Monday, August 12, 2013

Travel Notes from Summer's End

Call it summer's last hurrah - a final week of wandering, exploration and introspection before diving back into fall's rush of school and work. We covered a few thousand miles along the way, the scenery varying dramatically from the quiet, lush mountains of North Carolina to the urban landscape of New York City.

Short stories make excellent travel companions, especially when your trip is split between locations or when you are reading in stolen moments. My literary company on this trip included Ethel Rohan's Goodnight Nobody, a wonderful new collection of short stories from Queens Ferry Press (more about this one coming soon), and Lorrie Moore's older short fiction collection Like Life - the first, and most of the second read largely in a rocking chair overlooking miles of mountain peaks and treetops.

By stark contrast, our next few days were spent walking the bustling, vibrant streets of New York, where art and ideas are everywhere you look:

A visit to Idlewild Books was one of our favorite stops - we spent well over an hour browsing this tiny but thoroughly engaging gem of a travel bookshop, which offers thoughtfully chosen travel guides, fiction and non-fiction, gorgeous children's books, and even language classes. The books (guides and literature) are organized by region, each shelf its own rabbit hole of enticement. It was nearly impossible to choose, but I finally couldn't resist this charming little book The Faster I Walk The Smaller I Am by Kjersti A. Skomsvold, translated from Norwegian by Kerri A. Pierce (Dalkey Archive Press, First Paperback Edition, 2013) - so far it's delightful.

Our trip wasn't meant to be especially literary, though we did end up attending a student poetry reading (greatly admiring the emerging poets for the passion with which they read their work as well as the grittily subversive cold-war themed decor of the bar in which they read) and spending a morning at The Morgan Library and Museum. The library building is itself stunning and ornate, as are the volumes it houses - a vast collection of all kinds of books of literary or historic merit, most with exquisite bindings and/or illustrations:

Travel feeds the spirit and the creative soul - we've all returned tired but thrilled, energized by the different places we've experienced and the new ideas they've inspired. I'm looking forward to bringing you reviews of a few new titles I'm particularly excited about as well as new conversations with authors and writers. How are you finding your own transition from summer to fall, and how does it affect your reading or creative life?

Happy reading, writing, and adventuring!


  1. Your trip sounded fantastic, a wonderful farewell to summer and hello to learning again.

    I am unemployed, so time means little to me right now. I would love to be looking forward to studying again, I miss learning.

    1. Thanks, Alice. I know just what you mean about the time - perhaps an under-recognized side effect of not working (and one of the reasons I first started blogging). Kids are the ones back at school - I miss learning as well :D.

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