Tbilisi, Punctuation, Passport Photos, Vacation USSR-Style & More: Endnotes 28 April

Tbilisi, Punctuation, Passport Photos, Vacation USSR-Style & More: Endnotes 28 April

Friday, 28 April, 2023

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.


This pretty town is Tbilisi, the capital of the country of Georgia. It’s tucked between the Black and Caspian Seas, separating Russia in the north from Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in the south. It was a stop along the Silk Road, a series of ancient trade routes stretching from China to Africa. When you’ve got visitors, traders, and/or marauders crossing through your homeland, you need protection — hence the Narikala Fortress on the hilltop in the left of the photo. It dates back to the 4th century (!) and was used to rebuff invaders, including the Persians and the Ottomans. Treat yourself to this video tour of the fortress.

  • We are honored to be returning (virtually) to the Newburyport Literary Festival this weekend. We’ll be doing a Zoom version of our Strong Sense of Place show on Sunday, 30 April at 9:00 am Eastern. Our session is called Murder and Mayhem in the Canadian Archive: Amy Tector Returns to Ottawa. In our 1-hour discussion, we’ll go behind the scenes of historical archives and be joined by author Amy Tector to discuss her new novel Speak for the Dead. It’s a murder mystery set in Canada’s Dominion Archives that delves into military secrets, indigenous protests, and the heroine detective’s battles with grief and her desire to drink it away. We’ll also play a round of Two Truths and a Lie and recommend more stories set in archives. Learn more and register for the FREE festival right here.

  • Yes! Let’s nerd out about punctuation. ‘Creating a sentence by adding one word after another while ensuring that the message is clear and unambiguous is a bit like tightening the string of a bow: it is easy at first, but becomes more demanding with each passing moment.’

  • I cried my face off when Dame Hilary Mantel died last year. Her Wolf Hall trilogy has meant so much to me. And now, we learn that she was working on a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice told from the perspective of Mary. So now I weep again for the novel that might have been. Here’s an excerpt.

  • This is art:

  • Who knew?! The history of passport photos, from Atlas Obscura. ‘Deep into the 1930s, married American women were footnotes in their husband’s passports, listed simply as, Mr. John Doe and wife. Single women were entitled to their own passports, which they could use to travel alone, while married women could not use the document without a husband present. This practice continued, despite the efforts of women’s rights advocates, until 1937….’

  • We use them daily, but how much do you know about the history of keyboards?

  • These are some very beautiful and reasonably priced (about $100/night) Airbnbs — in Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, Budapest, Portland, Oregon, and more.

  • This is some very fancy hummus:


New Episode of The Library of Lost Time

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 books: Never Sleep by Fred Van Lente and The Wager: A Talk of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann. Then Mel shares tips for getting great poetry into your life. [transcript]


The tiger / He destroyed his cage / Yes. YES. / The Tiger is Out — Poem by Nael, age 6.

Top image courtesy of MehmetO/Shutterstock.

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Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got a roundup of memorable meals, new Edward Gorey exhibit, Q&A with Kelly Link, Syrian red tape, Prague book sculpture, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got the legacy of Juliet Capulet, 19th-century silhouette art, Istanbul spy movies, literary lunch, Belgium itinerary, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got 10 books set in Berlin, bright Catalan art, the return of Dracula Daily, California's superbloom, destination pizza, and more.

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