Skip to Content

From Tucson to Boston: My travel plans for 2021

When the Digital Bookmobile hit the road back in February, everything seemed business as usual – flights and hotels were booked, we knew what libraries and schools we’d get to visit, and Marissa and I had made our lists of fun and off-the-beaten-path activities to do in our downtime while traveling. Cut to the global pandemic, and you can almost hear the screeching halt that our plans came to.

It’s now November, and we’ve reached what would have been the last day of the tour. These end of the year blog posts are usually where Marissa and I share how many places we’ve visited and people we’ve seen, but this year looks a little different since we’ve been staying safe at home. Instead of bemoaning all the things we didn’t get to do, Marissa and I wanted to share our top 3 travel plans we’re carrying over into 2021.

Make cosmic observations at Kitt Peak National Observatory
Perched atop Kitt Peak in the Quinlan Mountains, the Kitt Peak National Observatory houses the largest and most diverse collection of astronomical equipment in the world. The observatory has something for everyone- day or night. If you’d like the history of Kitt Peak Observatory and the invention of the telescope, come during the day for this tour. If you want a peek into the cosmos, arrive at sunset to observe the magic of space. Being an all-around space nerd, I had a full day planned to tour the observatory and then stay at night to put my eye to the sky. I can’t wait to return to Tucson and cross this off my travel bucket-list!

Experience a New England domestic time capsule at the Gibson House Museum
Situated in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the Gibson House Museum was once the home to three generations of Gibson family and staff between 1859-1954. The museum is “a time capsule of domestic life from the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.” With both family and friends in Boston, I’ve spent many summers working my way through cultural attractions, and yet, I always have something new I’m dying to see! I love seeing history through vignettes, like historic homes, to really gain the perspective of what life was like during different points in American culture and history.

Attend dinner and a show at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse is a unique experience- the tavern hosts live Shakespearian theatre, with hand-crafted period costumes, stunning choreography, and plenty of food and drink. The theatre started in May of 1984 with a one week run of As You Like It, which sparked the dream we see realized today. Plays rotate monthly and are performed by The Atlanta Shakespeare Company. With so much to do in Atlanta, it’s nice to have a place for dinner that doubles as another activity. I’m a lover of theatre, and I find that the best way to experience Shakespeare is with a troupe that focuses on his plays. Once we’re back in Atlanta, this is bound to be a great way to end an evening!

5 travel memoirs that will take you across the United States while staying safe at home

November 1st usually signifies that the end of the Digital Bookmobile tour is near. After ten months out on the road, I begin counting down the days until I can sleep in my own bed and snuggle my cats during the holiday season. After cancelling our tour in March, I have spent the last ten months feeling road sick instead, and now, at a time I’m usually happy to be returning home, my desire to travel with the Digital Bookmobile is at an all-time high.

To quench my thirst for travel (or perhaps make it worse), I’m spending November living vicariously through these authors that wrote memoirs about their experiences traveling across America. If the travel bug is also buzzing annoyingly in your ear, check out these five books from your library’s digital collection:


The Road Headed West by Leon McCarron
Terrified of the prospect of a life spent behind a desk, without challenge or excitement, Leon takes off to cross America on an overloaded bicycle packed with everything but common sense.

Over five months and 6000 miles, he cycled from New York to Seattle and then on to the Mexican border, facing tornados, swollen river crossings, wild roaming buffalo and one hungry black bear along the way. But he also met kind strangers who offered their food, wisdom, hospitality and even the occasional local history lesson, and learned what happens when you take a chance and follow the scent of adventure.

Citizen U.S.A by Alexandra Pelosi
In the HBO(r) documentary tentatively titled Citizen U.S.A., acclaimed filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi sets out on a road trip across America to attend naturalization ceremonies in all fifty states to meet brand-new citizens and find out why they chose America as their home. What she discovers is that America welcomes them all – the disabled, the cancer patients, LGBTQIA+, Obama- haters, Christian missionaries, Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis, Buddhist monks, scientists with Ph.D.s (trying to find the cure for all the diseases that are plaguing us), tech giants in Silicon Valley, movie directors, race car drivers, and even a wrestler with his own action figure!

Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel
A memoir of one young man’s coming of age on a journey across America—told through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and inclinations he meets along the way.

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, one where everyone he met would be his guide.

Strays by Britt Collins
Homeless, alcoholic, and depressed, Michael King lives in a UPS loading bay on the wrong side of Portland, Oregon. One rainy night, he stumbles upon a hurt, starving, scruffy cat and takes her in. Nursing her back to health, he names her Tabor. When winter comes, they travel from Oregon to the beaches of California to the high plains of Montana, surviving blizzards and bears, angry steers and rainstorms. Along the way, people are drawn to the spirited, beautiful cat and moved to help Michael.

Tabor comforts Michael when he’s down, giving him someone to love and care for, inspiring him to get sober and come to terms with his past family traumas and grief over the death of his partner. But when Michael takes Tabor to a vet in Montana, he discovers that she has an identification chip and an owner who has never given up hope of finding her. Michael makes the difficult choice to return to Portland to reunite Tabor with her owner and learn to create a new purpose in his life after Tabor.

Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure himself, he set out on a voyage of rediscovery of the American identity, accompanied by a distinguished French poodle named Charley and riding in a three-quarter-ton pickup truck named Rocinante.

Travels with Charley in Search of America is an intimate look at one of America’s most beloved writers in the later years of his life—a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. Written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South—which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand—Travels with Charley in Search of America is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade.

Get inspired with fall themed ebooks from your library

What’s not to love about autumn? It’s the perfect season to indulge in delicious food, explore new places, decorate the house, and learn something new. As you sip on your highly anticipated pumpkin spiced beverage, tap into the Libby app to discover your library’s selection of fall titles. Libby has a little something for everyone this season.
Autumn is a great time to travel, both for the cooler weather and the spectacular views that fall foliage brings. It can be a challenge to find the perfect place to enjoy one of nature’s most exciting spectacles, but don’t forget to utilize your library’s digital collection of travel titles while you research your next getaway. For travelers that fancy themselves a spook or two, there are also plenty of travel guides of the haunted variety, too!

Fall titles for travelers:
Colors of Fall Road Trip Guide by Jerry and Marcy Monkman
Best Autumn Trips by Lonely Planet
Autumn Rambles of New England by Michael and Mark Tougias
Haunted Places by Dennis William Hauck

Kids have a lot of questions this time of year. Why are the leaves changing? When did we first celebrate Thanksgiving? Why do squirrels bury their acorns? The real question is, who can resist a bedtime story and a learning opportunity all wrapped into one? Whether your child wants to know why the trees shed their leaves, what the animals are up to as they prepare for winter, or about the history of harvest-time celebrations, Libby and your library have you covered.

Fall titles for curious kiddos:
Summer Green to Autumn Gold by Mia Posada
Busy Animals by Lisa Bullard
Hello, World! How Do Apples Grow? By Jill Mcdonald
We Gather Together by Wendy Pfeffer and Linda Bleck

We’re all about to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but who can complain when you are surrounded by loved ones? Whether you are looking for a scary cupcake recipe for your Halloween party or a delicious soup to enjoy on a chilly evening, Libby has a selection of cookbooks to fit every home chef’s need.

Fall titles for cooks:
The Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookbook by Stephanie Pedersen
The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso
Ghoulish Goodies by Sharon Bowers
Recipes to Make Thanksgiving More Amazing by Ida Smith

Tis the season to DIY. Look no further than your library’s digital collection for a wide array of fall-themed projects! From DIY Halloween costumes to trendy autumn-inspired home décor, crafters are sure to find more than one project to keep them entertained.

Fall titles for crafters:
Pumpkins and Party Themes: 50 DIY Designs to Bring Your Halloween Extravaganza to Life by Roxanne Rhoads
How to Carve Freakishly Cook Pumpkins by Sarah L. Schuette
Just Treats, No Tricks: Bewitching Quilts and More to Celebrate Autumn by Betsy Chutchain
Duct Tape Costumes by Carolyn Bernhardt

Three podcast episodes to listen to during Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week! While diving into one of the many titles that landed on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books of the last decade is a great way to spend your free time this week, it’s also important to explore why the book community comes together every year to show support for easy access to information. Whether you are curious about the history behind book banning or want to explore how graphic novels fit into the world of banned books, listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new. In honor of Banned Books Week, give these three podcast episodes a listen:

  1. The Story Behind Ep. 126: Banned Books
    On this episode of The Story Behind, podcast host Emily Prokop takes listeners on a journey dating all the way back to 2010 BC detailing the origin of banned books. While the episode is only 12 minutes from start to finish, Emily was able to pack plenty of interesting information, and even a scene from “Parks and Recreation,” into the bite-sized episode.
  2. Part-Time Genius: Why Were These Banned?
    Already know the history behind Banned Books Week, but want to hear more about why certain books have been challenged or banned? On this episode of Part-Time Genius, hosts Will and Mango cover many of the stories of banned books from the mystery behind the “Wicked Bible” to why Where’s Waldo is banned in prisons.
  3. Comics Are Great! Ep. 105: Banned Books
    Did you know that every year at least one graphic novel makes the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books List? On this episode of Comics Are Great!, listeners hear from cartoonist Jerzy Drozd and David Carter, librarian at the University of Michigan’s Comics and Video Game Archive, as they explore the complexities behind censorship in comics.

Looking for other great podcasts about reading? Check out the Professional Book Nerds podcast. Hosts Jill and Adam provide listeners with weekly book recommendations, chat about exciting new upcoming releases and interview an incredible selection of authors. The Professional Book Nerds podcast is available through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Happy Read an Ebook Day!

It’s that time of year again! I’m not referring to pumpkin spiced lattes and sweater weather (although I’m excited for those too). No, September 18th is the day literature lovers everywhere celebrate Read an Ebook Day.

Why should we celebrate a day dedicated to reading ebooks? Well, ebooks can be customized to each individual reader, they are great for the environment, and they can be downloaded anytime, anywhere. I could keep going, trust me, but I’ll practice some restraint.

Today, OverDrive employees have the opportunity to tidy their (work-from-home) desks an hour early and dive into a good book. Here are some of the great reads that our team have chosen to celebrate:

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Chosen by: Andi, Public Relations Specialist
An Anonymous Girl.jpg
Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new book about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma

Chosen by: Renee, Director of Marketing Services
Book of the Little Axe.jpg

Ambitious and masterfully-wrought, Lauren Francis-Sharma’s Book of the Little Axe is an incredible journey, spanning decades and oceans from Trinidad to the American West during the tumultuous days of warring colonial powers and westward expansion.

*This title was chosen as the Libraries Transform Book Pick. Readers at U.S public libraries can borrow Book of the Little Axe without wait lists or holds from September 14 – 28. Find out more about this year’s Library Transform Book Pick here.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Chosen by: Marissa, Digital Book Specialist