There and Back Again: A Book Lover’s Holiday

Yesterday I looked at my calendar and realized that there are 47 days until Thanksgiving, the first time that I will get a break since the semester started. Whether, like me, you are in the throes of midterms, or you are toiling away at work, I think that we can all agree that a break is in order. If you need some fodder for the daydreams that get you through to the end of the day or the semester, here are some lovely literary places that you can dream of going to while you’re studying or working.

Green Dragon

Green Dragon Tavern

Located in Boston’s North End, the Green Dragon Tavern is a wonderful place to stop and rest for a while. In the summer time the large front windows are opened, allowing for errant breezes to slip inside. This is a Literary Location mostly because of its fantastic name (does it ring a bell with the Tolkien fans out there?). But it also has a rich history. The original pub was established in 1654, and Paul Revere (who lived a few blocks away) and Samuel Adams frequented here.

Make Way for Ducklings

The Make Way for Ducklings statue by Nancy Schön, in the Boston Public Garden.

The picture book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey won the Caldecott Medal in 1941 and The New York Times has described it as “one of the merriest picture books ever”. The book tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, a couple who are looking for a safe place to raise their ducklings. They decided that Boston’s Public Garden will be the perfect place, and have many adventures around the city of Boston. If you go to the Public Garden today, you can see these charming bronze statues of Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings.

Brattle

The Brattle Book Shop in Boston

The Brattle Book Shop, also in Boston, is a treasure. The used and rare book shop is overflowing with books, and you can find some incredible books for equally incredible prices (I have given them so much of my money that it’s not even funny). They also have outdoor stalls right outside, and have this lovely mural dedicated to some of the greats. If you have an afternoon to spare, you will not be disappointed.

Louisa May

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

Concord, Massachussetts, which is not too far away from Boston, is a hot spot for Literary Locations. Back in the day, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott lived and wrote here. This is a picture of Orchard House, which you may be familiar with thanks to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a book treasured by readers around the world. Alcott based the March’s home off of her own home, and the March family bears a strong resemblance to Alcott’s own.

Jo's Woods

Orchard House’s garden

Orchard House is now a museum dedicated to Louisa May Alcott and her talented family. Little has changed about the house since Alcott lived and wrote there (except there is air conditioning. Thank God for air conditioning), and much of the furniture in the house belonged to her family. Her sister May, the basis for Amy in Little Women, was quite the artist, and sketched and painted on many of the walls in the house. If you are a fan of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, Orchard House is somewhere that you should definitely try to see. The museum tours are incredibly informative and enlightening, and add another layer to the classic book.

Walden Pond

Walden Pond

Walden Pond has changed a bit since Henry David Thoreau hung out here. Now the pond is something akin to Concord’s beach, and is a place that many people go to cool down and relax during the summer.

Thoreau

Dramatic Statue of Thoreau is Dramatic.

Though the surroundings have changed, you can still see the foundations of Thoreau’s little house, as well as a replica of the house.

154

Green Gables, made famous in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne stories.

Further north, in Canada, readers in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series will be delighted to know that there truly is a Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. Like Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery based Anne’s childhood home on the home of her cousins, who were very similar to Matthew and Marilla. Young Montgomery would walk through the real Lover’s Lane and Haunted Woods to visit her cousins’ house.

Anne's Room

Anne’s room in Green Gables

The house is now a museum, and the inside rooms have been renovated to reflect the characters in the book. This is Anne’s room, as described in the book. Note the dress with puffed sleeves hanging on the door!

PEI

Prince Edward Island. Does this remind anyone else of the beach in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races?

Prince Edward Island is a beautiful place, and it is no wonder that L.M. Montgomery and readers’ beloved Anne had so much scope for the imagination here!

Happy daydreaming, dear reader.

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