Through Books, You Can Travel


One of my favorite aspects about reading novels is that they allow us to travel to places we may never get to experience, at least not the same way the author sees them. Books such as Adriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife or Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things—two books I can’t and have no desire to get out of my head—submerge us into different aspects of the world and see it through their eyes.

As another example, who reads Maeve Binchy’s novels and doesn’t want to go to Ireland? Who reads anything by Rosamunde Pilcher and doesn’t want to visit England and the villages of Cornwall?

On the flip side, as a writer myself, I welcome the opportunity to incorporate a place into my stories by offering readers the most accurate description of what that place entails. When I do my research, I take a lot of notes. I also take a lot of photographs to jog my memory when I begin to write and tell my stories. For my latest novel that is set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland—particularly in the towns of Oxford, St. Michaels, and Easton—I spent a lot of time exploring and writing impressions, anecdotes, and talking to people. Getting things right, and using places that actually exist as the storyline unfurls is important to me and offers readers that realistic feel. I take writing about places as seriously as I do developing my characters. In fact, I think of the places as characters in the story.

Additionally, I instruct a  Special Topics course at my university in Travel Writing, and I implore students to document their travels as it makes their writing come alive. Taking the time to recount what you’ve learned, seen, and experienced allows you to bring everything to life. Travel journals are awesome, and I love them, but any piece of paper will do.

If you read either my first novel called Beneath the Mimosa Tree that I set in Annapolis, Maryland or Inn Significant, my latest novel that I set on the Eastern Shore, I would love to hear your feedback.

Did I get the places right? Could you “see” them as you were reading? And, did you travel there via the novel?

I surely hope I succeeded.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly released Inn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.



A Good Book Will Never Let You Down

theshoemaker'swifeI’m about to finish Adriana Trigiani’s touching and inspiring novel entitled The Shoemaker’s Wife. I’ve enjoyed reading this sweeping story of Italian immigrants loosely based on the history of the author’s own grandparents. From the mountains of the Italian Alps to New York City to a small town in Minnesota, the characters and sights covered in this novel will allow you to become a part of a different time and place when the world was a different place, America was growing, and World War I loomed. The truth of the matter is this: a good book will never let you down.

As I’ve become older, wiser, and more finicky about how I spend my free time, I find getting lost in a good book some of the best therapy around. My knowledge about various topics has grown immensely by reading the works of others, and I don’t just mean as a writer. Sure, as a writer, we learn things from other writers such as technique, style, tone, and scope of work, but we also learn about people, places, and things.

Reading allows us to be entertained, to escape, and to challenge ourselves. It requires us to tap into our own imaginations as we read the words the writer put on the page. I keep trying to tell my students to pick up some of the classics that they might otherwise not read because they think the work may be too difficult. However, upon closer inspection, my students have found Dickens and Austen fun to read. They tell me they are glad I pushed them to pick up a book they may not have chosen for themselves.

When you spend time with a good book, it becomes etched in your mind. You may not remember every detail of it or all the things that happened along the way after you are through, but you will be left with an impression, insight, and new information that you did not have prior to making the commitment to it.

When I find an author I love, I try to read everything she or he has written; however, the worst part comes when you realize that you HAVE read all that he or she has written and start to twiddle your thumbs until the next one is released. Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is this: a good book is one to cherish and love, recommend, and encourage others to read.

I am probably going to cry when I finish The Shoemaker’s Wife. It will be as if I am saying farewell to my own Italian family as I kiss them goodbye.

Schilpario Italy
Schilpario, Italy. One of the settings in The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani.  Photo credit:
New York City during World War I. Photo credit: Ciro, one of the characters in the novel, leaves his NYC to become a soldier.