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.
If you went to a slumber party as a teenager, odds are good that sometime during the night, you gathered around a ouija board to scare the (pajama) pants off each other. Also known as a spirit board or talking board, the ouija was introduced in 1891 in a toy shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dubbed ‘Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board,’ it promised to answer questions ‘about the past, present, and future with marvelous accuracy.’ It had been ‘proven’ to work at the US Patent Office (patent number A63F9/181) and sold for just $1.50. Now you can buy a ‘classic’ cardboard ouija on Amazon for about $20 — or treat yourself to a handmade wooden board from a crafter on Etsy. Smithsonian magazine delved into the history of spirit boards, movies like 1973’s The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity (2009) pivot around a ouija board, and Sylvia Plath wrote a poem about them. (We also love the novel The Harrowing that tells the tale of a genuinely creepy Thanksgiving fueled by a ouija board.) Want to live vicariously through bolder, braver souls? The Indiana State University Folklore Archives pulled together accounts of spooky experiences with the ouija board, including steps from one Miss Stephanie B. Martin on how to get started and what NOT to do.
This time of year, is there anything more Romantic than a properly haunted house? The Washington Post explores why we think Victorian houses look so haunted, and Dwell examines why the literary trope of the ‘bad house’ is surging in the wake of the pandemic.
Sorta related: The 20 Most Haunted Places in the World. Take an international tour of castles, historic hotels, and mysterious islands.
Last week, when we were in Madrid, we ran into a huge crowd waiting outside a theater to see a premiere of Glass Onion, the follow-up to the movie Knives Out. Around the corner, we discovered a red carpet set-up surrounded by throngs of cameras and lit with flattering lights. We did not, however, see Daniel Craig or Janelle Monáe. This post from Tom+Lorenzo will have to do.
Pop quiz: How Much Do You Know About How Halloween Is Celebrated Around the World? (I got 8.)
These candles from UK’s Wailing Dip Candles are spectacular.
The Locavore asks: What Makes a PotLuck Tick? ‘[T]here is no greater shame than your contribution being ignored. One potluck participant I spoke to still remembers the agony of watching her chowmein go untouched on a table full of dahi vadas, imli chutney, chole, and puris. “It was not badly made, it was just the wrong dish for that menu,” she says, a touch defensively.’
Such a good title: Who Knew Agatha Christie Was Totally Incredible? OK, Everybody, Except Me.
Do you agree with this list of ‘new classics’?
One of the all-American things we miss in Europe is a classic diner. My perfect order? A cheeseburger with a side salad (orange French dressing) and a bottomless cup of coffee with lemon meringue pie for dessert. This piece from The Awl isn’t new, but A Field Guide to the True American Diner rings true.
Four words: Ryan Gosling Halloween Album. ‘With songs like Werewolf Heart, My Body’s a Zombie for You, and Flowers Grow Out of My Grave, this is most definitely a Halloween spin. It’s also shockingly good.’
In each mini-podcast episode, we discuss two books at the top of our TBR, then share a fun book- or travel-related distraction. Get all the episodes and books galore here.
In this episode, we get excited about two new books: Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld and The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy by Moiya McTier. Then Dave talks about a website that provides ‘emotional spoilers’ for movies and TV. [transcript]
The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy by Moiya McTier
Visit the website doesthedogdie.com to check up on movies and TV you might want to watch.
Top image courtesy of Holly Ward/Unsplash.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.