Global Picnics, Travel Trivia, SF/F Last Lines, Mongolia & More: Endnotes 25 September

Global Picnics, Travel Trivia, SF/F Last Lines, Mongolia & More: Endnotes 25 September

Friday, 25 September, 2020

Every Friday, we celebrate the weekend — and all the reading and relaxing and daydreaming time ahead — with Melissa's favorite book- and travel-related links of the week. Why work when you can read fun stuff?!

This post is part of our Endnotes series.


That incredible landscape up there is Altai Tavan Bogd National Park in western Mongolia. The park is nestled on the borders with China and Russia, and its archeological treasures — petroglyphs, burial mounds, and Kazakh cemeteries — are UNESCO cultural heritage sites. There’s also stunning natural beauty to stop you in your tracks: five of the country’s highest mountain peaks, alpine lakes, rushing rivers, and vast, deep, velvety sky. {more}

  • If you only click on one link this week, please make it this one! Since 1948 (!), the BBC has sponsored a lecture series to honor Sir John Reith, the BBC’s first Director-General. It features great minds talking about science, literature, history, politics — you know, tiny topics that no one cares about. I recently listened to 2017 lectures by Hilary Mantel, and they are life-affirming. On the surface, she addresses historical fact vs. fiction, the gift/obligations of the historical novelist, and factual vs. emotional truths. But her talks end up being about life and mourning and memory and how we understand ourselves and others. It’s a beautiful, amazing lecture series, and it’s all available online for free. You can download the mp3s and listen at your leisure! Get the lecture and more info here. (Pssst… even if you’re not a fan of the Wolf Hall novels, I encourage you to listen. I had tears shimmering in my eyes while also laughing out loud; it’s really good stuff.)

  • And if you’re only going to click on two links, make this the other one! This is a gorgeously written, very moving meditation on why travel should be ‘considered an essential human activity.’ There are so many quotes I wanted to share with you. I chose this one: ‘I think hope lies in the very nature of travel. Travel entails wishful thinking. It demands a leap of faith, and of imagination, to board a plane for some faraway land, hoping, wishing, for a taste of the ineffable. Travel is one of the few activities we engage in not knowing the outcome, and reveling in that uncertainty.’ (Socially-distanced air-hug of gratitude to reader Pam G. for sharing this with us.)

  • Smithsonian Magazine answers the question: How do people picnic around the globe? (I found this extremely relevant because we’ve been picnicking a lot since we can’t/won’t eat inside restaurants right now.)

  • I love that one of the most successful horror authors of all-time is just as goofy as the rest of us when there’s a cat around. Enjoy photos of Stephen King with cats.

author stephen king holding a cat

  • Travel trivia true or false quiz! (I got 11/17 correct.)

  • Is this the best bookselling job in the world?!

  • Prague is mostly known for its stunning combo of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau architecture, but it’s a hot spot for modern architecture, too.

  • We heard from so many of you that you enjoyed the novels by Antoine Laurain that we recommended in the Paris episode of our podcast. You will be excited to know his new book The Readers’ Room was released this week, and it’s a crime novel set in a Parisian publishing house. BRB; going to fall face-first into this book.

  • Go soaring over the Alps on the back of this eagle:

  • Cool event alert: For all our Poe fans out there! The International Edgar Allan Poe Festival is online this year, 3-4 October. The vast majority of events are free, and it looks like a wicked amount of fun. Highlights include a reading of The Masque of the Red Death by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, a radio drama of The Raven and other favorites by players from the National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre, a discussion of cryptology in the first half of the 19th century, and tons more. Get free tickets and the schedule.

  • Bookish podcast of the week: Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly podcast featuring in-depth interviews with authors. In this episode, he talks to Amy Shearn about her new book Unseen City, a novel about a lonely Brooklyn librarian, a widower returning to his roots, and a ghost that haunts an old house.

  • Travel podcast of the week: It always feels good to check in with Rick Steves. In this episode, he talks to travel writer Paul Theroux, takes us to Bulgaria in our imaginations, and shares some lovely haiku.


Wishing you something that makes you laugh.

Top image courtesy of Cozies Tone/Unsplash.

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