Literary Tourism: A Top Ten (Bucket) List

Not surprisingly, I’ve done a lot of what is (now) often termed literary tourism. I’ve visited the Emily Dickinson Museum and Edith Wharton’s home (The Mount). I’ve seen Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House and, my personal favorite, The House of Seven Gables Museum. I’ve even been to Walden Pond.

(Please note all of those are within 100 miles of each other and where I grew up. My school referred to them as field trips. So the list looks much more impressive than it really is.)

I’ve visited Oscar Wilde’s childhood home, walked around James Joyce’s Dublin, and visited W. B. Yeats’ house. I’ve toured Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm, visited Mordecai Richler’s grave, browsed through Powell’s Books, and perused (is there a more pretentious word?) the Astrid Lindgren Museum. I’ve stayed in The Stanley Hotel and I’ve always wanted to find the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine (I haven’t. Yet). And in a somewhat creepy move, I drove past Kerouac’s old house in Lakewood (located a mere 6 miles from my own home). I’ve seen the Sunrise Amphitheater (featured prominently in The Stand) and watched Clive Cussler walk around Golden, Colorado. I was too shy to say hello – he’s really tall. The most depressing (or reassuring?) part of how much I’ve seen is how much more there is out there. I could spent the rest of my life traveling to literary places and never manage to visit everywhere I wanted. This week’s top ten list (as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish): literary bucket list. I’m not fond of the term, there is something obnoxious about an idiom using another idiom as a referent, but I’m creating one nonetheless. I’m limiting mine to travel destinations – because, to be honest, my literary bucket list is absurd – maybe this will help narrow down which one I’ll visit next.



Bonus: Hunt down Hunter Thompson’s shrine.

10. Nietzsche-Haus, Sils-Maria, Switzerland. Seen here. Everyone has a Nietzsche phase, right?

09. H.P. Lovecraft’s House, Providence, Rhode Island Home. Although I used to live in Rhode Island (although I lived in Jamestown, it’s not exactly a big state), I never made it to Lovecraft’s house.

08. Tour Wallander’s Sweden. I like Henning Mankell and I really enjoy the BBC Series (and its location).

07. Vienna, Austria. Because John Irving. And this surprises no one.

06. Scottish Highlands. Thank you, Outlander. Is anyone else excited for the series?

05. Bronte Parsonage Museum, West Yorkshire, England. See #7.

04. Prelinger Library in San Francisco, CA. This library is a cataloger’s dream (or nightmare, depending on said cataloger’s flexibility – I am mentally flexible).

03. Brattle Book Shop, Boston, MA. I grew up in the area, how did I miss this?

02. The British Library. I’ll just tack visiting the Bodleian Library to this one as well. I might as well see both if I’m in the area.

01. Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, CA. It looks absolutely amazing, even if I’m not Miller’s biggest fan (I do like him, but he has some very serious followers).

What’s on your literary bucket list?

(Image from rare article written on Henry Miller by HST, see full article on Totally Gonzo)

33 thoughts on “Literary Tourism: A Top Ten (Bucket) List

    1. Yes! I’ve never been. But I figure if we do it, we might as well go full stop and start in New England. Phillips Exeter Academy is only about 15 minutes from my hometown. We can start there.


  1. The high point of my list is visiting the Library of Alexandria. Well, I’d like a time machine so I could see the original before it was destroyed, but the modern incarnation looks pretty cool too. Of course, that’s only slightly more likely to happen than the time travel version.


    1. You’ve been to Egypt? Awesome. I’ve never wanted to go except to see the Library of Alexandria. Unfortunately, neither time machine nor vacation is likely to get me there (anytime soon, but probably ever).


    1. I’ve been to Bangor several times, but never seen King’s house. It felt creepy because they still live there (maybe if I’m ever there in winter I’ll drive, but I typically avoid Maine in winter). If they ever turn it into a museum I would go.

      And thanks, there are some perks to growing up where a lot authors used to live.


  2. What a great list. For some reason I’m not into literary tourism. I now live in Edinburgh, a very literary town, but haven’t really done much to explore the literary side of things. In fact, i roll my eyes every time i see tourist snapping photos outside of a cafe where JK Rowling is siad to have worked.


    1. Most of my literary tourism is accidental or inadvertent. I saw most of those places because of school and some I stumbled upon. Some have been purposeful, like Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm.

      I’ve always wanted to visit Edinburgh, but I can assure you that I would not be stopping by that cafe. I have no issue with Harry Potter, I just am not that fascinated by the thought of where JK Rowling once worked.


  3. I would love to see the Bodleian Library too. And Big Sur. So many beautiful places in the world. And so many beautiful literary places in the world! I haven’t ever been out of the country, which is depressing. Someday. The Scottish Highlands should be first. lol


    1. My obsession with the Bodleian started with A Discovery of Witches. Somehow I should be embarrassed by that (and the Scottish Highlands-Outlander connection), but I’m not. Realistically I know if I go to Scotland all the men won’t be good looking, but whatever. I *might* go to Bug Sur this summer, if I don’t end up going to North Carolina (with family -mother/brother/etc…).


      1. I’m in the same boat. I had heard of the Bodleian but having it described to me like it was in A Discovery made me obsessed. And yes, it’s kind of like firemen. You expect them all to be hot but they aren’t. Much like highlanders I’m sure, but there has to be SOME good looking ones. Although if I explain that to my fiance as the point of our vacation to Scotland it might go over well. lol

        Well, if you do make it there I’ll be on the lookout for pictures. 🙂


  4. I am impressed with the literary touring you have already done! I can only say I’ve been to see L.M.Montgomery’s grave in Cavendish, PEI (um, many times). That was a big deal when I was younger.

    Oh! I just thought of another one. After reading The Birth House by Ami McKay, I drove out to her house (and to where the story is set, in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia.


    1. Like I said, it’s not very impressive when viewed in context, but it was interesting. They’re all very close together and I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should of at the time. Now I travel more, but do less educational things when I’m there – usually food related.


  5. What a great list! I usually only travel with people who could care less about literature so my expeditions are usually like this “Oh look, that’s where Oscar Wilde lived!” Hub: Who?! “This is the House of the Seven Gables!” Hub: The what? “Pull over so I can take a picture of this Mark Twain log cabin replica” Hub: Seriously?

    I think I need to take a solo trip around the world. 😉


    1. I travel with people similar to your husband. On my last trip to Ireland, my James Joyce’s Dublin was followed by a tour of Croke Park Stadium and Oscar Wilde’s house was followed by a pub crawl (and not the literary one they offer – it was still fun though).

      I KNOW I need one.


  6. OMG Vienna is so beautiful!! And HA, I’ve seen the Oxford library!! And when I saw it I was like “I would sell my soul to study in that library”. It is incredible 🙂 🙂 Worth seeing, definitely 🙂


    1. I’ll edit and link to your’s as well!

      We initially lived just over the NH/MA state line (in Manchester). One of the few interesting things about being born there is I was assigned a really interesting social security number (a lot of 0’s and 1’s).


  7. Tricky one for me, as the places I want to go (Tokyo etc) I want to go for other reasons than books. And to be honest, the places I want to visit that I’ve read about include the restaurant at the end of the universe and the Batcave…

    I’d love to Batcave it up.


    1. The list’s prompt is limiting. The places I most want to visit didn’t make the list, because I don’t want to go for bookish reasons (New Zealand, Galapagos Islands, Norway). That being said, I still really want to visit Big Sur.

      I can’t think of any fictional places I’d want to visit, which is odd. There must be somewhere…(and not the Batcave (too creepy), except for giant, fake dinosaur)


    1. Some of it was by accident and in general I am more of a nature traveler (geology for the win), but it’s still fun. Who doesn’t want to see a house with seven gables? My house only have four.


  8. Ohhh you have been in a lot of interesting literary places already!!
    I’m in for the Highlands, Rory. I want to go there and never come back, actually 😉


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