I can think of a lot of things I would do if I won a HUGE lottery. Buy a new house in the country and a second house in Colorado. Pay off our debt. Go shopping. Build a competitive swimming complex in Central Ohio. Travel.
Specifically literary travel — to the places I’ve fallen in love with in fiction. No, not magical places (all the money in the world won’t get me to Naria or Hogwarts), but real places I fallen in love with while reading.
Wanna know where I would go? Well, here’s my list:
Jane Austen’s England
Visiting Austen’s England isn’t possible, at least not until time travel is a reality. But I would love a chance to spend a couple of weeks leisurely (this pretty much means I would have to leave the family at home) touring all things Jane, though Hampshire and the other small, bucolic counties nearby. The area is filled with estates, manors, villages, churches, and other landmarks related to the books and many screen adaptations of Austen’s works. And there seem to be plenty of museums dedicated to Austen and her characters.
Ireland for Bloomsday (James Joyce)
I wrote my required major author senior thesis on Joyce, something that I was forced into by schedules, but I look on as divine intervention. I pushed myself as a reader more than I ever realized was possible thanks to schedule conflicts (my other author choice was Austen, but the other class I needed to graduate was at the same time – and only offered once a year).
Bloomsday is June 16th, a day which commemorates and follows Leopold Bloom’s travels around Dublin in Joyce’s Ulysses. It’s said to be a day filled with readings and dramatizations from the novel, pub crawls, and plenty of Irish beer and whiskey.
A-yup. This is would be an all encompassing trip: it seems like many of my favorite authors set their novels in this state (and live there themselves). John Irving, Elizabeth Strout, Stephen King, Richard Russo (and, although not literature, really, there’s my favorite crimesolver, Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote!) — they all seem to like the isolating nature of this northern coastal state. Although many of their novels are set in fictional towns (Derry anyone?), I would still LOVE to drive up the road apiece and spend time (maybe a whole summer?) and attempt to discover the secrets to this Yankee-ist of states.
Stockholm, Sweden and surround areas
I read quite a few thrillers by Norwegian writers, especially Swedish writers. I would love a chance to actually see the streets in Stockholm featured in many novels, as well as some of the surrounding towns that are routinely mentioned. AND, while I’m in Sweden, I would probably try to discover a little about where my ancestors come from. And I’ve always wanted to try lutfisk and akvavit.
Since I’m nearby, I might as well hit Norway and the Netherlands as well. Norwegian thrillers and all that.
New York City
I’ve been to NYC many, many times, and I’ve done some literary stuff there. But there is just soo much literature set in New York — there’s always more to see and visit and enjoy. Lots of bookstore, as well.
My latest NYC literary tourist dream would be to walk in Lillian’s shoes from Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. One of my favorite books of 2017 and my top suggestion right now for book clubs, Lillian’s walk around Manhattan would be an exhausting, wonderful trek and the perfect way to see all of this metropolis island’s wonders, both big and small.
So much has been written about Africa’s splendor and beauty (and its political unrest). I would love travel back and see it in the early 20th century, before it was spoiled by outsiders from around the world. After reading Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun and then watching Out of Africa, Kenya calls, and even today it looks splendid. Since I’m there, I would probably hit the Eastern Coast down to South Africa, with a detour to Madagascar.
If it weren’t for the political craziness, I would probably head inland to DR Congo from Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and other parts of Central Africa from Taylor Steven’s Vanessa Michael Munroe series.
Cartagena is never names in Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, but it’s pretty much understood that it’s the setting. Beyond that, it’s a beautiful city on the Caribbean, so really, what could be bad about it? There is a bit of civil unrest right now, but nothing bad enough to dissuade travel (at least as far as I can tell — I could be wrong.
There are so many more locales I would visit. Scotland, Wales, Australia, Japan, China — just to name a few. And so many more that would be wonderful under a different regime, or in another time.
And don’t get me started on magical travel.
But these are at the top of my literary list (at this moment). When I when the lottery, I’ll keep you all apprised on my literary adventures.