The Readers Roadtrip Day 9; The Last Full Day, A Bloggers Meet Up & The Last Supper

And it came and went so soon, the last full day in Washington and indeed in America. How has it all whizzed by so fast? Today I will be flying back to the UK, but let’s not think about that, let’s talk about yesterday which was a lovely day and started in the perfect way with a bookshop… 

Now, I have to admit I went to Politics & Prose last year and had a really bad experience. Everyone had raved and raved about it and I went in and witnessed the worst customer service from a man who coughed constantly in the fiction room and then was so rude so loudly to a customer on the phone. I couldn’t believe it. Neither could Thomas to the point he complained. So I was slightly horrified when that person was the first person I saw on arrival…  

But this time I have to say I enjoyed it way more. So much that I bought a couple of books without thinking, I might blog about it too over the next week or so. Maybe. All in all DC has done pretty well out of me as every bookshop has seen me part with cash, I might have problems with my luggage allowance later! Anyway we had a good wander, which was followed by a lovely lunch with Frances of NonSuchBook who is a blogger I have followed for ages and ages and ages.And she was so lovely! You should follow her blog if you don’t already.

We had a lovely lunch and also recorded a special Man Booker episode of The Readers which will go live in a week or so before the announcement. Frances has read all of them, which is partly my fault as I was going to read the longlist with her and had to not last minute to do some work for another prize (which I still can’t talk about) however she carried on with a wonderful group of bloggers and has a WoMan Booker Panel. We then spent ages in Thomas’ library talking about books, books, books…

For the last night in Washington I was a very lucky sausage as Thomas and his husband John took me for dinner in Doi Moi which did amazing food and amazing Pina Colada’s (which have been the drink of the holiday) and we had a wonderful night on the town. They have seriously been the hosts with the most and Thomas has been a joy to spend so much time with going around the country.  

I’m sad it’s almost over! So now it’s time to pack all these books and start heading home! It’s been such a brilliant booky break, my best bookish holiday ever.


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The Readers Roadtrip Day 8; Wandering Round Washington

Really today was a Reader Roadtrip as Thomas had to work and so I took myself off out for a day in Washington DC. As you might have guessed the first thing that was on my agenda, so I headed to Founding Farmers for my favourite of all things Eggs Benedict, which I could eat all day…

I could actually eat it twice or thrice a day if it came with leek hash browns like these did. Yum, yum, yum. Anyway after the food fest it was time for some serious sightseeing. First was the Washington Monument…

I had wanted to see the White House again close up after last year but the Chinese President was in town and this is as near as I could get…

I got a corking view all of the sights though from the monument… 

On both sides…

After all that swift sightseeing I headed to the one museum that everyone who has ever been has told me I should head to, The Holocaust Museum, which I have to say was one of the most incredible, moving, upsetting and important museums I have ever been too.

I am going to do a seperate post on this because I think that it is so incredible, horrifying and thought provoking. I just need to process my thoughts a little more. I came out needing to be very quiet and still and then really needing to cheer myself up, so guess where I went?!? 

Book shopping of course! In the space of an afternoon I hit Books for America, Second Story Books and Kramerbooks (pictured above) and made sure I bought one or two books in each, as any book lover would. After that it was time to meet Thomas and head back to his for a night of pizza, Pina Colada’s, telly and Lucy… Of course. 

An ideal day all in all. The days have suddenly whizzed by and there are less and less ahead of this trip. Weeps.


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The Readers Roadtrip Day 7; A Whole Lot of Road to Cover from Cleveland to Washington DC (With a Sprinkling of Bookshops En Route!)

I have had some funny nights sleep in my time but this America trip has given me the oddest. So admittedly I have slight jet lag and time displacement but honestly last night I woke up convinced I was being strangled. Proper weird stuff. It could just be I have caught Thomas’ sore throat but needless to say it freaked me out (as I my dream I was being strangled and the sensation carried on as I was waking. It took a couple of episodes of The Archers to relax me and send me back to sleep. So it’s fair to say I was fairly grumpy leaving Cleveland though surprise surprise an amazing breakfast in a market cafe helped, as did a visit to Horizontal Books before we left Cleveland proper. 

I had noticed on Twitter that it was Diverse Author Day and so with that in mind I managed to buy three titles I had never heard of before. The only problem was finding them. Horizontal Books does what it says on the tin, has all its books shelved horizontally, however they also put books standing up in front of them and completely out of sync with what was behind them. I struggled on though (ha) and came away with these titles… 

We then hit the road for hours and hours and hours, managing to finally record an episode of the podcast in the car as we’ve been talking far too much gossip and rude things up until now, before heading through Hagerstown where Thomas just slipped into the conversation that there was a second hand bookstore with over 10,000 books in it. Of course I demanded we go to Wonder Book pronto…

And it was pretty darn good.

I had to think of my luggage allowance though so was quite restrained. We then headed back to the car for another two hours and finally arrived in DC to the welcome of John and of course Lucy, who if ever a dog would make me want one its her. Seriously, look at her…

We then had grilled cheese, my first ever and well done Thomas it was pretty damned good before an early night and the best nights sleep I’ve had in a week or so. I have now planned a full day ahead in Washington, which even though I have just sorted out the books I have bought so far involves more bookshops. 

What do you think of my purchases so far, read any of them?


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The Readers Roadtrip Day 6; Petoskey Farewell, Ann Arbor, Detroit & Cleveland (And A Lot of Book Shops!)

Wednesday morning saw a final breakfast with the whole of the Booktopia Gang and then leave the wonders of Petoskey, which I realised I didn’t share any pictures of – so here is one of me in a Books on the Nightstand baseball hat on Lake Michigan!  

After a lovely breakfast and a lot of goodbyes (I was really sad to leave, frankly I need Booktopia every week) then we hit the road again, again. This time we were off to a book haven which every time we mentioned got a great response from all the book lovers we met… Ann Arbor, and it’s book stores of which we were told we would love. Well we both certainly fell in love with Literati, which will get its own post in due course… 

Where I spent a lot on one locally produced random book, which I am already a way through and love and will tell you more about as soon as I am back in the UK. Then  Thomas fell in love with Aunt Agatha’s mystery store, whilst I remainded a little more dubious.  

I did completely fall in love with Ann Arbor though and feel, with its chunky beareded men with glasses and its eleven (!?!?) bookshops is meant to by my hometown, at least in the USA anyway. All too soon we were back in the car and off to Detroit. 

Now here I should say I had a weird reason for wanting to see Detroit and that is that after hearing author Benjamin Markovits talk about the cities abandoned neighbourhood and history, which is all in his new book You Don’t Have To Live Like This, I was grimly intrigued. Turned out it also has one of the worlds to voted bookshops in an old warehouse so we had to go to John K Kings… 

This too will get its own post. It was quite a place. Detroit too was indeed a place and one that both saddens and haunts you as you drive through. One minute nice houses the next burnt out ones. One minute historic skyscrapers the next old empty smashed up ones with greets growing through them. Haunting. I now want to read lots and lots of books about it.

Finally we hit the road and headed to Cleveland where we were just in time to see one of its skyscrapers showing off terribly with a light display, not quite quick enough to catch it all though… 

We did stay in THE MOST AMAZING hotel though… 

It’s a former old shopping arcade where the shops have been turned into rooms, naturally I assumed/imagined mine was once a bookshop or book store room. Ha!


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The Readers Roadtrip Days 4 & 5; Booktopia Petoskey

There have been a couple of days of radio silence, this is because I have had the utter joy of attending Booktopiaover the past two and a bit days in Petoskey. It has been a whirl of fun, book chatter, book recommendations and book buying – especially in the case of Thomas which I am sure he will fill you in on via his blog soon!

Now if you’re wondering what on earth Booktopia is, I will describe it thus… Imagine around 100 booky people/addicts/nerds (nerds in a good way) two hosts and seven authors who take over a hotel and a local bookshop (and in some cases a whole town) for two days with lots of author discussion, chances to take literary tours, discuss books over lovely dinners – that pretty much sums it up. It was (because this was the last one, sorry if you’ve missed out) organised by two of my favourite people and podcast hosts Ann and Michael (who I hope I can also now call friends) from Books on the Nightstand, who crazily let Thomas and I not only visit but join them in panels too!

We were one of the first two sessions discussing our favourite books; Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Any Human Heart by William Boyd, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and The Professors House by Willa Cather. You will get reviews on them here soon but even better you’ll get to hear those chats on both our podcasts in the next month or so! Very exciting. We also got to visit some author events, record The Readers Live! and just hang out with some wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people.

There’s almost too many brilliant moments to highlight and bore you discussing for ages but two had to be firstly, being asked to sign copies my favourite book (Rebecca as if you need to be told) which was very surreal but lovely…

And also getting an amazing gift from and amazing woman, Karen Brown you are a star, who had our four favourite books made into prints by none other than Jane Mount who makes the amazing Ideal Bookshelves prints, how stunning and delightful is this?!? We were all unusually speechless and very moved.  

There were lots of other highlights with lots of wonderful people so instead of going on here are some pictures that sum up the whole two days… 

It has honestly been amazing, thank you to everyone who made Thomas and I feel so welcome and discussed books with us for hours! I think we need a Booktopia UK don’t we? I also need a big sleep. I’ve done three cities and five bookstores today so I’m quite tired, more on that tomorrow.


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The Readers Roadtrip Day 3; Canadian Roads, American Roads, Outlet Store & Gaylord

So I didn’t write about Day 3 on time as I had a slightly bad reaction to a burger last night. Plus to be honest most of day three was spent on the road. After a night in London Ontario, where excitingly we met the cheif librarian of Ottawa in the hotel lift, it was time to hit some serious road to get to Michigan. This compromised of driving an hour to the Canadian border, being interrogated before being allowed into the USA again and then hitting the road for two more hours to an outlet store to find me a new belt (long boring story that lead to a long boring walk around the most personality devoid outlet store I’ve ever been to! Then driving another two hours to Gaylord. Yes really, Gaylord. How could I not visit a place with that title?   

We headed there as I wanted to have my picture taken with a Gaylord sign, as mentally I’m about twelve, and also to break up the journey and eat at the Big Bear Restaurant (a Big Bear Restaurant in Gaylord was just too tempting on so many levels) and we found a quite friendly town.  

We also found a bookshop which rather amazingly was the first that Thomas and I had encountered on the trip.  

Thomas ended up doing some minor damage to his credit card. I saw a couple of books I liked the look of but with baggage allowance on my mind and so many bookshops to come I held my own. Though Saturn Books was seriously seriously tempting.  
I was strong. What I wasn’t so strong on was the chocolate shop. I bought a stash and Thomas bought me on of these famous dipped apples, which kept making me think of Snow White! 

Soon enough we hit the road again for a final hour to get to Petoskey, our hotel and our beds and we both so needed the nap. Petoskey is stunning and is where I have now bought books and seen lots of lovely Booktopians, friends and listeners of the podcast who have all given us a very warm welcome indeed. But more on that tomorrow… I’m exhausted from all the wonderful book chatter!


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The Readers Roadtrip Day 2; Birds Nests, Buffalo, Niagara & Canada

I quite like living on the edge and I have done that twice in the last twenty four hours. It started straight away with a change of plans as Thomas decided we would ditch Pittsburgh and head to Buffalo – as a punishment for my naughty behaviour the night before, ha not really. So we hit the road early straight away and headed to Buffalo. One thing was on my mind… My first American breakfast, we found a corker.   If you’re ever passing Bedford Pennsylvania then serious head to the Birds Nest Cafe, it was wonderful in both ambience…

And in choice, I went for the Farmers Daily, which was three egg omelette red peppers bacon and mushroom, plus some of the best buttered toast and fried potatoes I have ever eaten. Ever. I could have become a farmer just to have it daily. 

And they had a great selection homemade of cookies which Thomas and I definitely didn’t take 12 of each, oh no, definitely not.  

Okay so we did. We then drove for four hours to Buffalo, not sniggering at signposts on the way…

Our Buffalo aim was to find some shops (where I could get a belt and a baseball cap and man bag with bears on) and couldn’t so we had to park and eat some more. I had my first ever fried green tomatos, which were amazing… 

Followed by a ‘light bite’ which was anything but a light bite and in fact a ginormous pulled pork sandwich with Mac and Cheese which I adored. We then head to Niagara where on the outskirts Thomas introduced me to yet more food in the form of my very first Dairy Queen. I somehow managed to eat it all.  

Then, after a trip through customs we finally got to Niagara Falls where it decided to unless torrential rain just as we got our the car park blinding our view and getting us soaked.   

But once it passed… Wow. 

I stood on the edge and everything. The noise and the actual size just cannot be done justice to. Nor can the full force of it when you’re stood next to it. Even when you’re taking a selfie.  

I was mesmerised. And top tip the Canada side really is the better view because you really are on top of it.  

Look at those crazy America people on a massive metal ledge miles away.

Exactly see, you can’t even see them. Crazy. So a life long dream has been filled (which was amazing) my daily dream of amazing breakfasts has been reached and I have tried lots of new foods. No books though, yet. I’ve still a week to go, ha!


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