Not that we need another excuse to daydream our digital day away, but thanks to travel writer Francisca Mattéoli’s new book Escape Hotel Stories: Retreat and Refuge in Nature, we have one that’s valid. Combining two of our favorite escapist pleasures — travel and really good books — the stunning tome available this month from the great curator of culture, Assouline, explores environmentally sensitive retreats around the world through the lens of literature and art.
After previewing the stunning travel book, we thought we’d share some of the goodness with you, dear readers, by paying a virtual visit to a few of the author’s top destinations. From a village of fifteen tents on land that shares an ancient history with Bruce Chatwin’s poetic account of the Australian outback’s aboriginal Dreamtime mythology in The Songlines to a converted limestone refinery on the Swedish island of Gotland and The Magic Lantern, the autobiography of its most famous neighbor, Ingmar Bergman, to a luxurious hideaway in Big Sur, California and longtime resident, Henry Miller’s masterpiece, Tropic of Cancer, click through to check out our favorite pairings from Escape Hotel Stories. For more wonderful pairings and an in-depth look at each retreat, head over to Assouline’s online book boutique and order your copy today. Tell us about your favorite holiday reading material in the comments below!
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Maps can be complicated things; they can obscure more than they reveal, depending on who is using it and what is understood. In Songlines, Bruce Chatwin introduces the aboriginal idea of mapping out the world through song, beginning with the unforgiving terrain of western Australia. In modern times, they have been used in reconnaissance missions, assassination attempts, and the division of urban areas. They can also be navigational charts that allude to the location where treasure is buried or even the cave where Osama bin Laden has been hiding all these years. In the following novels, maps are used as guides for the reader to understand the place described. They aid and abet our imagination, ensuring the suspension of disbelief that is necessary to fully take in the story. So what better way to start the immersion then to take this quiz? Just slide across the black boxes at the bottom of each page to reveal the answers (or to cheat).
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We’ve already reviewed the spate of unconventional literary autobiographies released last year, but 2011 is quickly shaping up to also be a year of fresh books by and about beloved bygone writers. Encompassing speeches, letter correspondences, essays, unpublished stories, and posthumous investigations, these upcoming books offer new insights into the intellects, imaginations, and lives of dearly departed cultural icons.
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Last week on her New York Times blog, Allison Arieff wrote about our favorite architecture bookstore, William Stout Books in San Francisco. It got us thinking about books, architecture, and the places where they come together. We love books, but happen to remember where we read more than what we read. The tiny balcony looking over the suburbs in Seville (Moby Dick), the under-stuffed chair in the student lounge at college (Paradise Lost), the patch of sun on the living room floor of our parents’ house in Ohio (Savage Detectives).
So what makes a good room to read (and write) in? Marx had the library at the British Museum, where he’d go all day, every day. Roald Dahl had his hut. Bruce Chatwin called a place to write in “a mythical beast,” and spent his life trying to find one. Lots of writers work at home, but we prefer libraries. Why? Tension.
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