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read to travel

As far as my favorite literary vacation spots so far I have talked about Hannibal, Missouri and Rome, Italy. This next one has EVEN MORE literary references than the other two destinations (if you can believe it). I mean, how could it not!?! Today I am talking about London, England, number four on my countdown of six favorite literary vacations. 

4. London, England

Tower of London

The first time that I went to this city it was part of a college Literary Tour. And the fact that it was introduced as a major stop in literary history means that every time I go back I can’t help but think of all the great books that are set there. 

Seriously, this one city has totally spoiled me for literature. One of the first stops my friends and I made was to go to see some signs of SHERLOCK HOLMES around Baker Street. Granted, we didn’t find the famous sleuth (or Benedict Cumberbatch—sigh!), but we did enjoy looking at London from the “perspective” of Holmes and Watson. 

Also, while traipsing around London I happened to find the home of Charles Dickens. This literary mastermind set a lot of his novels in jolly old England—London in particular. And as I spent hours walking around (potentially getting a little lost once or twice…) I started getting hungry—not only for good spots to remind me of good books, but for actual food. “Please, sir, I want some more.” Thankfully, unlike OLIVER TWIST, I had plenty of options to choose from so I could keep wandering around town. 

One magical place to go is to Kensington Gardens. There—after quite a bit of meandering—we were able to find the PETER PAN statue. Because this is where James Barrie wrote and perhaps was inspired to write the famous play. And with this fun statue of Peter, of course there is an invitation to celebrate the imagination of this masterpiece that has had such an impact around the world—and I can’t help but imagine that Wendy, John, Michael, or Tinkerbell might appear beside Peter as I walked around the garden. 

Peter Pan

And, who can go to London without going to the Globe Theater—the replica of all things William Shakespeare—who may justifiably be considered the master of all things literary! While at the Globe we saw JULIUS CAESAR (which helped me love my literary journey in Rome that I talked about last time). We got the cheap tickets, so we had to stand for the entire play. And we were out in the elements so when it started to drizzle rain/slush on us…it was a little uncomfortable; however, it was an experience that I will never forget! I felt like I could be in the 1600s listening to the Bard. I don’t think my love for Shakespeare has ever been the same. 

Yowzer! London has so many literary greats! It is no wonder that this one city has hit my list of places I wanted to see and visit because of works I have read. And I haven’t even talked about Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Or HARRY POTTER—which has some scenes in London… Yeah, if you love reading, then you have to visit London on vacation. It is basically a must! 

Joella Reading a book in a bookshop on vacation 1

Keep reading to see what other vacations I thought were reading havens!

Tips for the Compulsive Audiobook Listener

Feel like you'll never make it through your to-read list? Audiobooks to the rescue! Along with last week's post, these are my best tips for audibook fans.

6. Remember Your People

This is more of a warning than a tip. Although I recommend listening constantly, please do not do so to the expense of the wonderful people in your life.  Stop listening when others join you in a room or use headphones so they don’t have to listen to what you are listening to.  Just remember to be courteous and present…even if you are trying to sate your hunger for literature!

7. Tuesdays are for Searching

As you find audiobooks to listen to on Libby or the Overdrive App, you will undoubtedly have to place things on hold and then wait for your turn. The hold lists are seldom as long as they look, so hopefully you aren’t waiting too long, but as an insider’s tip:  New titles are usually added on Tuesday afternoons.  I like to search for new releases on Tuesday afternoon or evening  and hopefully get on hold for things before they anyone else knows they are even available.

8. Keep “Always Availables” in Your Back Pocket

Even with a carefully curated hold list, there may be times when everything you are SUPER excited to listen to is on hold and you need something to listen to NOW. This is where the Always Available (https://utahsonlinelibrary.overdrive.com/utahsonlinelibrary-provo/content/collection/29749) titles come in handy.  These selected audiobooks can be checked out any time and they are great for those days when you need something now.

9. Don’t forget Books on CD

As the popularity of downloadable audiobooks increases, we are noticing that our Book on CD collection is not being used quite as heavily. I will sometimes grab a Book on CD to listen to in my car, where I still have a CD player, while listening to something else on my phone when I’m in my home or while walking in the park.  CDs aren’t as convenient as they once were, but they are still a format that can come in handy and may be available faster than the downloadable version.

10. Try Something New

Finally, I like to encourage people to listen to genres they may not have enjoyed while reading. I can sometimes get bogged down in a thick nonfiction title, but as an audiobook, it seems to go much faster and I tend to enjoy them a whole lot more.  So, don’t be afraid to download something a little different from your normal fare.  You may just find a whole new category of books to enjoy!

While your goal may not be to listen to over 100 books each year, using audiobooks to fit reading into your busy schedule is a great strategy.  Happy listening!!

Discovery Kits are a curated selection of themed books, toys, and activity ideas appropriate for kids ages 3-5. Each Discovery Kit checks out for three weeks so you have plenty of time to do all the Discovery Kit things included. Curious about Discovery Kits? Here are some of the nitty-gritty details:

discovery 01 1

To make your own Discovery Kit reservation, go here.

Tips for the Compulsive Audiobook Listener

It’s the beginning of September and I just finished my 90th book since January 1st. That is a lot of books, if I do say so myself.  I’m asked fairly frequently how I manage to get through so many books and the answer is that I listen to them.  I read physical books occasionally, but I admit to being an almost exclusive audiobook listener.  (Which it totally legitimate!  Don’t let anyone lit-shame you into thinking listening isn’t as valid as reading!  It is!!)

Below is a list of a few things I do to facilitate my voracious appetite for audiobooks!

1. Use Overdrive/Libby

If you don’t already, you should really get to know the Libby app which lets you download audiobooks for free from your library!  It works a lot like Audible, so if you are familiar with that, Libby will be easy (and free)!  Learn more here.

2. Give Up Bingeing on TV

There was a time in my life when I watched a lot of television, and I loved it. However, over the past few years I’ve given up binge watching dramas and sitcoms to find time to listen to more books.  I have always been one of those crazy multitaskers and so switching my entertainment distraction from television to audiobooks wasn’t that hard and I have found I really like the trade-off.

3. Embracing the Chipmunks

With either the Libby or the Overdrive apps you can speed up the readers! This is really great because if you double-time that speed a 10 hour audiobook only takes 5 hours to actually listen to, which is great.  There are a few drawbacks in that some readers sound like chipmunks when sped up that much and if you are particularly fond of a narrator you can miss out on their delightful cadence or amazing accents.  So, sometimes I slow it down and just revel the experience and sometimes I speed it up and get to move on to the next book that much faster.  And you don’t have to go double time.  You can just speed it up a little, say 1.25 times the speed and you still save a good chunk of time.

4. Don’t Get Caught Unprepared

I always keep two audiobooks downloaded to my phone. Nothing is worse than finishing one and not being connected to wifi to start listening to the next one!  Hopefully your phone has enough memory to allow you to do this but the serious book listener should definitely consider getting a phone with enough memory to keep appropriately well-stocked with audiobooks.

5. Listen Constantly

This is probably an obvious tip. I listen to audiobooks while driving, while cooking, while cleaning, while feeding my newborn, while unwinding at the end of the day and playing mindless puzzle games on my phone.  I listen whenever I can.  It’s surprising how fast these little chunks of time add up to a whole book!

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