Marissa and I are very excited to get back on the road with the Digital Bookmobile in 2022. In preparation for this return to travel, we’ve been making a list of places we want to visit like crazy. Here is my top 10 list of literary destinations to visit across the US.
10. Kansas City Public Library (Missouri) – Not to sound basic, but I’d love to take a picture with their parking garage. Now, this isn’t a normal, boring parking garage. Their garage looks like a giant bookshelf with 25 feet tall spines highlighting titles like To Kill a Mockingbird, Invisible Man, and The Lord of the Rings.
9. Rowan Oak (Mississippi) – Home of William Faulkner, author of The Sound and the Fury, this home stands as he restored it in the 1930s. Faulkner’s works employed many literary devices making them captivating (and at times challenging) reads. Visiting his home is a wonderful chance to see what exactly was inspiring the writer as he weaved complex tales of life and tragedy.
8. Hotel Monteleone (Louisiana) – Marissa and I definitely make great food a central part to our travel. The Hotel Monteleone houses the Carousel Bar and Lounge, “The Classic New Orleans Hotel Bar.” Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Truman Capote have all been said to have stayed here, or enjoyed drinks at the bar. What a great way to enjoy local music, cuisine, and cocktails, all while also connecting to literary history!
7. Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (Florida) – Home of the prolific American writer Ernest Hemingway, this Key West destination has so many unique points of interest. The Old Man and the Sea was the first “classic” I ever read growing up, and since then I’ve felt a strange kinship whenever Hemingway comes up. I also always find myself wanting to visit historic homes, either to see that living history or to gain the perspective of the long-gone owner. If all this — and the beauty of Key West — weren’t enough, the grounds are home to Hemingway’s feline great-grandchildren: a mysterious breed of six-toed cats.
6. Orchard House (Massachusetts) – The home of Louisa May Alcott, and where she set Little Women, is now a public historic site. I know — shocker — I’ve got another historic home on my list, but this house looks like a well-rounded experience, whether you’re a fan of Little Women, a lover of living history, or just looking for a way to spend an afternoon. Alcott was not afraid to fight for social justice, and during her time she was involved in women’s suffrage, feminism, abolition, and education reform. Today, this legacy is still upheld in Orchard House’s educational programming.
5. The Emily Dickinson Museum (Massachusetts) – While I’m not much of one for poetry, two of my favorite authors are the poets on this list. Emily Dickinson’s work is unique and unlike so much of the poetry taught. She uses dashes and random capitalization, quirky imagery and word choice to blend together poems that speak to me in such a distinct way. Aside from her poetry, I find Dickinson’s personal life fascinating as well. She was a recluse in body but an adventurer in her correspondences. She was a botanist in her own space. And of course, she was deeply private, even swearing her sister to a pact that upon Emily’s death, she burned her cache of personal letters. While the museum is currently closed for major restoration, it’s set to reopen in Spring of 2022!
4. Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden (Massachusetts) – Looking at my list at this point, I’m seeing that I’m going to be pretty busy once we get to Massachusetts. There’s just a whole host of things to do in the state, including the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. The garden was opened in 2002 and features over 30 bronze statues. There is also the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss museum on the property, featuring four rooms, focused on Seuss’ life, starting with his childhood in Springfield, MA.
3. Poe Museum (Virginia) – The museum dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe was opened in 1922 only a few blocks from Poe’s first home in the Shockoe Bottom District. The museum is host to manuscripts, letters, and personal belongings of America’s Shakespeare, Poe. I’m also excited to visit The Raven Room – a gallery of rejected illustrations created for The Raven. Poe’s poetry has always spoken to me, with his forlorn phrases and lovesick lines.
2. The Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum (Alabama) – I promise this is the last historic house on the list… This is the only museum dedicated to the lives of American authors F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. While the couple had several homes across the globe, this one remains near Zelda’s childhood home and is dedicated to celebrating the life and works of the couple. The lower level of the home houses the museum, while the upstairs is split into two separate apartments that can be rented out via Airbnb. Not only do you get a feel of their lives in the museum, you can even stay there!
1. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (Massachusetts) – Created by Eric Carle, this one-of-a-kind museum celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from all over the world. This museum sits at the top of my list because so many of my foundational memories growing up are from being with my mom, in the library or cozy at home with our owned or borrowed picture books, exploring the world of reading together. My love of reading and art was formed with the illustrations pressed between those well-loved pages, and I cannot wait to visit this museum.
Well, that’s the list! Those are my top 10 literary destinations in the US for 2022. Marissa and I are excited to return to the road and to see so many amazing people while getting to talk about books and Libby! Let us know if you’ve been to any of these spots, or plan to visit them after reading my list. You can reach Marissa and I on Instagram, @digitalbookmobile.