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Three of the Best Books from Poland

By Audrey Golden. Feb 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History, Literary travel

The twentieth century was a complicated and often tragic one for Poland. The years leading up to Polish independence and the Second Republic were characterized by uprisings against the partitioning powers surrounding the region, and that independence was short-lived. During World War II, Poland was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, and many of the most notorious concentration camps were located within Poland’s borders. Once the war came to an end, Communist Poland, within the Soviet sphere of influence, became a repressive state. In the decades that followed, Polish citizens waged acts of resistance against various regime policies, culminating in some ways with the Solidarity movement in the early 1980s. Yet despite—or perhaps due to—its tumultuous political past, Poland has produced some of the most notable writers of the modern period. Are you interested in learning more about Poland and its writers of imaginative literature? We have some suggestions for you.

     
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Visiting Thomas Wolfe’s Old Kentucky Home in Asheville, NC

By Audrey Golden. Feb 15, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Literary travel

Thomas Wolfe lived a very brief life. He was born in 1900 and lived only until 1938, dying of tuberculosis in his family’s stately home in Asheville, North Carolina. Although Wolfe was only 37 years old at the time of his death, he produced some of the greatest American modernist novels, including Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life (1929). In that novel, Thomas Wolfe celebrated his “Old Kentucky Home”—the house in Asheville where he was raised. If you’re interested in learning more about the writer, we recommend taking a trip to Asheville and touring the Wolfe family home. But before you go, don’t forget to read (or re-read, as the case may be) Look Homeward, Angel so that you can be sure to recognize the house that Wolfe painstakingly depicted in his novel. 

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Costa Rica

By Audrey Golden. Feb 11, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literary travel

Buying used, rare, and antiquarian books in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose can be quite a challenge, but not because of a dearth of bookstores. Rather, unlike many cities in various parts of the world packed that are packed with bookshops, San Jose streets don’t have numbers that allow visitors unfamiliar with the city’s directional methods to locate with ease their intended destinations. Instead, directions are developed almost entirely on landmarks. As such, rather than receiving a specific address for a bookstore, you’ll get directions based on distance to or from a nearby restaurant, church, or coffee shop. For example, if you’d like to find your way to the bookstore Librería Expo 10, these are the directions you’ll need to take with you: travel 225 meters to the east of the “Biblical Clinic.” Or, for instance, if you’re hoping to browse the book selection at Librería El Ahorro, you’ll need to go 200 meters to the south of the church “La Merced.” As you might imagine, it can take a little while to grow accustomed to such directions. But once you get acclimated, there are many rare and antiquarian bookstores to discover.

     
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Seven Famous Literary Cafés

By Adrienne Rivera. Feb 4, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literary travel

The idea of the writer in a café is so prominent it has become almost cliché. Depicted in books and movies for decades, it's likely something you have even seen for yourself: young men and women working diligently on their laptops in the local coffee shop. Next time you find yourself irritated by the writer hogging the power outlet for hours while your cell phone dies, consider the fact that these writers are part of a time-honored literary tradition. Businesses all over the world offer up stories of their famous patrons as a means to draw in new customers. These places have become a part of literary history in their own right. If the idea of sitting in the same cafépotentially even in the same spotas your favorite writers did when they wrote the books taking pride of place on your shelves, then the following destinations need to be added to your list of essential locations to visit.

     
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Best Books on Canada

By Audrey Golden. Feb 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, Literary travel

In many ways, writing a short article listing the best books on Canada is an impossible task. The nation is a particularly diverse one filled with prolific First Nations indigenous writers, novelists who are descendants of European settlers, and immigrant authors from Southern and West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Europe, and other parts of the world. In short, we can’t imagine any kind of singular classification of Canadian literature. We can, however, offer you some of our more recent favorites that make up at least one list of the best books on this country.

     
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Saving Langston Hughes' Home

By Adrienne Rivera. Feb 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, American Literature, Literary travel

The slow and ever-increasing gentrification of New York neighborhoods isn't breaking news to anyone. Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Chinatown are full of newly renovated apartments and upscale restaurants, and those are just a few examples. Yet the transformation of these neighborhoods is a cultural and emotional loss to the generations of people who have called them home. In the wake of these changes, they are faced with the prospect of being displaced due to increasing costs. In some cases, even city landmarks aren't safe.

     
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Reimagining Detroit: The Fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides

By Audrey Golden. Jan 27, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, Literature, Literary travel

Since when has Detroit been an important setting for works of fiction? Sure, if you look to cinema, you might be able to name a number of movies set in Detroit that emphasize characteristics of the city, such as Alex Proyas’s The Crow (1994) or Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile (2002). But in all honesty, Detroit really wasn’t seen by most readers as a productive literary space until Jeffrey Eugenides depicted the city in new and interesting ways for readers. Detroit, it turns out, is more than just Motown when it comes to artistic production. In both The Virgin Suicides (1993) and Middlesex (2002), Eugenides portrays sides of Detroit that are at once full of nostalgia while also being sites of sadness and great change.

     
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Iowa City as a UNESCO City of Literature

By Audrey Golden. Jan 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Did you know that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has a “Creative Cities Network,” and did you know that only one city in the United States has been honored as a “City of Literature”? In short, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network has seven different fields through which it honors sites and cities across the globe, including for crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, music, and media arts. The only place in the United States that has been recognized for its literary significance is Iowa City, IA, home to the University of Iowa and the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Want to know more about Iowa City’s literary status? Keep reading, and we’ll discuss the reasons that this place was selected as the sole UNESCO City of Literature in the states. 

     
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Best Books on Finland

By Audrey Golden. Jan 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Of the literature from all the Nordic countries, Finland may be the region that English-language readers tend to know the least about. To be sure, most readers in the U.S. have encountered (or at least have heard about) the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle series and Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Even Icelandic Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness gained popularity here in the 1950s and 1960s, with first editions of his 1934 novel Independent People now highly collectible. And don’t get us started on the global fame of Danish fiction writers such as Hans Christian Andersen and Isak Dinesen. But what about writers and novels from Finland? We have a couple of recommendations to get you started.

     
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Four of the Best Books from Argentina

By Audrey Golden. Jan 6, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Are you thinking about traveling to Argentina in the near future? Or perhaps you’re considering a trip to Buenos Aires through literature? Argentina is a socially, culturally, and geographically varied country, with a world-famous wine region, the literary capital city of Buenos Aires, and part of the archipelago known as Tierra del Fuego. In addition to its scenic splendor, the city of Buenos Aires is well-known for the world-famous writers it produced in the twentieth century. From novelists and short-story writers associated with the journal Sur, such as Adolfo Bioy Casares, Jorge Luis Borges, and Silvina Ocampo to expatriate novelists and poets like Julio Cortázar, Argentina produced some of the most significant writers of the last one-hundred years. Here are a couple titles we highly recommend.

     
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