Thursday, February 6, 2014

Southern Reading

I love reading books that are set in places I want to visit.   Experiencing the destination through the eyes and voice of a great author stimulates both your senses as well as your imagination. When you finally walk on the fabled streets or see a building from the book, the story as well as the area become alive with magic and mystery. The novel's story helps you explore the area from a different perspective, one that can be filled with intrigue, excitement or even darkness.

The first book I remember reading right before taking a trip was South of Broad by Pat Conroy.  Recommended to me by friend and South Carolina native, Jenny, it takes place in dreamy Charleston. Conroy's description of Charleston is truly romantic and provides a peek into the lives of its inhabitants.

Feelings of nostalgia overcame me upon walking in downtown Charleston. I was experiencing the Holy City through the eyes of the book's main character. I had learned about his childhood, about his daddy cooking Low Country oysters.  I had kept pace with him on his daily runs through the Battery. I lived with him in his house on Tradd Street, just South of Broad (street).

The cobblestone paths held more than beauty for me. They danced in my memory and my imagination.

The description of the photo of Rainbow Row hanging in a character's bathroom had special meaning when seeing the glorious pastel buildings in person.

The gorgeous historical homes facing Charleston Harbor ignited in me both curiosity and insight. I felt like I knew the Charlestonians living inside these incredible residences.  They dressed well, wore bow ties and drank gin & tonics while enjoying the sea breeze on the porch. The priceless antiques inside showed signs of wear because in Charleston, it would be considered tacky to restore or refinish them.

Oak trees dripping with moss and vine-covered brick walls seemed both like the stuff of my own life as well as a life I wished I could live.

When you begin to plan your next vacation, be it to a city, beach, vineyard, mountain range or wilderness, consider reading a book staged in that locale.  It will heighten your experience in ways you never expected.

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to go to Charleston. It looks beautiful.