Book lovers unite! From museums dedicated to imaginary settings to bookshops located off the beaten track and the bars your favourite authors happily got soused at, planning a literary-themed road trip is far easier than you may think.
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Jackson’s Island from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn takes its readers on a trip up and down the mighty Mississippi and through the boondocks making up the American Midwest. The book features both real and imaginary locations, but Twain is said to have drawn his inspiration from the town of Hannibal when he created the world of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in the make-believe town of St Petersburg, Missouri. Fans will well remember one of the most important moments in the story, in which Huck exclaims that they’re after him and his pal. It’s set on Jackson’s Island, which you can visit if you take a trip to Hannibal.
Jonesboro, Georgia, and Gone with the Wind
You don’t need a time machine to travel back to the days when Scarlett O’Hara ruled supreme in Clayton County, Georgia. Now dubbed the official home of the book by Margaret Mitchell, you’ll find elements from the author’s childhood here, as well as those from her visits to her grandparents’ Jonesboro plantation. The actual home no longer exists, and Gone with the Wind’s Tara was 100% made-up, but you can take a gander at the estate that inspired Scarlett’s beloved homestead. Called the Stately Oaks Plantation, it dates all the way back to 1839.
Liberal, Kansas, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Although no one’s 100% certain where the beloved tale by L. Frank Baum is set in Kansas, the town of Liberal decided long ago to give Dorothy a home with them. You’ll find an imitation farmhouse here along with the obligatory yellow brick road, and John Carlin, once a governor of the state, went so far as to dub it Dorothy Gale’s official residence! It’s situated alongside a 5 000 sq. ft exhibition called Land of Oz where you will be able to find all of your favourite characters. Dorothy herself leads visitors through the museum.
Collingswood, New Jersey, and The Silver Linings Playbook
Mathew Quick’s story of Pat moving home after spending four years in a mental asylum and eventually finding true love, total healing, and his own happy ending is set in the author’s hometown of Collingswood. Quick’s personal experience as a Philadelphia Eagles fan in Collingswood served as inspiration for some parts of the book, and although the film is set in Philadelphia, The Silver Linings Playbook novel hits a chord with those who hail from the suburbs of The Garden State.
Taking this kind of tour brings bookworms that much closer to the authors and the books they’ve loved, and it can certainly add an additional dimension of pleasure to reading. Seeing spaces you’ve imagined for so long in real life can be a wonderful experience!