Posted in Book review, Books, Exploring, Literature, New Books, Places, Reading, The British Library, UK

The Book Lover’s Bucket List – Caroline Taggart

Good Evening Book Lovers!

How are you all? I do hope May is treating you well and is providing you with some much needed sunshine and lighter days. I have say, it’s glorious not arriving and leaving work in the dark. It definitely does something to your mindset – that’s for sure.

Well, on the eve of the UK opening up a little bit further, following our roadmap out of lockdown, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a stunning book I received this week: The Book Lover’s Bucket List by Caroline Taggart. Like the rest of the world, I’ve really missed visiting places, seeing new things and making memories. Don’t get me wrong, I love home and the comforts of home, but I’ve missed exploring too. It’s like we all pressed a pause button on the past year. Yet, we have made it and there are many more beautiful times to come. I, for one, am using this delightful book to make plans for the not too distant future and I literally cannot wait! Thank you so much to The British Library for this copy.

What’s it all about?
First and foremost, this book is stunning. It’s got a beautiful cover and gorgeous coloured and black and white photographs inside – some of which I will share with you. It takes some thought to piece together out literary heritage. There are the obvious places in the United Kingdom that are synonymous with the writers that come from there or wrote there. For example, my beloved hometown of Stratford upon Avon and the playwright William Shakespeare. What this book does beautifully is takes the four corners of the United Kingdom and gives bookworms an itinerary and ‘to visit list’.

The book starts with our capital, London, a hive of literary history. As we read this chapter, we travel from Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey to P.G. Wodehouses’s Mayfair, from the Dickens museum to Dr Johnson’s house. London is a home across decades of literary genius. It also is a home to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (a place I am still yet to visit!) to Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park – prominent features of the works of Dodie Smith and A.A. Milne. Platform 9 3/4s aside, my second favourite place in London is Paddington Station. Who doesn’t love that little bear and his marmalade sandwiches?

‘…It’s the bronze statue in the station that brings Paddington (Bear not Station) to life…In fact, if you look a little closer, you’ll see that Paddington’s muzzle is a good bit shinier than the rest of him. Lots of passers-by have succumbed to the urge to stroke it.’

From here, we travel to the Southwestern points of England where we encroach upon Agatha Christie’s sublime Devon. The picturesque scenery is one that always makes me feel like I’ve probably rested and rejuvenated myself. One of the most popular and prominent places is of course, Hardy’s Dartmoor.

Central England boasts such names of literary heroes like Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis and George Bernard Shaw. Years of my own existence have been spent in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, home of Shakespeare’s plays. Somewhere else I really want to visit is D.H. Lawrence’s Birthplace and Museum. I feel in love with Lawrence’s work whilst at university but I fear this is a love I have since neglected.

‘…If you want to make a day of it you can take a walk in Lawrence’s footsteps. Heading northwest out of the village you soon read Colliers Wood Nature Reserve, whose reservoir features as Nethermere in The White Peacock and as Willey Water in Women in Love.’

From here we head towards Eastern England which gives us the locations for George Elliot, Rupert Brooke and W.H Auden and Anna Sewell. Let’s continue to the North of our country where we see names like Elizabeth Gaskell, Ted Hughes, Winifred Holtby and Philip Larkin. I studied at the University of Hull. Larkin runs in the academic blood of the north. One of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever visited is Lyme Park which is a National Trust property. Lyme is infamous for it’s setting of Jane Austen’s BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Know the novel or not – you will absolutely know Colin Firth as the ridiculously handsome, Darcy. The North also gives us the indescribable Lake District, home of Beatrix Potter and the Peter Rabbit stories. Again, I am lucky enough to have visited here but I am desperate to get back.

Wales and Northern Ireland have produced some of the most influential poets we have ever experienced. Poets like William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas and Seamus Heaney. The beauty of these two locations are seen in countless poems, for us all to enjoy and experience together. Lastly, Scotland too has gifted us with some talented writers over the years too. Who could forget Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and J.M. Barrie. Whether it be their childhood setting or where the most famous books and poems are set, we really are incredibly lucky to have all of these at our fingertips. Who could forget Dunsinane Hill and Birnam Wood, from Macbeth?

‘And here you are, in the very same wood, nearly a thousand years later. Gosh. Pause. Time for tea? There was a nice-looking place just over the bridge. What do you fancy? Eye of newt? Toe of frog? No? Well, I expect they have scones. And we don’t have to talk to each other. We can just sit and read a book.’

Final Thoughts
This book has given me a real boost. Just as the world is waking up again from what feels like a very long hibernation period, we can start to plan and explore and live again. Pick a writer and visit all the places associated with them. Pick a location and see what you learn. Either way, if you love books as much as I do, this book is a must for your shelf. It’s more than that. It needs to be with you at all times, just in case you get an opportunity to explore someone or some place new.

I hope my small glimpse into this book gives you a gentle push to get out there and explore again. Thank you so much to the British Library for sharing this with me. I’ve loved it and will continue to love it the more I experience it. If you see a girl with her head in this book and a range of post-it notes sticking out of the top, the likelihood is, it’s me on my next literary adventure.

Big love all xx

Author:

“From that moment on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again.”

24 thoughts on “The Book Lover’s Bucket List – Caroline Taggart

  1. It is a slow process! We went shopping and only had a mask on, not gloves. We don’t wipe down the groceries but do let our cloth bags set on the floor in the kitchen for an hour or so before putting them away. Masks hang by the door if someone knocks we put one on for their protection. We had our shots for quite a while.

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  2. This looks lovely indeed!
    I’m very tempted to visit Lidisfarne one day, and Glastonbury – and I’m very sure I’d have succumbed to the urge to pat Paddington’s nose too!

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  3. This sounds delightful indeed. Even if one never gets to England, having this narrative and photos would be an excellent companion when reading English literature.

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  4. I love Mr Darcy, too! So lovely that you got to go to all these places! I’ve always wanted to live in England for it seems so beautiful in all the stories 🙂 Great post!

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  5. Awww … the ultimate book about bookish places! Charley, what a brilliant idea for a travel book and I love your thoughtful and captivating review! It’s still early morning and I’ve travelled the U.K. in search of writers! Stratford upon Avon is amazing and like stepping back in history and I’ve seen Agatha Christie’s house from the water on a river cruise just before it was opened up! Can’t wait to visit many many more! This book is a must for me and yes, perfect for holiday trips at home this year! Thank you so much for sharing with us!

    Wishing you a good week and bet you’re looking forward to half-term next week! Take care. Xx

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    1. Aww, Annika. After a very long day it’s been wondering reading your comment.
      I did think of you with this book actually. Like me, I know there’s places there you’d love to explore with your family.
      I was so close to Agatha Christie’s house but my mum didn’t want to go! Maybe next time.
      Like you, I’m excited about the potential of being able to go out again – even if that doesn’t happen, I’m thrilled to at least have the option.
      I’m holding on for half term! The last week of May can’t come quick enough! Hope you and your family are all well. Xxx

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      1. Charley, just to let you know my husband gifted me this book for our wedding anniversary this morning and wow, it is divine! Definitely one I’ll treasure and already planning some trips! Many thanks again for the recommendation. Hope you’re doing well and school not too crazy! xx

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      2. Oohh that’s great!! I’m so pleased to hear you’ve enjoyed it. I was exactly the same – I couldn’t wait to start planning trips! Slowly, slowly we are getting back to normal again. Hope you’re okay my friend. So wonderful to hear from you!! Xx

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  6. This sounds like the perfect book for a literary explorer. My personal favourite place is Jane Austen’s modest memorial stone in Winchester Cathedral. I hope to be able to go back there soon. I would definitely recommend The Globe if you get a chance to go.

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  7. This sounds like a fantastic read. Your country has so much history, someday I’d like to visit. I loved the Paddington Bear with the shiny nose. 🙂 Thanks for the tour.

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