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What’s Your One True Sentence? We want to know what has inspired you.

August 18, 2014 in American Authors, American literature, announcements, Classic Literature, Classic Writers, Literary News, Literature, One True Sentence, Uncategorized

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

We have just launched something special at Literary Traveler, and we can’t wait to share it with you. Literary Traveler’s “One True Sentence” will be a series of short video episodes that explore the meaning of words and the people who are inspired by their power. Literary Traveler will take viewers behind some of the greatest words in literature, bringing them alive through the people and places that hold them close.

One sentence is often all it takes to convey your truth. And each one of us has a sentence that we carry with us – whether it is a line from a novel, a verse of poetry, a song lyric, a personal mantra, words of wisdom from a loved one, or a simple string of words that bring you meaning. We take this “one true sentence” with us on our travels, drawing inspiration, motivation, and solace in times of trouble.

The first two episodes of this series feature contemporary authors sharing the sentences that inspire their life and work and how they came to find the meaning in their true sentences.

Nichole Bernier, author of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., shares a quote from Henry David Thoreau, and Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Comfort of Lies and The Murderer’s Daughters, finds reassurance in the words of Gustave Flaubert. For Bernier and Meyers, and all of us, a truly great sentence can not only inspire, but influence your life, change your course, and start you on your own unique journey.

Our goal with “One True Sentence” is to inspire — to harness the power of words in our lives, and examine how one short sentence can hold so much meaning.  And we want to hear from you.

If you have a sentence that holds special meaning for you, we would love for you to share it with us and tell us a little about how it has influenced your life, whether it has inspired you to take a leap of faith, provided strength during a difficult time, or otherwise inspires, motivates, or comforts. Please send us your short personal videos (Be as creative as you want, but no need to get fancy. A smartphone camera is all it takes.) You can e-mail us at submissions@literarytraveler.com or share your video on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #OneTrueSentence. Your video may even end up on LiteraryTraveler.com!

Happy Thanksgiving! — Which Book are you most Thankful for?

November 28, 2013 in American Authors, American literature, Classic Writers, Holidays, Holidays Literary Traveler, Staff Post

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all of the things we are grateful for.  Our families and friends certainly top the list, but if this were a game of Family Feud, a survey of the Literary Traveler staff would be sure to reveal books in the top five answers on the board. So, this Thanksgiving, we are giving thanks to the books we are most grateful to have read. This book may not necessarily be our “favorite” book, but one that has stuck with us, shaped us, changed our world view, incited our passions, or provided us comfort.

Join us as we give thanks, and be sure to share with us the book you are most thankful for in the comments.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Antoinette Weil — The Giver by Lois Lowry – Choosing a book that I’m most thankful for was a difficult task as there have been so many that have touched me in some way; captured my imagination, caused sleepless nights or distraction-induced sunburns at the beach, made me privy to different ways of life, brought me to tears or to laughter. In thinking about a book that was not just a favorite, but one that I consider a gift, I had to look back to my childhood. The Giver is one of the first books I remember reading. It certainly was not the first book I read, but it may be the first that stuck with me. I read this Newbury Award-winning piece of children’s fiction in the fourth grade, then again last year after seeing it on a family member’s bookshelf and being unable to resist. Unlike many children’s books, the plot didn’t seem dumbed down to me, nor was the simple language off-putting. I appreciate this book just as much now as I did when I was a child, if not more, because I can better grasp, as an adult, what drew me into the story of Jonah, the chosen receiver.

The Giver is a story of a seemingly perfect society, where all pain, grief, malice, and negativity are nonexistent. By creating a culture of uniformity, with assigned families, homes, jobs, even birthdays, they have eradicated poverty, disease, war. But along with it, as Jonah discovers, they have depleted civilization of many of the beauties and joys that arguably make life worth living. Color, the warmth of the sun, love, all of these treasures withheld from everybody except for Jonah, who is assigned to receive and hold these memories. I’m thankful for this book because it sparked my love for dystopian themes. But more so, I’m thankful to this story for demonstrating to me at a young age the dangers of conformity and for driving home the importance and great value of independent thinking. It showed me that well-established notions and popular practices aren’t always the right ones, and that even the most carefully crafted way of life is far from perfect. And, perhaps most importantly, The Giver portrays individualism as the difficult choice that it truly is.

 

Amanda Festa – “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman — While it is technically not a book, I would say that if I was to choose a piece of literature that I am most thankful for, it would be Gilman’s haunting short story, which impacted me as much in 6,000 words as any novel I have read since. I remember reading Gilman’s words as an undergraduate and being fascinated by how much is packed into such a short story, with so few characters and a narrator who is not even given a name. Because wasn’t that one of the points? This short story served two important purposes for me. First, it sparked an analytic fire inside of me, that unquenchable hunger to think critically about the choices writers make, the culture and time they were a part of, and how each element connects to make the words mean something bigger. Second, Gilman’s short story awakened (Chopin pun intended) my interest in feminist literature and prompted me to make it a part of my studies. Making the connection between feminism and literature was huge for me, because it in turn deepened my individual appreciation for both. I am fascinated by the image of women in art, whether it be literature, film, television, or pop culture. I think it’s really interesting to look at how one shapes the other, and how it has changed throughout the years. And, I owe it all to Gilman — and subsequently Chopin, Wharton, Woolf, Barnes, etc. etc. A brief tale of a nameless turn-of-the-century woman driven mad by the color of her wallpaper? Or so much more.

 

Matthew Nilsson — Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – During a brief phase of my life as a child I enjoyed waking up early. As part of my morning ritual I would walk out to the porch and grab the newspaper. The first thing I did was find the Arts and Entertainment section and flip to the back where the comics were housed. As I chewed and slurped my cereal I would pour over my favorite strips and often do my best to find the humor in each as I knew I’d eventually go over the day’s jokes with my dad when he got home from work. My mother, on the other hand, could rarely be found with a newspaper in her hands. She opted instead for literature. A new stack of plastic-sheathed hardcovers would appear near the front door weekly. Unsurprising given my mom was on a first name basis with the staff at the town library and trips there were always looked at with elation.  And so, more often than not, I found that opening a book was the easiest way to escape the world I sometimes seldom wished to find myself in.

It took until I was in my early teens for these two lessons to fully merge into a single concept—that reading was both a way to be taught as well as entertained—but when it did I found myself closing the final pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s seminal Cat’s Cradle. The final images of Bokonon lying on his back thumbing his nose at “You Know Who,” left me confirming—or at least buttressing—my existential feelings that we might really be totally, unequivocally without guidance in this life. That experience has led me to further questions and answers which have shaped my philosophy and heavily contributed to me being the person I am today. For this I am grateful.

 

Wesley Sharer – Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui – This is a bit of an odd one for me since the majority of my reading is either Shakespeare, Austen, or Dickens (I’m basically a walking, talking English major stereotype), but the book I’m most thankful for is Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Paprika. Three summers ago, I quit smoking cold turkey and spent my first three days of withdrawal in another world where the borderline between dreams and reality become unclear. I joined Dr. Atsuko Chiba as she tried to cure Tatsuo Noda of his chronic anxiety, while I attempted to overcome anxiety of my own. Psychotherapy machines used to enter another person’s dreams are captured by terrorists who plan on controlling the real world by taking over the dream world. As dreams become reality in the story, my own reality became the fantasy land which springs to life from the pages of this wonderful novel. The immersive writing and captivating world of Paprika helped me escape from the dull pain and discomfort of the more difficult days of quitting.

 

Loretta Donelan – The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster – A book that I have long been thankful for is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Whenever I am feeling like a Milo, and life seems a bit bland and meaningless, I return to this children’s classic. Reading about Dictionopolis and Digitopolis always makes me grateful to be a student, and the happy ending comforts me and gives me hope when I’m down. Also, every time I reread it I discover some clever joke or wordplay that I hadn’t noticed before. My favorite part? When Milo gets into a car and is instructed to be quiet because the car “goes without saying.” I’m grateful to be able to keep returning to The Phantom Tollbooth.

 

Alyssa Smith Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the first novel I read entirely on my own and it helped me realize how much I loved to read. It was probably the most memorable part of 1st grade. I was amazed that being completely engrossed in a story that took hours and hours to get through could be so much fun. I became the kid who couldn’t help reading during meals and play dates. At my first job after college as an assistant Kindergarten teacher, I shared my fondness for the story by reading Dahl’s novel to my rowdy students during lunch. Thankfully, they were similarly spellbound throughout each reading and I was able to bond with the kids over Charlie’s zany adventure.

 

Taking a Look at the Big Picture (23 Days Remaining!)

May 20, 2013 in American literature, Classic Literature, Classic Writers, Fiction, Kickstarter

It seems like The Great Gatsby is everywhere you look these days.  Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation has brought F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece to the mainstream once again and we are psyched to see Gatsby fever take hold.  While our Kickstarter project is coinciding with the release of the film, our project has been in the works for some time.  Our conception for a television series based on Literary Traveler’s website is much bigger than one book or one author alone.  We are starting with The Great Gatsby because it is one of the best, what has often been called “the great American novel.”  What better place to start our literary exploration than at the top?

We want to get inside the novel, explore the places important to the novel and important to Fitzgerald.  From Long Island to Louisville, New York City and Minnesota, we want to pay homage to Fitzgerald and take viewers on a tour of the places that influenced him both personally and professionally.  We will talk to experts, do our own investigating, and explore the highlights of each destination so that others can ultimately emulate our experience, or tailor-make their own.

The Great Gatsby serves as an entryway into this literary travel experience, but once the door is open it will provide an unending amount of possibilities. Each episode of Literary Traveler will be unique, taking viewers to different locations, viewing destinations through the lens of different authors and texts.  View the California coast from Jack Kerouac’s rearview mirror one week, see New Orleans from Tennessee William’s streetcar the next, and round out your month by exploring Maine through the work of Stephen King. The possibilities are endless and exciting.

Literary Traveler has been telling these fascinating stories online since 1998 and, with your help, we look forward to bringing our passion for literary travel to television.

We have done small-scale video projects in the past, exploring a variety of literary locals, from Thoreau’s Walden Pond to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West.  Check out these past excursions on our YouTube channel and please support us on Kickstarter.

We are so grateful and thankful to all of our generous backers during our first week. We appreciate every contribution and all of the efforts made by our supporters to spread awareness for our project. This week we are making a push to get some more press and additional visibility for the project, but we could use your help.

If you are interested in this project, but are unable to donate, there are plenty of ways to get involved.  Please help create visibility for this project by sharing it through personal connections or social media.  We are also looking for any press opportunities that could help us get the word out there to others as excited by literature and travel as we are.

Kickstarting your Wanderlust (27 Days Remaining!)

May 16, 2013 in American Authors, Classic Writers, Contemporary Literature, Kickstarter, Literary News, Travel

There are 27 days remaining for us to reach our Kickstarter goal.  We are excited by the process and all that is on the horizon for Literary Traveler.  We are really enthusiastic about this project and dedicated to making it happen, but we need your help. Check out our Kickstarter page and be sure to watch our video, featuring Literary Traveler’s own Francis McGovern, Antoinette Weil and myself.  We had a lot of fun shooting the video in Somerville, MA.  We filmed in our office, as well as at the Prohibition-style bar, Saloon, in nearby Davis Square.

For the video, we hoped to capture a day in the LT office, where we often have collaborative brainstorming sessions and discuss future projects.  You may not be able to tell what we are talking about during some of the shots, but we are deep in conversation about our vision for the pilot episode of our literary travel series. There is something about travel that meshes so well with literature and I can’t believe that there is not already a show like ours on mainstream television.

I have been a long-time fan of the Travel Channel. I will watch almost anything, from Samantha Brown to Ghost Adventures.  Whatever the hook, I enjoy travel shows because they take you on a journey to someplace you haven’t been, allow you to experience the sites, smells and tastes of a place very different from where you are.

Travel inspires, sparks new ideas, surrounds us in new experiences — literature does the same.  Literature can have such an amazing sense of place, with settings chosen purposefully by an author who found inspiration there.  How interesting is it to consider how location impacts writers, how their own personal journeys influence their work and, ultimately, how we can traverse the same journey on a unique trip of our own.

I’ve had the travel bug for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I never played house or planned fake weddings.  Instead,  I played travel agent.  I would fill out the postcard inserts from my parents’ travel magazines, check off all the boxes, and send away for travel brochures for everywhere in the continental United States.  My parents were often confused why they received multiple mailings for Mississippi river boat cruises, but I just smuggled them into my bedroom and hoarded them away in a desk drawer that almost didn’t close.

As an adult, I travel every chance I can and when I am not traveling I still enjoy watching travel shows on television, constantly planning dream adventures, most of which I will someday take.  In the meantime, I’ve been known to pass an afternoon living vicariously through the Travel Channel. But, as much as I enjoy watching Adam Richman go up against the world’s biggest burger, or watching historic haunted locations through night vision, I think there is a place for literary travelers in the genre as well.  There are so many amazing literary journeys to take and Literary Traveler has the passion, the drive and the wanderlust to be your guide.

Liter-Etsy: A DIY Guide to Bookish Goods

January 24, 2013 in Art, Classic Literature, Pop Culture, Uncategorized

I have always loved stuff. I can’t explain it: I’m not materialistic, and I don’t own or desire name brands or designer goods. I just love stuff.  My friends (affectionately, I think) refer to me as a hoarder from time to time, though after watching an episode of Hoarders where a woman saved expired raw meat in her refrigerator’s ‘crisper’ drawer, I’m beginning to take offense. Plus, the stuff I love isn’t bad; it’s beautiful, it’s artsy, and it’s unique. As that under-the-sea hoarder, The Little Mermaid, once sang, “You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty…But who cares, no big deal, I want more.”

When I was younger I had many collections. Apart from the typical stuff (books, stamps, postcards), I collected spoons. You know, those baby-sized spoons gift shops sell in both ritzy hotels and highway rest stops?  You know, the ones your friends look at and say, “Who would ever buy that?”  Well, I did. You think I am kidding? For a while, my spoon collection was hung proudly on the wall of my parent’s dining room.

Most of the stuff I love, however, is handmade.  I’m not a visual artist, but I like to think that in another life I could have been. I did snatch up the “Best Female Artist” superlative back in high school, but I was one of only two students who elected to take an art class — and I was the only girl.  What little remains of my artistic ability, I invest into wine-laden craft nights and DIY art projects.

So it’s no surprise my artsy, DIY, stuff-loving brain nearly exploded with the advent of Etsy, a website dedicated to the production of small-batch, beautiful handmade goods (with a large vintage presence on the side). What’s best, it’s easy to find artists who are into the same wacky things I am. For instance, there’s practically a surplus of bookish knick knacks and literary ephemera. Whether you’re looking for a unique gift, adding to your personal stockpile, or squirreling away goods for a rainy day, Etsy has a multitude of crafty sellers who will amaze you with their bibliophilic whimsy.

I recently did a little online window shopping and handpicked some of my favorite literary Etsy shops. Each artist melds his or her love of literature with a passion for both crafts and fine arts, yielding a beautiful (often surprising) collection of items that anyone would be lucky to own. Why purchase your stuff anywhere else? Through Etsy, you can directly support the artists who made it…and apparently, just for you.

Check out my “favorites” for my personal picks. If all else fails, Etsy has some lovely decorative spoons that my twelve-year-old self would have been all over.

Obvious State

Writer and illustrator Evan Robertson’s shop offers original illustrations, posters and prints with a literary slant. He believes that “the best thing about paperbacks (apart from the smell, of course) is that when a little jewel of a sentence grabs you, you can underline it.”  His posters, depicting his own artwork alongside quotes from literature offer a unique way to underline – by hanging it on your wall as art.  The 32 gorgeous black and white designs featured on Etsy include the words of authors ranging from William Shakespeare to Vladimir Nabokov, Jack London and Virginia Woolf.

Accessoreads

Anyone who knows me, or got as far as the title of this blog post, knows that I love a good pun, so right away I was drawn to this shop.  The owner, Lauren Davidson, offers unique on-trend brass cuff bracelets with literary edge.  Each is engraved with a classic quotation from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickenson, among others.  The designs on each are beautifully rendered and connected with the artwork associated with the text.

Castle on the Hill

London-based artist, Jess Purser, creates gorgeous works using pages from classic books.  She predominantly offers ACEOs, which I recently learned stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals.  The works of art can be made from any medium (Purser paints on vintage book pages before mounting on card for durability).  The only requirement of an ACEO is its miniature size; 2.5” x 3.5” – the size of a standard sports trading card.  (Where was ACEO collecting when I was an artsy child in need of a hobby?)  Her book page canvas serves as a unique template for her art, which takes a variety of forms apart from ACEO.  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet bookmarks, Jane Austen greeting cards and French literature post cards, oh my!

Uneek Doll Designs

Artist Debbie Ritter came upon the idea for Uneek Dolls while creating inhabitants for a dollhouse her husband had built. Afterwards, she quickly realized that miniatures provided a way to create the authors and characters from classic literature that she loved so much.  Custom orders are accepted, but with such a wide selection of authors, historical figures and literary characters to choose from, I’d be surprised if there was anyone she missed!  From Edgar Allen Poe to Edna St.Vincent Millay.  Looking to score some brownie points with the book-loving child in your life? May I suggest a dollhouse Pemberley? I know where you can find a miniature Elizabeth Bennet ready to make it her home.

 

And the Nominees for The 2013 Literary Fauxscars are…

January 10, 2013 in Fauxscars, Fiction, Film, Literary Movies

After much debate, multiple trips to the movie theater, and frequent log-ins to our Netflix accounts, we have researched our way through classic novels, young adult favorites, and everything in between, to choose the best film adaptations of 2012.

Did your favorites make the cut?  Find out below!

And don’t forget to cast your votes via our PollFacebookTwitter, or in the comment section below!  If you’d prefer a ‘secret ballot’, then send your selections by e-mail.  Make sure your voice is heard!

Unless you’re a member of the Academy that other  award show may be out of your hands, but the Literary Fauxscars are up to you!  Check back often for new features on our nominees and Literary Traveler staff predictions.  Then, come February 24th, when the stars are don their best dresses and tuxes, join us (in sweats, we don’t judge!) to see who takes home a shiny new “Fauxscar”.  It’s an honor just to be nominated, though, right?  Happy Awards Show Season!

And the Nominees are…

Best Character Portrayal by an Actor: 

  

Best Character Portrayal by an Actress:
  
Best Portrayal of a Literary Love Story:
  
Best Visual Representation of a Novel’s Setting: 
    
Best “Almost as Good as the Book” Film:
  
Best “Young Adult” Adaptation:
  
Best “Family Fun” Adaptation:
  
  • John Carter
  • The Lorax
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Best Adaptation of a Classic:
  
Best “Guilty Pleasure” Adaptation:
  
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II
  • The Hunger Games
  • Total Recall
  • The Lucky One
  • The Bourne Legacy
Best “Stand Alone” Film:
  
Best Anticipated Literary Adaptation of 2013:
  
  • World War Z
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Great Expectations
  • Beautiful Creatures
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

 

Halloween Reflections

October 30, 2012 in Classic Literature, Classic Writers, Historical Texts

Halloween’s literature illustrates the tradition’s evolution through a convergence of cultures. The festival dates back to an ancient Celtic tradition celebrated on October 31. The Celts celebrated a festival called Samhain to mark the end of the final harvest. Food was in surplus as death lingered in the chilly fall air. These contrasting circumstances may be understood as the reason the Celts believed Samhain was the time when the veil between the dead and the living was at its thinnest.

Celtic and Christian cultures merged as Germanics began to populate Ireland and the British Isles. Christians celebrated Hallowmas, old English for All Saints Day, on November 1. All Saints Day was a time to remember the dead through prayer. Influenced by the Celtic idea of otherworldly contact, Christians felt that their prayers for the dead would be most effective if sent on the day when the spiritual world could be breached.

The tradition that took place on the Eve of All Hallow’s Day became known as All Hallows Eve. Merging two cultural perspectives on the same day, All Hallows Eve used the idea of the “otherworld’s” proximity and reverence for the dead to create the foundations for a festival we call Halloween.

Centuries of cultural confluence created the modern Halloween of costumes, jack-o’-lanterns, and candy. Ideas about religion, culture, and modernity have all influenced the tradition, but one theme has remained through it all. Halloween is the day the portal that separates the living from the dead is peeled open and the two worlds are believed to interact.

Mirrors are not often associated with Halloween, but, in literature, the two are thematically connected. In literature, mirrors are used to represent portals to other worlds. Mirrors are central in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Brothers Grimm’s Snow White, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Though mirrors are rarely used in direct reference to Halloween, they have been used in literature to provide a physical divide between the living and spiritual worlds.

Halloween is the day when that divide is believed to be as thin as the pane of glass used to represent it. This Halloween, most mirrors will be used for admiring our creepy, bizarre, and often revealing costumes, but beware the few that may become the doorways for the encroaching unknown.

Friday Links: Book News From Around The Internet

April 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

Photo from Out of PrintEvery Friday, the staff at Literary Traveler gathers up the relevant book news from around the web, bringing it together in a handy post for book lovers to peruse.  Enjoy!

  • Short story writers, get your pens ready (or laptops, as the case may be) for NPR’s “Three Minute Fiction Contest.”  They’re looking for pieces of original prose including the words plant, button, trick, and fly.  Submissions will be judged by Ann Patchett, and are due by April 11th.
  • Good news for independent bookstores: Obama is a fan!  Our president made a surprise stop at Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City this week to pick up a couple of children’s books for his daughters.  And the LA Times even has a video!
  • In case you hadn’t heard, April is Poetry Month.  Take a moment to honor the occasion by stepping outside your normal reading zone and trying out poets from around the world.  I plan to start by reading the works of Yehuda Amichai, one of my new favorite writers and Israel’s greatest modern poet.
  • You have to respect horror author Joe Hill for his recent success, especially considering his legacy.  Hill, whose real name is Joseph Hillstrom King, didn’t want to write under the shadow of his father.  “I felt there was a danger – real danger – in coming out as the son of Stephen King if I couldn’t sell it under the pen name, if it wasn’t good enough,” Hill explained.  Judge for yourself by picking up a copy of his second novel, Horns.
  • Can science be used to explain literature?  Some literary theorists believe so.  University English departments are increasingly turning to the “hard” sciences to better understand the way we read, write, and think.  Interested in the intersection?  The New York Times has it covered.
  • And finally, wear your love of books on your sleeve with these wonderful literary t-shirts.  You can purchase my personal favorite  here.