Armchair Travels With Books I Have Loved

Winter Weather

Edgar Allen Poe Statue, Boston, MA January 27, 2015

It’s Tuesday night, January 27, 2015, and it’s still snowing in the Boston area.

There’s a traffic ban in many Massachusetts counties.  The South Shore and the Cape have been slammed – homes knocked off their foundation, frozen raging sea water flooding streets, massive power outages.  There are 700+ plows out in Boston, removing  23.3″ (and counting) of white matter. And there’s more coming at the end of the week, apparently.

Some will escape the harsh vicissitudes of our New England winter by plane, but some of us will journey in our imaginations only, aided by a good book.



Seamus at Newtonville Books, Newton Centre

I wish Marianne liked to read more.  I’m not sure why she doesn’t, although I know that it is hard for her to get a “just right” book at her reading level.  There’s also the issue of concentration and short-term memory white-outs.

Reading is, however, one of MY favorite (and least-expensive) escapes. It’s one that is taken from the comfort of my coziest chair (the blue one) with a cup of just-the-way-I-like-it tea and my trusty dog Seamus curled up as close to me as he can get.  By book, I can travel far for one hour, and I can go home without a backwards glance if I have a change of mind.

I also like lists.  So here’s one of the books I’ve read recently that I most highly recommend for the purposes of teleportation.  I only include books I’ve read within the last year (in parentheses, I list the setting so you can choose where you travel).  If you want to see my reviews, you can check out my Shelfari bookshelf (see Joanne M).


-Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood (pre-WW2 Berlin)

-Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Iceland)

-Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (Norway)

-Two Old Women by Velma Wallis (Alaska)

-The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien (Dublin, Ireland)

-Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Iowa)

-The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra (Benares, India)

-Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Pacific Crest Trail, CA)

-An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (Beirut, Lebanon)


-Following Atticus by Tom Ryan (the White Mountains of New Hampshire)


-The Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore (Boston, MA, in the Revolutionary-War era)

-Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson (England)

-The City of Djinns by William Dalrymple (Delhi, India)

IMG_2975I am the queen of the inter-library loan system (books, movies, audio- and e-books), but I also like to support my local bookstore. For me, that means a trip to Newtonville Books. Wheelchair-accessible; friendly, knowledgeable staff; stimulating author events; great paperback selection for adults, teens and middle schoolers. And they keep dog biscuits for my dog Seamus (open door policy for on-leash hounds). What’s not to love here?

Looking for more ideas to create your own reading lists?  Sites like The GuardianIndie Bound (for new books), and NPR’s Best Books of 2014 can provide good ideas.

Do you have some titles that evoke a particular place for you?  If you send them to me, I can create a shared reading list for those stationary travel times.  And if you live in New England, I hope you weather this storm in safety and comfort, with a good book in hand.