novelists, because she embraces every aspect of the period and the place she is covering.  This romp through France and Italy, from the confines of a continental train to the luxuries of the high-class hotels, comes to life in this book–and it doesn’t hurt that Alex and Gwen are such an interesting, complex pair.  For fans of my favorite romance, Follow My Lead, this is a bit of a darker, deeper story, but one that will most likely appeal.  Stop in at the Information Desk to request this book through ComCat!.

The Oregon Trail: Remember the covered wagons I mentioned earlier?  Well, Rinker Buck recreated the epic journey of the 19th-century Americans who made their way west in a covered wagon, with mules, and wrote a truly fascinating book about his adventure.  More than just a travelogue, though (and there is nothing wrong with travelogues, either), this book delves into the history of the “settling” of the American West, and the significance of the Oregon Trail, and those who traveled it, on the US today.  Anyone who grew up with the Mecc computer game, anyone whose ever dreamed of ye olde timey adventures, and any history buff around will love this book, as well as Buck’s wholly unique voice and perspective.

Stephen Fry in America: So Stephen Fry owns a black London taxicab, and in 2007, he drove it across the United States, on a quest to understand American life.  This book details those adventures (and serves a brilliant companion piece to the DVD Documentary of the adventure).  For locals, there’s a whole section about Stephen going to Salem Willows on Halloween–but this is also a really charming, funny, and insightful way to see the country we inhabit through different eyes, and to appreciate all the weird, obscure, delicious, confusing, beautiful aspects of the United States, as well….And seriously, check out the DVD, too.  It’s a delight.

Reservation Blues: Sherman Alexie’s book about a Native American rock n’ roll band sometimes gets overlooked in favor of his more oft-banned books, but it deserves a lot more love and attention.  When blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on the reservation where Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire lives, and hands him his legendary guitar, Thomas knows his life is never going to be the same. Inspired by this devilish guitar, Thomas and his “Indian Catholic” band go on tour across the country, allowing Alexie the room and scope to tell a consistently surprising, engaging story that touches on big social themes, like conversions among Native American tribes and the economic pressures of reservations.  But this is also very much a coming of age novel that delves deep into the soul of each young musician on this magical journey.

Enjoy all of your adventures, dear readers!  Send us a postcard!

Wanderlust Reading List: Kansas City, MO

Today’s post, dear readers,  come to you from Kansas City, Missouri, where I am kicking around this week for a conference.

And before anyone makes a joke about corn or hayseeds, hold off.  I can almost guarantee you, I’ve heard them all (some of them from the good people of Kansas City!)

But, to be honest, it’s a really lovely city, that is gradually, but very clearly recovering from the economic collapse of 2008, with small businesses, breweries, and restaurants taking up residence in vacated movie theaters and industrial sites, and theaters up and down Main Street.  Closer to the river, there is plenty of diverse and fascinating architecture, and, across the city, from everything I’ve seen, a genuine community spirit.  One of the first indications of this I found was in my walk to the nearest Library:

It’s pretty rainy here, sorry for the dour nature of the photo!

One of the first things that strikes visitors from the Northeast to the midwest is how much space there is.  That may not be true in all places, but here, it is.   One of the academic libraries at this conference has enough open floor space that I was tempted to perform an impromptu gymnastics routine, just because I could without bumping into anything.  The Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch is a city block in size, with big, wide windows, and a whole bunch of comfy chairs positioned by them.   A quick browse of their website shows that they have spaces designated specifically for community events and book groups, as well as film screenings, exhibit space…and a coloring space.  I fell in love as soon as I saw that.

For all the fun that is poked at the midwest, this is very clearly a library system that is devoted to their patrons from the very start.  This branch in particular prides themselves on their children’s room and the wide array of programs they put on for babies, toddlers, and school-aged patrons.

But I haven’t got to the best part yet.  For anyone who has ever despaired of the parking situation in downtown Peabody, get a look at this:

The Library.  It has it’s own parking garage.  For patrons only. 

For those of you who might want to explore Kansas City a bit more from the comfort of their own reading nook, here are a few books set in and around the city that will give you some different perspectives on the area and what it means to live here:

Dark Places: Gillian Flynn’s complex murder mystery was one of my favorite reads of last year, and provides a haunting view of Kansas City and its surroundings, reflected through the eyes of Libby Day,  Libby was seven when her mother and sisters were murdered while she hid nearby, and her testimony helped send her brother to prison for the crime.  Twenty-five years later she’s still struggling to get through each day, but when she starts to sell off family artifacts to make some money–the buyers, a group of obsessed true crime fanatics, also push her to look into the murders, which eventually forces her to question her memories.  Libby herself is like an abandoned building–stuck in the past and pretty unappealing at first glance, but as this story goes on, and she finds herself with a purpose, Libby turns out to be a fascinating and surprisingly sympathetic character.  Her trip throughout Kansas City and its surroundings is a tour of its abandoned and forgotten places, giving this book a pretty bleak outlook, but one that is so clearly drawn you’ll want to wash the dust off your hands when you’re done.

An American Tragedy: On one level, Theodore Dreiser’s classic novel is the story of the corruption and destruction of one man, Clyde Griffiths, who forfeits his life in desperate pursuit of success. On a deeper, more profound level, the novel represents a massive portrayal of the society whose values both shape Clyde’s tawdry ambitions and seal his fate: It is an unsurpassed depiction of the harsh realities of American life and of the dark side of the American Dream.  Based on a true murder case that fascinated Dreiser, this novel doesn’t move quickly, and there isn’t a great deal of action, but it’s a wonderfully complex novel that can be read in a number of ways.  Our Classics Book Group read this book some time ago, and I don’t remember a book that prompted so much debate.  The Kansas City here is an historic one, when the midwest was seen by many as the last bastion of ‘civilization’, as so much of the West was still being ‘settled’ and industrialized.  It is the model of the ‘American Dream’, and thus a place where anything is possible…but not for everyone.

Take Up the Black Man’s BurdenUnlike many cities farther north, Kansas City, Missouri—along with its sister city in Kansas—had a significant African American population by the mid-nineteenth century and also served as a way station for those migrating north or west. “Take Up the Black Man’s Burden” focuses on the people and institutions that shaped the city’s black communities from the end of the Civil War until the outbreak of World War II, blending rich historical research with first-person accounts that allow participants in this historical drama to tell their own stories of struggle and accomplishment.  Impressively, this isn’t just a book of famous biographies, though it does feature famous citizens such as activists Ida M. Becks and Josephine Silone Yates, and state legislator L. Amasa Knox, but it also focuses on ordinary laborers, domestics in white homes, and railroad porters. It tells how various elements of the population worked together to build schools, churches, social clubs, hospitals, the Paseo YMCA/YWCA, and other institutions that made African American life richer. It also documents the place of jazz and baseball, for which the community was so well known, as well as movie houses, amusement parks, and other forms of leisure.  This is a book about race, but also about a city, and is a rich and unique way to look at the history of the midwest and the United States.

Safe travels, dear readers!

Saturdays @ the South: Take Me to the Tropics

I’m not a particular fan of the snow, largely because I don’t enjoy being cold and wet and snow provides both of those sensations simultaneously. After 11 inches of snow in one day, my window has almost as much snow stuck to the outside screen:

My cat is not happy that she can’t keep up her window-vigil with her usual diligence.

Because of this, I’m pretty much planning to re-erect my blanket fort from hermitage month and seriously considering making winter hermitage season. In the meantime, I’m looking for books that take me away, bonus if they can make me laugh. So here are books designed to do just that:

Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore

Tucker Case is a  “cool guy,” who discovers he’s a lot more hapless and clueless than he realized when he crashes his employer’s plane into a tiny island in Micronesia. Because it’s Christopher Moore, hilarity and intrigue ensue. Also, because it’s Christopher Moore, there’s a talking fruit bat named Roberto.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is a master of deadpan comedy and this classic, oddball book possibly his most well-known work after Slaughterhouse-Five. Dr. Felix Hoenikker has left the world a deadly legacy in the form of ice-nine which could bring about global destruction. One of Hoenikker’s children try to keep their family legacy under wraps by following a trail down to the Caribbean where they encounter a dictator and a religion called Bokonon. This book is for those who like a thought-provoking Armageddon with their tropical humor.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

For a little non-fiction in the mist, Troost follows his then-girlfriend (now his wife) to a tiny island in the South Pacific called Tarawa, where they encounter incompetent government officials, a self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (who has never written a poem in his life), and an endless loop of La Macarena playing everywhere. If you’re looking for something that will take you away, make you laugh out loud and make you thankful for indoor plumbing, coffee and regular news feeds, this book will do just that.

I hope I’ve offered you a few options for one of the best reasons for reading: escape. Till next week, dear readers, stay warm and safe!

Wanderlust Reading List: Belgium

Happy Monday, dear readers!

Today, we bring you a wanderlust reading list based on my recent trip to Belgium…it was for a history conference, which was great, but to be honest, I was so busy, I didn’t even get a waffle.  I’m not joking.


I spent most of my time in Ghent, a port city that grew along the convergence of the Scheldt and Leie rivers, and was one of the wealthiest cities in Belgium–and Europe–in the middle ages.  Flemish art and culture flourished here, as can been seen in the stunning architecture and artwork throughout the city; for the record, ‘Flemish’ is a word that describes the Dutch language and culture, as well as the numerous dialects of the Dutch language (Belgian Dutch sounds surprisingly different from Netherlands Dutch, which I never knew!)

The city remained a major site for the textile industry, making it a hub of culture and commerce well into the 19th century, and the War of 1812 ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.  Two years later, the University of Ghent was established, and remains a prestigious place of learning to this day.

Ghent by day
Ghent by day

Though Ghent was occupied by the German Army in both World War One and World War Two, but remained comparatively untouched, especially in comparison to places like Ypres, which was literally wiped off the map.  As a result, Ghent is a stunningly beautiful city, with panoramic river views, big statues, wide, welcoming squares, and plenty of outdoor spaces in which to take it all in.  There are oodles of bars, cafes, and restaurants, offering a huge variety of food and drink–particularly Belgian beer, which is typically light in color and so wheaty that it’s rather like drinking a dinner roll.  As a result, it’s a perfect choice for drinking while sitting a spell near the river and watching the varied world go by.

Ghent by night

And while I didn’t get a waffle in the course of my travels, I did, however, find a charming English-language bookstore by the Leie River, who introduced me to a whole range of Belgian literature (in translation, obviously) that made me feel like I had spent weeks wandering the Flemish countryside, waffle in hand, chatting with charming Dutch-speaking locals and their picturesque cows.  And, thanks to that chat, I was able to get a number of recommendations for those who would like to take an armchair adventure to Belgium–and might very well come back having experienced much more culture than I did!

3352645The Square of RevengePieter Aspe is a best-selling Flemish crime author whose detective Pieter Van In, who lives and works in a fictionalized Bruge, is fast becoming a cultural institution.  He’s got every bad habit you can think of, from chain-smoking to gruff, phlemgy interruptions of anyone with whom he disagrees, but there is no doubt that Van In can get the job done.  In this first of his cases, Van In is called to investigate a break-in of one of Bruge’s most famous, luxurious jewelry store; but rather than make off with the assortment of precious and historic jewels, the vandals dumped them in a vat of corrosive acid, leaving only a scrap of paper on which a strange square has been drawn in the burgled safe.  Together with the stunning and sharp DA Hannelore Martens, Van In finds himself being drawn ever further into a case that becomes increasingly complicated with every step.  Not only is this book a superb introduction to a beloved Belgian series, but armchair adventurers will love Aspe’s descriptions of Bruge and the lives of his characters there.


3699331Styx:  The prolific and consistently surprising Bavo Dhooge was born in Ghent, though his latest paranormal detective novel is set in the coastal city of Ostend.  Rather like Aspe’s Van In, the detective in this story, the middle-aged Rafael Styx, is cranky and sore, dealing with a bad hip and a failing marriage.  However, this case deals with a ruthlessly clever serial killer known as The Stuffer, who fills his victims full of sand and poses them as public art installations.  Indeed, Styx very nearly winds up as The Stuffer’s latest victims–but rather than dying of the shot he took to the chest, Styx instead wakes up a zombie.  Though he has to deal with some unpleasant side-effects of this condition, not least of which is nearly-controllable bodily decay and a growing taste for human flesh, Styx finds that there are benefits–including the ability to travel within Ostend’s history, which gives Styx a very unique insight into his criminal prey.  Dhooge’s description of Ostend during the Belle Epoque is not to be missed, but it is his wickedly black humor and willingness to take his story where you least expect it, is really what makes this book such a treat to read.

3020008On Black Sisters Street: A native of Nigeria, Chika Unigwe now lives in Belgium, and her stories relate the pain, struggles, and consistent loss that is the immigrant experience.  In this novel, set in Antwerp, four women share an apartment in the red-light district, pledged to a ruthless Madam and an enigmatic pimp, they are seen by most as little more than commodities.  But in Unigwe’s startling and deeply moving story, each woman presents her own story, revealing her deep humanity, and the secrets, hopes, and fears that drive her onward.  Though bleak, the bond that forms between these women is powerful and transformative, making this story far more than a tear-jerker.  It is also a ruthlessly precise and incisive view of Europe from an African perspective, giving new insight into the perennial issue of immigration, to Europe, as well as around the world.

2046498Cheese: There is no political satire quite like a Belgian political satire, and this classic by Dutch author William Elsschot is a hallmark of that particular genre.  First published in 1933, this novel tells the story of Frans Laarmans, a harried clerk in Antwerp who suddenly finds himself the chief agent for Edam cheese, those little red-rind Dutch cheeses, and ordered to sell thousands of wheels, and some 370 cases containing ten thousand full-cream cheeses.  This might be some people’s dream come true, but not only does Laarmans not know how to run a business, he doesn’t even like cheese!  As a visit from his bosses loom, Laarmans traverses the city, exploring its rigid class structure and charming foibles, gently cracking under the pressure of cheese.  Though Elsschot had a stellar wit, and delivers the details of this story with deadpan humor, he still manages to build quite a lot of tension into the story, dragging readers along on Laarmans’ quest to sell cheese and recover his life.  This book also provides some fascinating insight into the world of historic Belgium, and all its quirks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure, dear readers!

Library Books in the Wild…

Illustrations found in a library book last Saturday

Honestly, at this point, it’s no secret that I love books.  I can’t travel without at least two because you never know….you might get trapped on a delayed train (been there), you might get stuck in a 3-hour-long customs line (just survived that, too), you might have to stave off an uprising by reading out loud to soothe the troubled masses (ok, I haven’t done that yet, but I’m not putting it outside the realm of possibility).  And while e-books from Overdrive do, indeed, make a lot of sense for travelers who don’t want to lug a physical book along with them for the duration of their trip, I live in abject terror of batteries dying, which is why I tend to pack both my Kindle and (at least) two physical books (usually from the library) with me whenever I’m gone more than an over night.


This week, I’m getting some dissertation research done (look for a Postcard Post coming up later in the week), and while I was standing in the afore-mentioned 3-hour-long customs line, a chatty person in line noticed the barcode, while snooping at the title of the book in my hand (which was Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, by Paul Tremblay).

“You take library books on trips with you?”  the Individual said, with incredulous awe.

“Um…yes?”  I said, forcing myself to look up from said book and act nice for a moment.

“But…aren’t you afraid something might happen?” This Individual queried, in the same tone that horror movie characters usually reserve for the question “Did you hear that ominous moaning noise coming from the basement?”

“Umm…”  I said, eloquent as always.

“I would never take a library book so far away with me!”  Said Individual, with mounting righteous indignation.

And this is where the conversation fizzled.

Because that is precisely one of my favorite things about library books–they travel.  They go on adventures.  They get to go to the beach, or to the mountains; they get to go on planes and trains, and in cars, and on boats; they probably log more miles in travel that most of us will in any given year.  And often, they come back with some small story about the journey they’ve taken.

469266344Now, we all love library books, and we all know that taking care of them is a very good thing.  Not letting your library book go swimming, or stay out in the sun too long, or fall down a mountain is always a good idea.  But I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when a book comes back with make-shift bookmark, like a ticket stub, or an airline napkin, or receipt from Far Away, still tucked inside it–or even artwork, like the kind we got last weekend, pictured above, which, I think, depicts a Prince and Princess at the beach, under an umbrella.

Because it means that these books have lived.

56928382759559705bDcdj62EcIt means that you, dear readers, have taken that book out into the wide world, and made it part of your personal history.  You have added to the story of that book (not just the story in the book) by bringing it out into the world with you, and then bringing it back to share with the rest of us.  Those small tokens of travel, adventure, or a lived life that are in those pages are a testament to the power of stories in our lives, as well as to the power of Libraries to bring so many people together in love of those stories.

So, by all means, go and take your books out with you to wherever your adventures take you.  Take good care of them, and good care of yourself, and make lots of memories together.  Trust me, it makes all of us–the books included–better for it.

Saturdays @ the South: Literary Day-Tripping


As the facilitator of the Wanderlust Book Discussion Group, it’s no surprise I’m a big fan of travel both local and far-flung. As a book-lover, I’m also a fan of literary travel. Not necessarily traveling by book (though you already know I’m a huge fan of that). I’m talking about visiting places with literary connections. I’ve been to literary sites as close as The House of the Seven Gables and as far-flung as Edinburgh, Scotland, (the *entire city* is a UNESCO World-Heritage site for literature; my kind of place!). It’s a particular passion of mine to get my geek on in places were great authors have lived or that have inspired some of my favorite books.

We’re very fortunate here in Massachusetts to have many literary connections and places that have preserved (or are in the process of preserving) the sites where some of our state’s great literary magic have happened. Which basically means that during the summer, “staycations” are within easy reach and there’s no dearth of options to choose from. Here are some options should you like to take a road trip to some of our awesome literary sites:

1955906Make Way for Ducklings

A mere train ride away lies the statue commemorating Robert McCloskey’s immortal tale inspired by true events in the Boston Public Gardens. This is a great, free way to spend part or all of a day and maybe make some duckling friends of your own.
2262409Walden Pond

The site of Henry David Thoreau’s experiment in simplified living in a tiny-house, long before it became the rage on HGTV and where he composed much of his eponymous book.

2224659Jack Kerouac Park

A short ride North, this relatively new commemorative park celebrates one of the most famous Beatniks and Lowell, MA native. You can also pay your respects to the “On the Road” author at the Edsom Cemetery, where he’s buried.

6121995102173dfe7378c90aadbee9d5Edward Gorey House

Edward Gorey holds a place in my heart for being the illustrator of the John Bellairs books I so loved as a child and for being a cat lover. His illustrations are still widely seen (most notably on Masterpiece Mystery) and his house is now a well-maintained museum on Cape Cod.

2188287Emily Dickinson Homestead

Further west, you’ll find the reclusive poet’s home no longer closed off. It is open to the public as a museum, (which has put its manuscripts of Dickinson’s poetry online!) and the gardens are being restored to their former glory with heirloom varieties that were grown by the Dickinsons.

Here at the South Branch, we offer several Massachsetts and New England travel guides so that even if your travel tastes don’t trend towards the literary the way mine do, you’re sure to find something locally to enjoy these warm summer days:

3661147Inns and Adventures by Michael J. Tougias and Alison O’Leary

Tougias is best known for his historical writings such as Ten Hours Till Dawn and So Close to Home, but he has co-authored this New England guide with travel writer O’Leary to find some great hikes and out-of-the way inns that are worth the trip. We had O’Leary come to the South Branch to talk about this book last September and believe me when I tell you, she knows her stuff. Anyone who enjoys hiking, the outdoors or resting in a cozy B&B is bound to find some great nuggets of info here that will get them packing the car.

2280131Off the Beaten Path: Massachusetts by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers and Stillman Rogers

This guide is as-advertised, offering locations that are hidden gems amidst even some of the most popular, well-known areas. Broken down by sections of the State (North Shore, South Shore, Pioneer Valley, Cape Cod, etc.), this book is also easy to plan from so you won’t be looking at hidden gems on opposite ends of the state on the same page.

366114650 Great Bed & Breakfasts and Inns: New England by Susan Sulich

All hail Susan Sulich who had the brilliant idea to find fantastic B&Bs across New England and not only put information about why they’re great into a book, she also found out what dishes they’re famous for and put those recipes in the book. This is perfect companion to discover a great getaway and have a fantastic memento to remind you of your trip that you can make over and over again. They say sense memory creates the strongest recall, so you’re sure to make some delicious memories with this book.

2023328Main Streets and Back Roads of New England by Susan Sloane, Chris Stirling and the Chronicle Staff

The perennially popular TV show Chronicle published a book a while back based on their popular segment: Main Streets & Back Roads. What resulted was this compendium of people and places distinct and worth visiting in their own unique ways.

Till next week, dear readers, whether the weekend takes you far afield or only as far as your favorite reading spot, I hope you enjoy it!