Marseille, Sparkly Books, Manet's Olympia, Vibey Novels & More: Endnotes 22 September

Marseille, Sparkly Books, Manet's Olympia, Vibey Novels & More: Endnotes 22 September

Friday, 22 September, 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.


That’s Marseille up top. It’s sort of the anti-Paris, combining French elan with the rough-and-tumble bustle of the old port (Vieux Port). The food and sun-dappled Mediterranean are pretty hard to resist. If history is your thing, Marseille’s got you covered there, too — starting with Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale de la Major) and Fort Saint-Jean, pictured above. The Cathedral’s unforgettable striped façade is made from stone from nearby Calissane, green Florentine marble, and onyx from Italy. The colorful stripes continue inside and draw your eye upward to the vaults and Byzantine domes. Beneath the church are Les Voûtes de la Major, 19th-century vaulted warehouses reimagined as restaurants and boutiques. On a sunny day, there’s no better way to enjoy the port than a ferry ride across the old port; here are 9 more things to do in the Vieux Port — and Lonely Planet recently shared a four-day itinerary for making the most of Marseille. Need more convincing? Here’s a bird’s-eye-view of the city.

  • What do jolabokaflod, jawn, and algo have in common? They’re three of the words added to for 2023.

  • We were delighted to be guests on the Overdue Podcast this week to discuss Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The show is hosted by two wickedly smart and funny hosts — Andrew and Craig — and delivers a deep dive into ‘books you’ve been meaning to read.’ Our conversation was so much fun! Listen at this link or on your favorite podcast app.

  • These crystal-encrusted books are so sparkly! Crystallized Books by Alexis Arnold ‘transforms novels, guides, and maps into gleaming sculptures that consider how we value and use objects.’

  • I very much appreciated these strong opinions about the legacy of the BLT and the best recipe.

  • Why Albania should be your next European adventure: ‘Albania is a country filled with picturesque towns, pristine beaches, ancient castles, snow-capped mountains, and turquoise lakes. Then throw in long months of sunshine, friendly locals with ready smiles, and a cuisine influenced by neighbors far and close, including Greece, Italy, and Turkey. (For the uninitiated, that means flaky pastries and stuffed peppers, piquant meat kebabs and qofte, hearty stews and soups for every season, and excellent coffee to wash it all down.)’

  • The painting ‘Olympia’ by Edouard Manet is a show-stopper, and now she’s visiting the United States for the first time ever.

  • Phew, this GQ article is excellent but also tough to read: The Race to Catch the Last Nazis.

  • Angela Landsbury was a goddess, and her alter-ego Jessica Fletcher was a great lady. Even the metal band Promethium knows it! Their new album Bleeding the Ghost includes the track ‘Murder She Wrote,’ described in a review thusly: ‘The verses are well structured around the lyrical rhyming couplets and totally play on the theory that Jessica Fletcher was indeed responsible for all those murders. There are some great riffs showcased here that will have you banging your head from the offset.’ And then I discovered this:

  • Do you prefer a novel to have a strong plot, or can you be happy with a story that’s just vibes? ‘In the creative jungle of no plot, just vibes… anything is possible. As one BookToker put it: Sometimes all you need is a story with great personalities.’

  • I love this idea of exploring your hometown like a tourist. ‘With a shift in perspective, you can take a visitor’s approach to the place you live, embracing both new-to-you locales and, yes, even tourist destinations.’

  • For the next few weeks, Alta Journal is publishing a serialized story — Murder on the Starlight Express by David Talbott. ‘In which a Warner Bros. public relations exec concocts a scheme to send stars like James Cagney, Bette Davis, and Lyle Talbot from Hollywood to Washington, D.C., aboard a chartered train.’ (You can sign up to be notified of new installments here; check the box for serials.)

  • If a Pemberley sweatshirt or a Nevermore t-shirt is just what your fall wardrobe needs, this website has got you covered. (And if you’ve got a little extra $$$ on hand, this made-to-order banned books cashmere crewneck is pretty fantastic.)

  • This headline is irresistible: This $12 Slice of Cake Will Transport You to the French Countryside.


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.

humpback whale jumping in the ocean under a blue sky
Photo courtesy of Thomas Kelley/Unsplash.

In this episode, we get excited about two books: Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close by Hannah Carlson and Roaming by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki. Then Dave shares the best way to see whales in South Africa. [transcript]

And now, our Distraction of the Week:


Whales are the best.

Top image courtesy of Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got women writers in translation, baking bread in Jordan, an amazing 3D book, Peruvian potatoes, golden-age mysteries, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got a walk across England, a Daphne du Maurier interview, rock-style literary tshirts, A Haunting in Venice, food trails, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got tasty reading snacks, the history of goody two-shoes, before-and-after pics around the world, stunning libraries, and more.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

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.

our patreon

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.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

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.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

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.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.