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The best travel books and world’s most literary city according to Patricia Schultz

1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz

We recently had the pleasure of meeting author Patricia Schultz, the woman behind the best-selling 1000 Places to See Before You Die books. We were anxious to pick her brain about the world’s most literary towns and the bookshops she’s seen along the way, and she was generous enough to indulge us.

AbeBooks: Tell us about the most interesting bookshops you’ve discovered in your travels.

Patricia Schultz: I have traveled all over the US speaking at travel shows, libraries and bookstores. I’ve found that the smaller independent bookstores so full of character – some of them owned by the same book-loving family for generations – are generally the most interesting, having had to grow, evolve and keep up with the ways and trends of the times. Those that have survived appear to be much more of a welcoming social center than the larger and more impersonal chains. It is so important to support our independent stores.

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos OzAbe: What books are in your suitcase?

P.S.: I always bring a guidebook or three (with others left behind at home) – but for my trip to Israel in a few weeks, I will also be bringing A Tale of Love and Darkness, the autobiography written by the acclaimed novelist Amos Oz. Three different friends have told me it promises a sensitively written and profound insight to Israel, a very special destination where I last visited 15 years ago.

Abe: In your opinion, what is the most literary city in the world? Why?

P.S.: Ireland’s deep love of words go far beyond James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Yeats and Beckett – back to the Druids and Celts. Dublin is a great city all around, with a longtime love and respect for its famous story tellers and awarded literary heritage. The capital city names bridges and streets after writers, and erects statues and memorials to commemorate them. In 2010, the UN declared Dublin an official City of Literature (a credential it shares with just six others in the world: Edinburgh, Iowa City, Reykjavik, Melbourne, Norwich and Krakow)…and did I mention its dozens of literary pubs?

Our Man in Havana by Graham GreeneAbe: Who is your favorite (fellow) travel writer?

P.S.: I couldn’t possibly list one – nor all of them. Some I happened upon randomly, others because they were linked to a destination I was planning to visit. I read Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet and T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom before my first visit to Egypt. Patrick Leigh Fermor‘s books led me to Greece’s Mani Peninsula, while Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene stoked my curiosity about Cuba. I don’t read travel literature half as much as I would like to, as I am always up-to-here with guide books, mountains of periodicals and research that need my attention for more practical purposes – but they too are insightful and inspiring in their own way.

Abe: What inspired you to travel the world, and what inspired you to write about it?

P.S.: That curiosity with which we are all born did not diminish in me over the years. My parents – although we traveled infrequently as a family due to a very modest lifestyle – always helped to keep that curiosity alive and nourished. I always traveled as much as I could, beginning with three experience-packed years after college when I lived in Florence. I never really fancied myself a writer – I had never studied writing or journalism and I read a lot (mostly to keep alive the second and third languages I studied in school) but not voraciously. My first writing assignment came to me by chance – and that’s when the light bulb went off. What if I could make a living off of my wanderlust? Beginner’s luck was good to me and kept reality at bay. It isn’t an easy (nor lucrative – at all!) career choice, but I was enjoying it too much to reconsider during those first (very) lean years.


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