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Read to Travel

Hopefully you all aren’t tired of these random  vacation  posts yet! I have been talking about some of my favorite places to travel because of the books that are associated with them—or perhaps they have become some of my favorite books because of the places I have traveled…

Either way, I have talked about Hannibal, Missouri; Rome, Italy; and London, England so far. Today I’m talking about another location that I had planned to visit for years, Concord, Massachusetts.

3. Concord, Massachusetts, USA

When I first went to Concord, Massachusetts, it felt like a dream come true! At that point I had just graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in English (note: this means I had read a lot of American literature, and I do mean A LOT). I had studied so many wonderful American authors, and was surprised that so many authors that I loved lived and wrote in Concord—and all at the same time! In fact, one of my final papers for one class was all about how every English major that studied American literature had to eventually go and visit Concord. 

My absolute favorite place to visit in Concord (and the main reason why I wanted to travel there) was to visit the home of Louisa May Alcott. I loved visiting the place where Alcott wrote LITTLE WOMEN. And now whenever I reread anything about the March sisters, I can’t help but think of Orchard House in Concord. Such a beautiful setting that feels like Jo March must be around the corner writing everything all down. 

Orchard House

My second favorite place to visit in Concord is Walden Pond. Yup. That Walden Pond. The one made famous by Henry David Thoreau and his book WALDEN. I loved going and hiking around the pond (not just looking at the little replica cabin that mimics Thoreau’s simple living quarters, though that was fun too). But to actually get away from the parking lot and to just feel the peacefulness of nature—it was a happy moment. 

Another place that felt like I was stepping into a book was at the Ralph Waldo Emerson House. I studied so many Emerson essays (again, I was an English major) that I felt like going to his home was adding another layer to why Emerson wrote what he wrote. Then there is a trip to The Old Manse (where Emerson wrote his first draft of Nature and where Nathaniel Hawthorne—yes that Nathanial Hawthorne—lived). Plus there is also the idea that The Old Manse looks at the Old North Bridge, the bridge that was mentioned in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride." 

Man—who knew there was so much literature to “visit” when planning a vacation to Concord, Massachusetts? Well, my English professors did, which is why they inspired me to actually plan a trip out to the East Coast—just so I could take in all the settings of so many books I love. 

I have two more spots left—favorites vacations where I traveled to because of the books I have read. Yup, these two places were solely vacations planned based on beloved books. Keep reading to find out where they are!

Graphic Novels

It’s okay to have a favorite genre. It’s okay to be afraid to branch out. Though a rare event, I know how bitterly disappointing it is to try a new book and hate it. Such travesty I would not wish upon my worst enemy! (Kidding, I would, #slytherin). That said, I wouldn’t be doing due diligence as a librarian if I didn’t give you a helpful nudge out of your reading rut.  

May I suggest reading graphic novels?

“Graphic novels aren’t real books.”

“Those are just for kids, people should grow out of that.”

“What’s to read? They’re just pictures with blurbs”

“I’m not into superheroes or that Japanese stuff.”

If you had any of these thoughts, please allow me to meme at you for a moment.

2gzi50

Don’t be afraid. I’m here to guide you.

Graphic novels are certainly real books, with character development, rich plotlines, exploratory themes, symbols, morals – you name it, they’ve got it. They aren’t just for kids, though there are titles written for all audiences. And there’s plenty of graphic novels written in all styles and genres, not just superhero comics or “that Japanese stuff” - or as it’s actually called, manga. And sure, you’re allowed to read what you already know you love (that’s one of the joys of reading!), but you’re missing out if you wave off this versatile, engaging medium.

That’s right, graphic novels are a medium of storytelling, not a genre. Understanding this concept breaks many of the misconceptions I mentioned above. The visual component of graphic novels is part of the storytelling. And I don’t mean just the illustrations, but all its facets:  style, color, division of space on the page, panel shapes, panel borders, speech bubbles, captions, and more! Like other novelists write books in verse, prose, letters, journal entries, and more, graphic novel artists use visual elements to best present the story. It’s fascinating to see how different artists employ visual techniques in their story telling!

Just like traditional novels, graphic novels cross all genres. It’s one of the beauties of the medium! With that said, that can make it hard to know where to start. Here are some suggestions for you:

Genre: Memoir

I could really go on and on about graphic memoirs, but I’ll let you explore this past blog post. My first non-manga, non-superhero graphic novel was MAUS, a popular, compelling read that introduces many people to the world of graphic novels. If you want something with a lighter tone, anything by Lucy Knisley (author of RELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN) is an excellent choice. Her friendly, relatable tone and use of light, pastel color palette make her books, especially this one, a great choice for the shy newcomer.

11.2 MausMAUS I
by Art Spiegelman
(1980)

 

11.2 RelishRELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN
by Lucy Knisley
(2013)

 

Genre: Classics

11.2 MetamorphosisMETAMORPHOSIS
by Kafka 
(2003)

Kafka’s tales lend themselves so very well to visual interpretation. Acclaimed graphic artist Peter Kuper presents a kinetic illustrated adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Kuper's electric drawings--where American cartooning meets German expressionism--bring Kafka's prose to vivid life, reviving the original story's humor and poignancy in a way that will surprise and delight readers of Kafka and graphic novels alike.

 

Genre: Magical Realism

11.2 I Kill GiantsI KILL GIANTS
by Joe Kelly
(2008)

 

Genre: Mystery

11.2 Girl Over ParisGIRL OVER PARIS
by Kate Leth
(2016)

 

Hopefully I’ve shown you how graphic novels would be a great addition to your to-read list! If you’re interested in reading more, check out this blog post that provides some fun fact and additional reading about graphic novels. And if you want a personalized recommendation, please come see us at the Reference Desk!

 

 Haunting

Since it is Halloween today, I thought I would write a post about haunted places in Provo. It would be great to start with personal experiences of our reportedly haunted Academy building. Unfortunately, after working here for twenty years, the only unexplained phenomena I have experienced is that the batteries in any clock I hang in my office die really really fast.  I’ve even replaced the clock a few times and finally just gave up on it. But I don’t think that really counts as paranormal.

However, we have a number of wonderful books that discuss Utah hauntings and the one that caught my attention recently is RESTLESS SPIRITS: UTAH’S SMALL TOWN GHOSTS by Linda Dunning. She has a whole section on Provo Haunts. Below is a wonderful summary of those hauntings from her book:

“The Utes massacred at Table Point and in Rock Canyon were never buried. They were left to the wild animals and the whims of nature. Is it any wonder that both of these places are haunted by the dead?

Old Bishop was a leader to his people and a friend to the white man. His spirit walks the shore of the Provo River in winter.  Bill Hickman, notorious outlaw and lawman, told his tall tales about both of these events.

In Provo Canyon, the stories of Bridal Veil Falls are both old and new, according to the decade from which they came. Hermits, witches, healers, and old miners are said to have inhabited this canyon, and their stories might have been lost except for the tales told here.

Brigham Young University has its share of haunted buildings. Musical instruments play by themselves in the music department, and rumor has it that one of the museums is experiencing so much phenomena that a man was summoned to bless the place.

An old pioneer graveyard is buried under a building, which is, of course, “haunted.” The old Utah County jail has spirited criminals, and the Hotel Roberts, which was razed in 2004, had an atmosphere all its own. Even Geneva Steel, once the largest employer in the valley, was silent, still, and definitely haunted until it was abandoned in 2005.

Tell me that you aren’t intrigued by at least one of these quick teasers! This is a great little book and it’s available here at the Provo City Library. As I was reading through these creepy stories I discovered a previous book by the same author that she says describes “in depth” the hauntings of Maeser Elementary and the Brigham Young Academy building. Why did we not own this book? Well, we do now!

If you want to learn more about what is creepy in our community and state, check out these titles:

10.31 Restless SpiritsRESTLESS SPIRITS: UTAH’S SMALL TOWN GHOSTS
by Linda Dunning
(2010) 

A resurrection witnessed, skeletons unearthed from the cellar of a saloon, and a ghostly apparition searching for her lost child – these stories and more will chill your bones, curdle your blood, and make even the most confident skeptic believe in the supernatural!

 

10.31 Lost LandscapesLOST LANDSCAPES: UTAH’S GHOSTS, MYSTERIOUS CREATURES, AND ALIENS
by Linda Dunning
(2007) 

For young and old alike, this book will pique interest and raise questions to the mysteries lurking within Utah’s borders. Whether it be the unsolved riddles of places, people, puzzling objects, the legends that have been passed down through the generations, everyone will find something that will have them eagerly turning to the next page.

 

10.31 Haunted UtahHAUNTED UTAH: GHOSTS AND STRANGE PHENOMENA FROM THE BEEHIVE STATE
by Andy Weeks
(2012) 

This collection of stories includes the phantom hitchhiker of American Fork, Ogden’s elegant haunted hotel, activity at Salt Lake City’s This is the Place Heritage Park, ghost children at Mercer Cemetery, the white lady of Spring Canyon, and bizarre creatures, including Sasquatch, Utah Lake’s black-eyed monster, and the Moon Lake Monster.

 

10.31 Specters in DoorwaysSPECTERS IN DOORWAYS
by Linda Dunning
(2009)

Reveals the mysteries and miracles of haunted mansions and farm houses, ghostly hotels and public buildings, spirit-infested hospitals, churches and gathering places, eerie old schools, colleges and universities and finally, the phantoms of Utah’s many old mills and abandoned factories.

 

 Horror on the Silver Screen

Looking for a movie to send chills down your spine? While the horror genre has had some great films in recent history—from the Oscar-winning GET OUT, to the John Krasinski breakout, A QUIET PLACE—there have been many classic movies that have scared the pants off audiences. Here are some hits from yesteryear to get you in the mood for Halloween. 

10.26 The InnocentsTHE INNOCENTS
Directed by Jack Clayton
(1961)

Based on the American novel, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, this British adaptation combines everything you’d want in Victorian horror — haunted estates, women in distress, and creepy children. A woman becomes the governess to a young brother and sister who may be much more than they appear. Are the apparitions she sees real? In this film, you can never really trust what people say—or what they see. If you are a fan of modern gothic films like THE WOMAN IN BLACK or THE OTHERS, check out THE INNOCENTS. 

Fun Fact: The screenplay for this film was worked on by Truman Capote, who took a break from his true crime classic, IN COLD BLOOD, to finish the movie script. 

 

10.26 Abbott and CostelloABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
Directed by Charles Barton
(1948)

If you are looking for some good scares and good laughs, check out Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Made after the heyday of monster movies like DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and THE WOLFMAN, this movie manages to put all of them into one story. The “Avengers” of Universal horror films, the film manages one of the first “crossover” plotlines, pitting each monster against one another or our protagonists.  

Abbott and Costello both pull off one-liners with their usual skill, poking fun at the monsters while still allowing for some scary moments. The fear factor is helped by the fact that most of the creatures are played by their original actors—who are perfectly happy to howl, bite, and groan amid the jokes. My personal favorite is when Lon Chaney (the Wolfman) attempts to warn Costello over the phone about Dracula’s plot. Instead, Costello quickly becomes more and more irritated with Chaney’s “barking dog.” 

If you enjoy this film, be sure to check out other Abbott and Costello horror crossovers, such as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN. 

 

10.26 Cape FearCAPE FEAR
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
(1962)

This film was initially worked on by Alfred Hitchcock, before he passed it onto his colleague, J. Lee Thompson. One of the best thrillers of the 1950’s, it tells the story of how one ex-con terrorizes the family of the lawyer who sent him to prison. Robert Mitchum pits himself against the upright everyman, Gregory Peck—who was known for playing another famous lawyer in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  

Mitchum manages to play both cold, calculating villain and out-of-control maniac. It is his personality that truly makes the audience fear for the lawyer’s family. This film would be made again in 1991 by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro in the ex-con role. However, if you are interested in other horror films that showcase Robert Mitchum’s talent, I recommend the beautiful and horrifying THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

 

10.26 The HauntingTHE HAUNTING
Directed by Robert Wise
(1963)

Based on the 1959 book by Shirley Jackson, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, which is widely considered to be the scariest book ever written. Both the movie and its classic film adaptation tell the story of four people invited to investigate not a house that is “haunted,” but is rather “diseased,” with a mind of its own. We soon realize the disturbing effect it has on each person who stays there, including the poor, lonely Eleanor.  

This film came out just 4 years after the book’s initial publication and was directed by Robert Wise—who had just come off a successful adaptation of WEST SIDE STORY (and would later go on to direct THE SOUND OF MUSIC). Don’t let the director’s background in musicals fool you, this movie will certainly keep you up at night. This film truly takes to heart the old adage that what you don’t see is scarier than what you do. From great acting, to terrifying sound design, this movie will drag you down into the madness that has enveloped the people staying at Hill House.  

In addition to the 1963 film, The Haunting of Hill House has had plenty of adaptations. These include a recent Netflix adaptation, of the same name, and a 1999 film with Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Despite the star-studded cast, please do not subject yourself to this film.)

 

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