The Best Honeymoon Destinations for Book Nerds

Wedding season is on the horizon, and with it comes some amazing honeymoon travel opportunities. In the quest to find the perfect spot to relax after the months of planning, family time, and the ceremony itself, consider hitting the country that best suits your literary tastes. Both coasts of the U.S. boast their own wonderful literary histories, or well read and adventurous couples can branch out into more far reaching countries, like Japan or Cuba, to find their literary loves. Of course, there are certain distant havens for the written word, like London and Paris, that should not be overlooked. Wherever you and your beloved decide to go, be sure to bring plenty of books for your downtime.

Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C. is a gorgeous city with amazing literary offerings. The Library of Congress can be an almost full day adventure for any book lover, with exhibits that highlight everything from historical maps to the origins of jazz. True must-sees include the Thomas Jefferson Collection, holding many of the actual books read by the third President. And along the National Mall is the Folger Shakespeare Library, home to one of the few copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The Library regularly hosts productions of Shakespeare’s plays, poetry readings, and exhibits relevant to Shakespeare’s world. Visit the city in spring for the beauty and romance of the cherry blossoms, and stay for the fantastic history and literary sights.

England
England’s literary bona fides are unending and make it a dream honeymoon destination. Take in one of Shakespeare’s romances at The Globe Theater, walk the moors so loved by the Brontë sisters, sit in the village of Haworth at dusk for an otherworldly view of nature. Take an afternoon turn in the gardens of Jane Austen’s house in Hampshire while chatting about the love affair between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Maybe you want to check out a tour of the Harry Potter sets; they were good enough for the royals to visit. England is an amazing country, full of more literary sites and romantic day trips than could ever be listed in one place.

Northern California
Stay at the Hotel Boheme, visit Chinatown and the Chinese Historical Society to relive the worlds of Amy Tan’s novels, and spend a day at The Beat Museum to immerse yourself in the writing of the Beat Generation. Travel farther down the coast that inspired so many writers and photographers, and take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean before a stop in Salinas and the National Steinbeck Center. The dramatic contrast of the ocean and the redwood forest, the fertile valleys and the busy cities, are as interesting as any other characters in East of Eden, and time spent here won’t soon be forgotten. Whether you find the beaches or the forests, the cities or the open roads, California has a stop — and an author — for every taste.

Paris
Even without its astounding literary connections, the City of Lights can be the honeymoon of a lifetime. Make a reservation at Le Procope to eat like Victor Hugo, or drink 40 cups of coffee like Voltaire at cafés around town. A cemetery might not seem like a romantic stop, but Père Lachaise is the most visited cemetery in the world, with residents including Oscar Wilde, Honoré de Balzac, Colette, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Richard Wright, where a true book-loving couple will be glad to pay their respects. Or, if graveyards aren’t your thing, step into the 1920s and get a drink in the same speakeasy where Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald in April 1925; Le Rosebud is literary destination like no other. From your perch atop the Eiffel Tower or at a sidewalk café table, drink in the city that was home and muse to centuries of revolutionary writers.

Cuba
Now that Americans can travel to Cuba to sightsee, the Hemingway House in San Francisco de Paula should be at the top of book lovers’ travel lists. Just outside of Havana you’ll find Finca Vigía, where Hemingway wrote his classics For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, and began A Moveable Feast. The house is on both the World Monuments Fund’s list of 100 Most Endangered sites and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Places, so it is very much worth the visit. Nearby, visitors can see the National Museum of Fine Arts, the mosaic art at Fusterlandia, and grab something to eat in Old Havana. For a unique adventure in a country few have vacationed to, book nerds can immerse themselves in a culture we’ve only read about in books like Dreaming in Cuban.

Japan
A step outside of Western culture may bring book nerd lovers to Japan. The country is currently home to Kenzaburo Oe, Haruki Murakami, and Natsuo Kirino, among others, but these literary heavy hitters are just part of a long literary tradition. Plan your trip using this list of cities where famous Japanese stories take place, find a Tokyo jazz bar where you can whip out your favorite Murakami novel, and carry a tour books like Lonely Planet Japan to ensure you hit all the major points of interest. To see Western lit through an Eastern lens, check out a themed night at a restaurant, where they often take on classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

From Barnes and Noble Reads

6 Things You Should Never Say to a Harry Potter Fan

Harry Potter fans take their love of all things wizarding pretty seriously, so when a Muggle questions their devotion, don’t be surprised if they get a tad prickly. Whether you are a member of the fandom or not, the staying power—and magic—of Harry Potter cannot be denied. And with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child debuting in London this July, the first film in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy hitting theaters this fall, and the opening of the Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter in April, there are now so many more opportunities to fall in love with the Boy Who Lived. For Muggles unsure of how to talk to a Potter fan during the upcoming excitement, we’ve collected are a few phrases that you probably shouldn’t open with.

Aren’t those books for kids?”

Is the suggested age range the Harry Potter series 9-12? Well, sure. But in 2016, many adults proudly read children’s and teen fiction—because it’s great. Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildLady MidnightGlass Sword, and Pax are all current bestsellers that were written for middle schoolers through teens, but are loved by both kids and adults. And it’s not just 2016 titles that have broad appeal; The Hobbit was originally considered children’s literature. Julius Caesar, one of Shakespeare’s classics, is listed as being for readers ages 12-17. What it all boils down to is that age ranges are subjective, even arbitrary: read what you want, and love what you love.

“I thought the Twilight books were better.”

Popular culture will always spawn these sorts of unnecessary rivalries: You can be a Trekkie or a Jedi. You can love Bond or prefer Bourne. Team Twilight; Team Potter. Of course, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone, especially when it gets people passionately discussing books. Having said that, the seven books in the Harry Potter series inspired a love of reading in fans of all ages, the movies became international sensations (and arguably began the trend of turning popular childrens’ series into blockbusters), and the first official Harry Potter story to be produced on stage, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, promises to be a West End phenomenon. Also, Robert Pattinson was in the Harry Potter movies first. You can love Twilight—we do—but you must respect the power of the Potter.

Magic isn’t real.”

Naysayers who have no love for a good fantasy are the first to jump on the No-Maj bandwagon. This debate really depends on how you define magic, though. Think it’s impossible to disappear for hours? Visit other planets without leaving your house? Travel through time? If you’re a reader, chances are you’ve pulled off all three feats in the last week alone. And consider the last time you sat down with a good book before bed and the suddenly realized it was after midnight. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.

“There is no such thing as Hogwarts.”

Aside from the fact that there are now two brick and mortar Hogwarts Schools in the country (anyone else have their tickets to California booked?), Hogwarts is just as real as magic is. In the same way Narnia, The Shire, and Shakespeare’s love-torn Verona exist, so too does Hogwarts. To anyone who has ever needed an escape or an adventure, the wonderful worlds we visit in books are always there. “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it,” and those who believe in Hogwarts know where they can turn. If you can get lost in the feeling of a song, or the universe created by a movie, you can go to Hogwarts just as easily, all without the mess of owl droppings on your doorstep.

I would never want to be a Hufflepuff. Aren’t they supposed to be the lamest?”

Of the four houses at Hogwarts, three have wonderfully distinctive characteristics…and then there is Hufflepuff. Gryffindors are brave, Ravenclaws smart, and Slytherins cunning. Hufflepuffs are the nice ones who happen to live near the kitchens. Given their status as the welcoming house, they tend to be sadly overlooked and get no love in either the books or the movies. For a long time even a casual fan of the series could joke that they wouldn’t want to be in Hufflepuff. But J.K. Rowling has worked to correct this oversight, claiming that 2016 is the year of the Hufflepuffs, what with the rise of Newt Scamander and the film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Real Hufflepuffs also know that Cedric Diggory and Nymphadora Tonks were Hufflepuffs too, and there are few characters in the series that are as awesome as Tonks. So before you casually indulge in Hufflepuff hate, check yourself.

“The movies were better.”

This is the hardest point to debate in the Potter universe. The eight movies are must-watch material for all fans, and the pending three for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them look terrific. The seven books, and Harry’s textbooks, are of course amazing. And don’t forget the incredible, and undersung, audiobooks. Jim Dale is a read-aloud wizard and everyone should fall under his spell. His performance of Goblet of Fire won a Grammy in 2o01, and he won again in 2008 for Deathly Hallows. No matter which medium you prefer, the bottom line is that there is no BAD Harry Potter.

What else should you never say to a Harry Potter fan?

7 Perfect and Unforgettable Quotes From Children’s Books

Children’s books often stay with us long after we have read them. There is always a quote that rattles around in our brains for years afterwards, or a moment that we just can’t wait to read aloud to our kids. Sometimes it is the quiet turn of phrase, other times it is the call to action, or even just the stick-in-your-brain rhymes, but kids’ books have staying power. Here are a few quotes that have a life far beyond their pages, ones that will stick with us for years.

“Always.” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling)

 If you haven’t read the books, or seen the movies, then I don’t want to spoil this too much, since it is pretty much amazing. Let’s just say it is one of the most unexpected, powerful, jaw-dropping declarations of love in the entire series. Just when you think you understand it all, you are swept away in memory, regret, and love. This simple sentence — it is a single word, really — has so much power to many Potter fans that it has become a popular tattoo, and was a rally cry after Alan Rickman, the fan favorite who portrayed Snape in the movies, passed away. (Ages 9–12)

“You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” (Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll)

 Like J.K. Rowling does with Dumbledore, we find this line from Lewis Carroll calling for readers to be themselves, no matter how crazy, weird, or wonderful. These differences make us unique, make us who we are, and we should embrace that. One of the beautiful things about children’s literature is that authors seem to say the most challenging things in the most simple way. Embrace your madness. (Ages 8–12)

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss)

 On Earth Day every year I read The Lorax with my daughter. She doesn’t get the message yet, but she thinks it is hilarious to say “brown barbaloots in their barbaloot suits,” and of course the art is lovely. The message, though, is one we see repeated over and over again, in Facebook posts, social media gifs, and plastered all over Pinterest: do your part to protect the planet. Dr. Seuss can turn silly into poignant like no one else, and this quote is just one of his many moments of magic. (Ages 6–9)

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling)

 It feels like a cheat, including two Harry Potter quotes, but of seven books how could anyone love just one line? In a line that is tantamount to Rowling’s love letter to reading, I think it should remind everyone to appreciate their imaginations. Reading, pretending, loving, so many of these things originate and live in our brains, but they can still grip our hearts and direct our actions. Dumbledore’s last lesson to us, as it was to Harry, is to value what we imagine and we believe. That is a pretty strong statement for a series of books meant for children. (Ages 9–12)

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.” (The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams)

 The Velveteen Rabbit always hits me right in the feels, without question. When you are struggling with life’s challenges, questioning what you are doing, or trying to explain to kids how important family and love is, just grab Willaims’ classic. Nothing says more about the importance of investing your time, and finding who you are, with those that love you. Go hug someone you love, right now, and just see how real and wonderful that makes you feel. I’ll wait. (Ages 3–7)

”Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight noises everywhere.” (Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd)

 This line, when whispered at bedtime, is magic. For such a small, simple, picture book, it has an amazing power. We have all had this book read to us, and we have all read it to our children, and that in and of itself is astounding. But when you look at the meaning of that quote, the enormity of what it is saying, especially when you are reading it to someone every small…wow. The world is huge, the universe is so much more than us, but for right now everyone is going to bed, and it is ok. (Ages 0–2)

“I guess it simply goes to show that stuff will come and stuff will go. But do we cry? Goodness, NO! We keep on singing.” (Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, by James Dean)
This musical series is full of great lines, all of them positive and innocent, but there is just something special about Pete and his buttons. It is so easy to get caught up in our belongings, be it a phone or a special stuffed animal, but Pete is right, as always. Let’s not get hung up on our possessions and instead enjoy life, enjoy our surroundings, or, like Pete, enjoy some sun and surf! (Ages 4–7)

What are your favorite quotes to live by from children’s books?

Originally published at www.barnesandnoble.com on March 7, 2016.