Join Off the Beaten Path in welcoming Terri Peterson Smith, author of Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways. Smith will take us on a tour of America’s most fascinating literary destinations and will provide inspiration and suggestions to plan your own literary getaway.
The article offers inspiration for anyone in a book club who has been thinking of organizing a book-inspired getaway. You’ll want to read other articles there, too, about the “positive difference books make in people’s lives.” So true.
January. It’s the same routine every year. The relatives go home, the last toasts to the new year have been made, and I’m feel slightly blue–partly because my kids have left and partly because it’s been crazy cold here in Minnesota. It didn’t get above -11 on Monday. I’m talking Siberia cold.
Though it’s a bit of a letdown when the holiday frenzy is over, the quiet time of January provides a time to reflect on what I’ve done over the last year, new things I’d like to do this year, and after enough procrastination, to get fired up to do a few of those things. Since it’s been too frosty to go out, I’ve had plenty of time to hunker down and “reflect” (okay that’s my word for not getting to work). I looked back at the first post I made on this blog, which was called “Book Club Traveler” then, and I’m glad I took the time to revisit it. I always have giant lists this time of year of all the things I wish I had accomplished, a lot of “should-have-done this and why-didn’t-I-do-that,” things I need to do now. But looking back a couple of years at those first days of blogging, I’m feeling pretty good, optimistic even. My goal was to encourage readers to take their love of literature to the next level and actually travel to the places they read about. I concluded my first post with: “So, this blog will explore the places where literature and travel intersect, how to escape with a good book and understand the places we travel, with or without a book group, through the eyes of authors who have gone there before us. Let’s get out of the living room and hit the road.”
I got enough positive feedback on the concept and enough comments like, “I wish my book club would do that,” that I gradually I came to believe that the concept was worthy of a book. And, as a result, Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs and Girls on Getaways (Chicago Review Press) came out last May, hence the new name of the blog. The book features 15 U.S. destinations with essays, an extensive reading list, and a detailed itinerary for each. People always ask what was my favorite destination. In January, my favorite getaway is South Beach/Miami, Florida. I’ve written several posts about that trip like this and this. It was just arduous doing research there as you can see from this video. Notice that no one is wearing bulky sweaters or long johns.
However, if you’re dreaming of Florida right now, but not exactly getting there as soon as you’d like, pick up any book by Carl Hiassen for a crazy look at south Florida, especially Miami; Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief; Peter Mathiessen’s Shadow Country about the Florida frontier; or Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! I’m snuggled in with new books to read and dreaming up potential new adventures for the year based on those books. One benefit of travel and reading is that even if I’m home in the deep freeze, I can conjure up previous tropical sojourns to warm my heart if not my fingers and toes.
Give your mom the Mother’s Day gift she really wants: time with her kids and a good book.
It’s often a challenge to find an interesting way to celebrate Mother’s Day beyond flowers and candy, or maybe breakfast in bed. But the gift of a good book and a book-based adventure to go with it makes a present any Mom will treasure.
Women love to bond over books. The popularity of book clubs proves that. But Moms and their kids—of any age—can also share the experience of reading a great book together. Better yet, take reading a step further with a “lit trip,” based on the book. Meaningful time with her kids is the gift every mother wants.
My book, Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways offers reading lists and itineraries for three-day “lit trips” to 15 U.S. destinations. But it’s easy to create your own lit trip close to home, no matter where you live. Think “field trip” like the kind you took in school, only without the yellow bus and the sack lunch. Find a book topic that interests both you and your mother (or your kids), then think of place to go where you can experience the subject of the book in person. These don’t have to be high-brow or “girly” outings. We’re not talking reading Keats or Shelley and dancing the gavotte. Here are a few of my ideas for Mother’s Day lit trips for readers, from young adults to the young at heart:
For those who love horses or horse-racing- Read Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit
and spend an afternoon at the track or visit a horse farm.
For fans of “whodunits” – Read a book about an art heist such as The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser or The Rockwell Heist by Bruce Rubenstein and visit an art museum.
For history buffs – Read Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (or ask a librarian for tips on great books about your local history) and visit an historical society, battlefield or landmark.
For baseball fans – Read Bernard Malmud’s The Natural or Michael Lewis’s Moneyball and take in a game together.
For animal lovers – Read Temple Grandin’s Animals Make Us Human or Julie Klan’s Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself and visit or volunteer at an event at your local humane society or animal rescue group.
For the outdoorsy – Read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and go take a hike.
For music fans– Read an autobiography by a favorite musician or other book about music and take in a concert. Try Cash: The Autobiography; Blues All Around Me by B.B. King; or Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller.
For cooks – Read Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver or My Life in France by Julia Child and visit a farmers’ market or take a cooking class.
For movie goers – Read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby or Therese Anne
Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and see the new Gatsby movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
And, for moms who really do love flowers, read The Language of Flowers: A Novel, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and go on an arboretum or garden tour.
Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways, published by Chicago Review Press, is available now in bookstores and online everywhere.
Minnesota Monthly recently posted an interview that Joel Schettler did with me about
Off the Beaten Page and literary travel.
“Designed for lovers of literature and travel, Off the Beaten Page: the Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways, written by Edina resident Terri Peterson Smith, turns the power of a great story into a travel experience, taking readers on a tour of America’s most literary destinations. From a Mark Twain-inspired steamboat cruise on the Mississippi, to a walking tour of New York in the shoes of Holly Golightly from Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, detailed travel ideas and itineraries are crafted for 15 destinations across the United States that are featured in the works of famous writers—including an entire chapter on Minneapolis and St. Paul.
“I had opportunity to ask the author about her inspiration for the book, which will be published next week. Hear her speak in person on May 28 at Barnes and Noble at the Galleria in Edina beginning at 7 p.m.” Read the rest of the article.
It’s been quite a while since my last post because I’ve been hard at work on a forthcoming book entitled Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Groups and Girls on Getaways, which will be out in May. The book explores the idea of literary travel– what it is, how to plan lit trips large and small, and 15 of the best places in the U.S. for where you can both explore the settings of great books and have a great time with friends. I’m starting the new year with a new blog, Off The Beaten Page Travel, which will work in conjunction with the book, serve as a place to update lit lovers on my literary travel adventures as well as a forum where readers can share their ideas, too.
I have moved the content from Book Club Traveler to this new blog, so if you’re a subscriber to BCT, please subscribe to Off the Beaten Page Travel (www.offthebeatenpagetravel.wordpress.com). You’ll find both the information from the last couple of years along with new and frequently updated thoughts on reading and travel. The goal will remain the same as my tagline says, “Travel to the places you’ve read about. Read about the places you travel.”
Travel to the places you read about. Read about the places you travel.