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.
The red-spired building above is the Ringebu Stave Church in Norway, built around 1220. It’s a stave church and an example of a distinctively Norwegian architectural style of the Middle Ages. Stave churches took advantage of the Norwegian gift for ship-building, transforming timber logs into works of art that combined Norse and Christian symbols: Doors, roofs, and walls were adorned with dragons, serpents, crosses, and intricate geometric patterns. According to StaveChurch.com, there were about 1000 stave churches in Norway in 1349 — and at least 2000 before the Reformation in 1537. Today, just 28 survive. The Urnes Stave Church is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Borgund Stave Church is ready for its close-up in a heavy metal music video. For more on these iconic structures, here’s a short documentary about their history and legacy. I’m currently reading The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting, a historical novel about a village, its stave church, a plucky heroine, and ‘dark forces.’
A thoughtful answer to a burning question: Should You Read the Same Book Twice? ‘A former girlfriend of mine used to pride herself on reading The Great Gatsby at the start of every summer. Surely, she already knew the plot and the characters, and I doubt she was reading to identify better its key themes or even commit to memory its key passages. Rather, she must have simply just enjoyed doing this: an annual tradition of reading a beloved book, first discovered years ago.’
Fun with paper: a massive archive of designs and instructions for paper airplanes.
The new production from American Ballet Theater is Like Water for Chocolate, based on the glorious novel by Laura Esquivel. Here’s the story on how it all came to be. ‘Before getting started on his adaptation, Wheeldon set off to Mexico for Esquivel’s blessing. It was very important to me going into this to know that I not only had Laura’s support, but also her input, Wheeldon says… Laura is exactly the kind of magical, love-filled being that you would imagine would have written this tale.’
The answer to this is a resounding yes; see Jane Austen and Hilary Mantel: Is Deep Third an Actual POV? ‘Deep third-person POV is a strange little hybrid. A mix of limited third and first person, it plunges readers directly into the lived experience of the point-of-view character, using the third-person he/she pronouns while writing with the immediacy and intimacy of first person.’
From Electric Lit: 8 Stories Within Stories — and my picks for 14 Compelling Novels That Weave Stories Within Stories.
Trust me, you want to learn about the mad beach party of 1923 — and then maybe read the novel Villa America by Liza Klaussmann. Gerald and Sarah Murphy ‘convinced their circle of friends to summer with them in Cap d’Antibes at a time when the fashionable only wintered there… Their pals included a young Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, Stravinsky, Jean Cocteau, and a great number of artists and writers of the Lost Generation who fell into the couple’s orbit.’
This is a very helpful guide to gender identity terms from NPR.
Rick Steves’ old travel journals and postcards are adorable. Click through to see a bunch of treasures.
If it was 50 years ago today that the class of 1973 walked across the stage...then 50 years ago tomorrow, I walked onto an airplane to Europe with my best buddy (and future co-author), Gene Openshaw — rail passes and $3 a day tucked in our moneybelts. pic.twitter.com/218stKx6P2— Rick Steves (@RickSteves) June 17, 2023
Where to start with: Kazuo Ishiguro. ‘The Japanese-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the most critically acclaimed authors writing in English today… Earlier this year, he picked up Bafta and Oscar nominations for his adapted screenplay of Living, starring Bill Nighy. David Sexton suggests some good places to start for those who haven’t yet dipped in to his work.’
Quiz: Wild Words from the Animal Kingdom. I got 13/15.
29 Great American Diners. ‘A diner is a mood. It’s the slosh of sharp, black coffee poured from a steel tank behind the counter into a heavy white mug. It’s the miniature packets of butter and strawberry jelly waiting for their foil to be peeled back. It’s the waitstaff who’ve been scribbling orders on blue-striped checks for 40 years and know how to balance eight plates of pancakes on one arm. It’s the assurance that your eggs will always come out just the way you like them… The promise of feeling like a regular no matter how many times you’ve actually visited.’
Meet Isabelle Eberhardt, a hash-smoking, cross-dressing woman traveling the Sahara in the early 1900s.
How to Travel with Friends—Without Becoming Enemies. ‘…like most things that look easy, the group trip has complex inner workings. It involves issues no one likes to talk about even on a good day, like money and whether you truly want to spend a week in Aspen with your friend’s new boyfriend who works in finance and plays pickleball.’
LitHub has opinions about 50 of the Greatest Summer Novels of All Time. I spy many of my favorites on the list!
Are you excited about Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City? Go behind the scenes of making the movie, and enjoy CrimeReads’ review. ‘The film is a retro-futuristic treat, a creative throwback extraterrestrial invasion movie, festooned with the hallmarks of a 50s sci-fi B-feature. And yet, it’s something else entirely.’
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: Return to Valetto by Dominic Smith and National Dish: Around the World in Search of Food, History, and the Meaning of Home by Anya von Bremzen. Then Dave shares a delightful poem about wonder by Reina del Cid. [transcript]
Return to Valetto by Dominic Smith.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith.
Strong Sense of Place podcast: Museums: A Gathering of Muses, A Clutch of Curators.
National Dish: Around the World in Search of Food, History, and the Meaning of Home by Anya von Bremzen.
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von Bremzen.
Strong Sense of Place podcast: New Orleans: Pass a Good Time.
Top image courtesy of Anastasiya Dalenka/Unsplash.
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