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 medieval hilltop building above is not the home of a witch, vampire, or werewolf (as far as we know). It’s the UNESCO-protected Biertan fortified church, built in 1524. The village of Biertan is about halfway between the towns of Sighisoara and Medias in Romania, and it’s a fairy tale land of green rolling hills and traditional farms. The church is surrounded by vineyards and is protected by 35-foot-high defensive walls (10.6 meters) that connect its towers and gates. This place was pretty much impenetrable during medieval times. Here’s a lovely video of the outside of the church and the surrounding countryside — and here is a brief tour of the inside with a guide. This is everything you need to know about the fortified churches of Transylvania.
We’re thrilled to be quoted in this (excellent) article from Shondaland about the connection between reading and empathy.
This choose-your-own-adventure Halloween story from The Washington Post is pretty fun. (gift link)
Take a few minutes and browse through some of Emily Dickinson’s stuff. Her handkerchief and teacup!
Haunting Texts and Eldritch Tomes: Seven Scary Books That Thankfully Aren’t Real. ‘[T]here are in-story texts that so terrifying that I feel safer knowing they remain locked away in their fictional realms. Here are seven scary and sinister books that I’m glad aren’t actually real.’ (Everyone is looking at you, Babadook!)
Keep the eerie vibes going! The Top 10 Spookiest Haunted House Novels.
Irresistible headline: Accrington Woman, 107, Says Secret to Long Life Is Cups of Tea.
26 Spooky British Movies for Creepy Autumn Nights. Stream ‘em right now!
Really enjoyed this travel writing in Eater about food in Ireland. ‘Upon entering St. George’s, I paid £1 for an oyster caught that morning and shucked before my eyes, and knew I was in a really special place. I downed a towering breakfast sandwich loaded with potatoes, and mushrooms, and sausage, and egg on top of a Belfast bap, the city’s signature crusty roll. I bought some of the best strawberries I’d ever eaten from a woman who grew them in her backyard. And then, I stumbled upon the chewy, crunchy dessert that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about for months: a coconut-dusted tray of Fifteens.’
The History Behind 8 Halloween Words. Wraith! Banshee! Vampire! And other haunting words…
The Best Hotels – and Hotel Bars – in Espionage Fiction. ‘These intimate, dark, private settings facilitate the whispered conversations that set in motion the skullduggery of espionage: bribes, coups, assassinations, and the exchange of classified information.’
Fashion inspiration for when you’re having tea with Edward Gorey:
Victorian Batgirls 🦇 pic.twitter.com/iATwMqO8IA— Emily Jane Rothwell 🖤🌸🖋 (@emjanerothwell) October 21, 2023
7 Must-Read Nigerian Horror Novels. ‘Adorah Nworah, author of House Woman, recommends spine-tingling books that will scare you.’ (For more on Nigeria, treat yourself to our podcast and book recommendations.)
This bookish exhibit — Bookends and Beginnings: Stories from Our Collections by Our Volunteers — at The Portico Library in Manchester, UK, sounds like a delight. The Portico is a subscription library and newsroom with a big volunteer staff. The new exhibit ‘gathers together stories written, interpreted, and shared by our volunteers about what captivates them in the collection.’ The library seems like a book-lover’s paradise: ‘Some [books] are stored on the highest shelf, four meters above the ground. The titles that are visible on the spines invite you to open them and to read what people read 200 years ago… They include intriguing titles like Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling or curious ones such as Things Not Generally Known.’
A nice recap of Shirley Jackson’s best works and why she remains the queen of quiet horror.
Do you want to draw a cute vampire or witch? Ed Emberley’s Little Drawing Book of Weirdos_ shows you how.
CrimeReads answers the question: Why do in-laws make such good fictional villains?
For all your October Goth needs: Lifting the Veil on History’s Best Gothic Literature — and our list of 43 Gothic Novels with a Strong Sense of Place.
The Guardian celebrates 65 years of Paddington Bear. ‘Sixty five years ago, the world received one of its all-time great origin stories. A train station. An immigrant. A label reading PLEASE LOOK AFTER THIS BEAR. THANK YOU. A family.’
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: The Murders at Fleat House by Lucinda Riley and Starter Villain by John Scalzi. Then Mel explains what she means when she says the magic word ‘Gothic.’ [transcript]
Our review of Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George
YouTube: Tristan and the Classics
Video: 8 Aspects of Gothic Books
Gothic novels mentioned during the Distraction of the Week:
Top image courtesy of Vlad Sokolovsky/Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
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.