By Carmen Giraudy, Kobo Content Operations Manager
There are a multitude of bookstore bucket lists available out there, describing the stores serious book lovers should visit for their next great read. Grand bookstores, like El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires (a wonderful old opera house with a great cafe on the front stage); the quaint Shakespeare and Company in Paris, (a bookshop/library/house to aspiring authors and artists). The Old Library at Trinity College Dublin with its many archways of old and gorgeous books. Wondrous places that would entice any reader.
This list, however, is for those who want to step outside the bookstore, and into the book’s world.
Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold (Hobbiton,Matamata, New Zealand)
Do you fancy a warm comfy home, with plenty of friends, good food, good tales, and a peaceful life? So did Bilbo Baggins, and while Bilbo set off for a grand adventure, you can stay in and experience the friendliness of the Shire. The whole set of Hobbiton is available for visitors to wander around and peek through the windows of friendly and welcoming hobbit holes. And if you sign up for the banquet tour, not only do you get to visit the Shire, but you get to enjoy a feast fit for any Hobbit. There are ample tours of the Hobbiton movie set available, and most provide travel, so no walking quests required!
A Wizarding Trip to London
Arriving at King’s Cross Station, be sure to get your photo at the entrance to Platform 9/34 (easily spotted by the trolley part-way through the wall). You can also stop in at the Potter shop next to it, and pick up any school related items, wands, clothing, sweets, or whatever else you may need.
Moving along southward is Charing Cross Road, which hosts not only a plethora of muggle specialty shops and second hand bookshops, but is also the location of the Leaky Cauldron. May treasures and quirky finds can be found here, and lots of little nooks and crannies for photos. In the east end you can stop by Leadenhall market, for a fabulously colourful and bright covered market that stood in for Diagon Alley in the films. Cheese shops, bookstore, tavern, clothing, gifts and crafts; the market is filled with treasures on its cobblestone streets and little alleyways.
For lodgings, just across from Victoria Station is the Georgian House Hotel and its two sets of rooms, the Wizard’s Chamber, and the Enchanted Chamber. Each room is hidden behind a bookcase (found only by witches or wizards, of course) and features four-poster-beds, candle-lit and portrait-lined hallways, cauldrons, books, and other curious artefacts.
Visit the lush Green Gables of Prince Edward Island.
Anne of Green Gables is a classic staple of Canadian literature, and Prince Edward Island itself doesn’t disappoint. In Cavendish (Prince Edward Island National Park), you can visit the Green Gables Heritage Place. There are several museums as well where you can learn more about Anne, author L.M. Montgomery, and immerse yourself into the world of Anne. Nature trails such as Balsam Hollow and the Haunted Woods are accessible to visitors, to really step into the shoes of orphan Anne.
For more, you can head over to Avonlea Village, a recreation of village life for Anne, including the Avonlea General Store for souvenirs.
There is Nothing like Staying at Home, for Real Comfort.
If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you are very much in luck as there are many places around Bath and Hampshire, England, to immerse yourself in the periodic element of Austen’s works. You can visit the village of Lacock, which will be recognizable as Meryton in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and visit the Bath Assembly rooms. You can take a stroll through the town, imagining yourself as characters right out of Persuasion, and have a nice afternoon tea at the Regency Tea Room at The Jane Austen Centre. The staff are dressed in full regency regalia, making it quite easy to fancy yourself a guest of her times, stopping in for tea with Mr. Darcy or a ladies afternoon tea.
If you move along to Chawton, you can find the cottage where Austen lived and wrote, revised, and published many of her novels. It is now a museum, one of the most important literary sites in the world, and is filled with her personal effects. Her furniture and textiles and other belongings still fill the house, and it is easy to imagine her sitting at the table, writing away. Nearby, Chawton House (which belonged to her brother Edward) is now a library filled with early women’s writing.
All the World’s a Stage…
If Shakespeare is more your thing, you are in for a treat as there are many places around the UK to visit in relation to the Bard. In Stratford-upon-Avon is the house he was born in in 1564, a Tudor-style cottage that is furnished as it would have been in Shakespeare’s time. You can also visit his wife Anne Hathaway’s Tudor cottage, his eldest daughter’s residence, and his mother’s farm in Wilmcote, just outside of Stratford. Each can be toured and features period furnishings and decor, as well as exhibitions and a museum.
Finally, at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, you can stop and visit Shakespeare’s grave stone, penned with words from the very poet himself.
To get a sense of what it would have been like to enjoy his plays, head down to the south end of London to the Globe Theatre, which has been rebuilt as it was during Shakespeare’s time. You can take a tour to learn about the rich history of the globe and why it was built how it was, how it burned down, and how it was restored. You can even book tickets to see a play at the theatre, as the summer season runs from late April to the beginning of October.
You know my methods, Watson.
And here you can see and learn them as well. The house at 221 Baker St is set up as the Sherlock Holmes Museum, complete with doorman out front. Using Victorian furniture throughout, the house is set up as if Holmes and Watson had just stepped out for a case. Artifacts throughout the three levels will be recognizable to those who’ve read the stories, or seen the countless films and shows regarding this most famous detective pair. It’s also a neat look into what houses of the time looked like, right up to the lavatory in the attic. A gift shop at the ground floor has some cute Baker St regalia, along with multiple versions of the tales.
Where would a literary tour of your books take you? Have you been to any of the locations above? We’d love to hear what you think!