Tag Archives: The Readers Roadtrip

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 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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The Readers Roadtrip Day 1; Willa Cather & Losing It…

So the good news is that despite my fear of flying I had a pretty brilliant flight from the UK to the USA. Okay so I didn’t get any reading done but as the child next to me screamed if they had earphones on and screamed if they didn’t have their DVDs on, I had to watch movies as trying to read with Peppa Pig or Chuggington in my ears wasn’t working. Seriously, anyone up for grown up only flights? I would pay extra! 

So flight was smooth, as was customs and I came out to find Thomas’ happy smiley face waiting for me at the airport rating and ready to go to stop one… Willa Cather’s childhood home. And so we did combing the road side with our eyes for the sign and a place to park to get a much needed selfie…  

Look how happy we are there? I’m slightly delerious post flight and feeling like it’s 9pm when it’s 4pm but we were on form chattering away in the car about all sorts with some stunning views of mountains, forests and lakes…  

You can tell there’s a but coming can’t you? Well I needed a wee and as I got out the car I felt something was missing… My passport. Sure enough after we ransacked my bags, Thomas’ bags and practically took the car apart we realised it was missing. Either I’d dropped it at a service station (did I mention my belt broke on the plane so my trousers were rather prone to slipping and losing items) or Willa Cather’s childhood back yard, both of which were an hour and a half back down the road. I felt like my world had fallen in. 

An hour and a half later, and several frantic calls to every grocery in Virginia none of which were the one we’d been in, we left the shop in dire straights. I was feeling sick and thinking of all the paper work. We decided to try Willow Shade when we passed it but as it was pitch black and I was sure I’d had it in the store I had no hope. Well blow me down, after five minutes of searching by the torches on our phone WE FOUND IT. The elation. 

Though by this time we were three hours behind schedule and Thomas has motion sickness so now we’re checked into a random hotel in Cumberland, not the one we had booked in Morgantown, and I am feeling like the worst worst worst roadtrip companion ever. Fingers crossed today will be as ace as the first half of today… And just get better. Blimey!

UPDATE – It is 4am here and I’ve woken up for the second time as our random Ramada hotel backs on to the (fairly regular) freight train line. Choo Choo. You couldn’t make it up. I’m informed by my former Readers host this whole story makes it an official roadtrip. So that’s something. Oh. Here’s another train. Must. Sleep. More. Must. 

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I’m Off to America… The Readers Roadtrip is Finally Here!

It feels like I have been talking about, and indeed plotting, my trip to America for ages and ages when in actual fact it was only back in June that it was all discussed and booked. If you have been under a rock or somehow missed the excitement today, as this goes live, I will be taking off or flying away on my journey over to Washington DC where I will be meeting my lovely friend, blogger and co-host of The Readers podcast Thomas of Hogglestock, formly My Porch. We are then immediately off on a six day road trip recording the podcast as we go and falling into every bookshop we pass (and Dairy Queen or Mexican restaurant) as we head to Booktopia in Petoskey on Lake Michigan.

America

If you are wondering what Booktopia is, well, it is a two day bookfest of listeners of Books on the Nightstand (and in some cases The Readers too) organised by its hosts Ann and Michael (who I adore) and we will be on some panels with Ann and Michael talking about our favourite books as well as recording a special live episode of The Readers with an audience. Then hitting the road and many more bookshops on the way back to DC where I will then have a few days of mooching around – and seeing baby panda’s fingers crossed.

Now shamefully last year when I went to Booktopia Asheville, followed by Washington DC to stay with Thomas and then onto New York I seemed to tweet and facebook it and not blog about it – which was both foolish and bonkers. Not this time. This time I am going to do a series of posts over the next week and a half as Thomas and I make our booky journey around some of North America, and popping into Canada, so you can join us, sort of. It’s something a bit different but hopefully you will enjoy it! (If not book reviews will resume on September 29th!)

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