I unintentionally had a very bookish holiday in England, y'all. It wasn't planned, I swear - in fact, my mother did 95% of the planning, so I guess she just knew what I would want to do. It started with seeing Agatha's most famous play:
I had seen a couple of her other plays when I was studying abroad in Cambridge, but I had not seen the production that has the honor of being the world's longest running. Verdict? I correctly guessed whodunnit based on my Christie acumen, but it stumped my ma, so all around, thumbs up! Very well acted and beautifully staged. (Incidentally, we also saw The Woman in Black, which is based off of a book... and it is freaking terrifying! You wouldn't think that a stage play could do that, but it was truly scary. The experience was somewhat marred by the excessively rude high school class in attendance, but still one of the better theater nights I've had)
On Tuesday, we went to Oxford... now, if I were picking between Oxford and Cambridge to take someone to, I would normally choose Cambridge. It's where I lived for a bit, so of course I'm fond of it, but it also is more of a town rather than a city, which is a different flavor for someone to enjoy. In this case, however, we both wanted to visit the home of my favorite, favorite author, C.S. Lewis. So off to the Kilns we went!:
It's a lovely little home, and though it makes me sad to see all the other houses that have grown up around it, you can definitely feel the magic that drew Lewis to the spot. I got a real sense of him as a person, rather than as an author or speaker or professor, and it was a treat. Highly recommend people make the trip out there.
The next day, we went to see the newly opened, super awesome, geektastic Harry Potter sound stages on the Warner Brothers' backlot:
(These are robes in the gift shop- the ones in the front are 500 pounds! Who is buying these?)
We got back from HPtopia and I dragged us to Foyles, a famous London bookstore, where I proceeded to geek out over all the titles that aren't available in the US yet, notably 2 that The Readers are doing for their summer book club (I got a signed copy of Pure!) and the newest Johannes Cabal book!
And finally, I got my fill of Jane Austen in Bath, where the whole city is lousing with Austenian landmarks. I snapped a photo of her house as we went by:
Besides the overt landmarks, I had forgotten how pervasive books are in British life. The ads in the underground consist proportionally of promotions for plays, books, and films, rather than in DC, where it's 90% big budget movies and 10% useless junk ads. So many people walk around with a book under their arm or peeping out of their purse. Independent bookstores are much more frequent occupants in city blocks. Basically, books seem to be a much more important part of life here.
When can I move?!
Have you ever taken a bookish vacation?