Castles, Victorian Xmas, Ice Skating Trails, Holiday Romances & More: Endnotes 22 December

Castles, Victorian Xmas, Ice Skating Trails, Holiday Romances & More: Endnotes 22 December

Friday, 22 December, 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.


In our imagination, this warmly lit castle is undoubtedly the location of a magical library, secret passages, a crackling fire in an enormous fireplace, and a just-right mug of hot chocolate that’s never empty, no matter how much you drink. In reality, it’s Gardena Castle (Castel Gardena) in Italy. It’s tucked into the Dolomite mountains and is sometimes called Fish Castle; back in the day, it was surrounded by fishing ponds. Although it looks a little formidable — that’s some primo Renaissance fortification — it was used as a summer residence and hunting lodge by Earl Engelhard Dietrich von Wolkenstein-Trostburg. Now, it’s privately owned by a noble Venetian family. (Agree or disagree: We need a historical novel set in this place.) While you’ve got castles on your mind, you might like this thread of the mightiest castles ever built. When you’re ready to play at being a royal, you could rent one of these 21 castles on Airbnb — or visit one of these 13 castles in the United States.

  • The book Jane Austen’s Wardrobe by Hilary Davidson goes deep into the fashion (and its meaning) of Austen’s beloved classic novels. From the History Today review: ‘In her fiction, Jane Austen rarely made use of descriptions of clothing. The contemporary reader was assumed to understand exactly what her characters ought to be wearing and how much clothing they would possess: the difference between the wardrobes of the wealthy Emma Woodhouse and the poor Jane Fairfax could be easily imagined, and it would be obvious what sort of (and how few) gowns Fanny Price would have had as the overlooked ward of a baronet in Mansfield Park. Modern readers require assistance to understand exactly what clothing meant to Austen’s contemporaries, and to the author herself.’

  • I’ve got a steady stream of Netflix holiday movies playing on my laptop. Writing? Making cookies? Folding laundry? Stretching? Yes. 6 Novels to Read if You Love Hallmark Holiday Movies.

  • The LitHub Ultimate Best Books is always a good one! ‘This year, I sorted through 62 lists from 48 publications, which yielded a total of 1,132 books. 94 of those books made it onto 5 or more lists, and I have collated these for you here, in descending order of frequency.’

  • 11 Murderous and Macabre Victorian Christmas Cards, including the first ever Christmas card from 1843 and an illustration of a mouse riding a lobster.

  • Explore the online Digital Swedish Mitten Museum.

  • Something new to try in 2024? How to Host Salon Dinners. After reading this how-to doc — ‘The purpose of this document is to explain the process for hosting salon dinners, as well as some lessons learned, having hosted more than 100 of these kinds of dinners.’ — you will be ready to gather friends and tackle topics.

  • Wow! I want to ice skate on this 15km trail through the Canadian forest. At stops along the way, you can feed llamas, alpacas, deer, goats, sheep, emus, chickens, and geese.

  • This piece on flying etiquette is a little tongue-in-cheek and filled with solid tips. (WaPo gift link)

  • LitHub makes the case for why you should read Poor Things even if you’ve seen the movie. ‘…any cinematic version of Gray’s inimitable tales necessarily omits some of Gray’s most innovative techniques… When literary texts are adapted into film, what transfers over most accurately is the story being told, while what gets almost completely shut out is how that story is told.’


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.

close up photo of a christmas scene made from toys of a family putting a christmas tree on top of their car
Photo courtesy of Tyler Delgado/Unsplash.

In this episode, we get excited about two great books: One Woman Show by Christine Coulson and To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose. Then Dave recites a delightful poem from British poet Brian Bilston. [transcript]

Distraction of the Week: Brian Bilston


Take a laugh break.

Top image courtesy of Jacek Dylag/Unsplash.

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Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got a new Christie adaptation, a Three Pines podcast, a Wolf Hall read-along, the 26 most beautiful places in France, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got a train ride in the French Pyrenees, beautiful snowy retreats, a Wolf Hall Weekend, the best of author Iris Murdoch, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got Tilda Swinton as libraries, 53 beautiful streets around the world, basque cheesecake, drawing like Ed Emberley, and more.

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