Pula, Hugo Awards, UNESCO Cities of Lit, Barbie History, Luxe Hotels & More: Endnotes 09 February

Pula, Hugo Awards, UNESCO Cities of Lit, Barbie History, Luxe Hotels & More: Endnotes 09 February

Friday, 9 February, 2024

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 Roman amphitheater above is the Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia. The city (known as Pola in Italian) is on the Istrian peninsula, spitting distance from Rovinj (another pretty Croatian city), Trieste (an Italian city with Austro-Hungarian influence), and Venice (just a 3-hour catamaran ride away). The Arena is one of the largest and best-preserved ancient amphitheaters in Europe — despite the Italian fascists’ attempts during WWII to dismantle it and relocate it to mainland Italy. Now you can roam the ruins during the day and take in concerts or films at night. Duran Duran is playing there on 30 July; Dave and I will be in the audience, sitting on the ancient stone seats. We’re also planning a walking food tour, maybe a sunset boat ride to look for dolphins, and definitely a swim in the turquoise water. We’ll also take a stroll through the triumphal Arch of the Sergii, built in 29-27 BCE to honor three members of the Sergii family (one of the posh ruling families in ancient Rome). More relevant to our interests: It’s next to the Ulysses bar, the former Berlitz language school where Irish author James Joyce once taught English. Sadly, the author of Ulysses, Dubliners, Finnegans Wake, and more didn’t enjoy his stay in Croatia. He grumpily remarked, ‘Istria is a long boring place wedged into the Adriatic peopled by ignorant Slavs who wear little red caps and colossal breeches.’ Grump.

  • The Tocabe restaurant and its online Indigenous Marketplace make Indigenous meals available to Native American communities — and their heat-and-eat meals can be delivered in the 48 contiguous states. Saveur has the whole (inspiring) story. ‘This is food that’s nourishing, but also spiritually supportive… we’re providing something that’s meaningful and comes from other Native hands.’

  • ‘As I grow older — I’m now in my early 60s — the books of my childhood seem more and more vivid… Not only can I remember, half a century later, my first readings of Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, but I can sense quite clearly my feelings at the time — all the wide-eyed excitement of a seven-year-old, and that curious vulnerability, the fear that my imagination might be overwhelmed by the richness of these invented worlds. Even now, simply thinking about Long John Silver or the waves on Crusoe’s island stirs me far more than reading the original text. I suspect that these childhood tales have long since left their pages and taken on a second life inside my head.’ Read more of J.G. Ballard’s gorgeous words about beloved books.

  • 7 UNESCO Cities of Literature Every Bookworm Should Visit. (The criteria for a City of Literature include the number of libraries, bookstores, and cultural centers, the media’s involvement in promoting literature, literary events and festivals, and the role that literature, poetry, and drama play in city life.)

  • Ooh, this quiz was tricksy! Each question has four options, three of which can be used to finish a common expression. You’ve got to find the odd word. I got 14/17.

  • From Collector’s Weekly: The history of Barbie and why she’s more popular than ever.


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.

a fridge with the door standing open with nothing inside except three bottles of Mountain Dew
Erik Mclean/Pexels.

In this episode, we get excited about two books: Everyone on This Train is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson and Fall Through by Nate Powell. Then Dave shares a lovely poem by Matthew Olzmann. [transcript]

This episode is brought to you by BetterHelp. Give online therapy a try at betterhelp.com/StrongSense and get on your way to being your best self.


Looking at you with all the heart-eye emojis.

Top image courtesy of https://www.pulainfo.hr/.

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 wintry reads from the Booker Library, new literary screen adaptations, journaling prompts, fairy-tale destinations, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got 18 author homes to visit, the golden age of air travel, great book club questions, tea with salt, the new Ripley, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got biopics about real-life writers, 17th-century ballads, Julia Child in Paris, visiting Whitby, sand crime rings (!), 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

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

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
Sign up for our free Substack!
follow us

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