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How-to guide ‘Off the Beaten Page’ helps lit lovers plan trips

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At times in my off-duty reading, I get stuck in a rut of mysteries and thrillers.

I don’t really want to do that. I would like to broaden my horizons and peruse works of history, music and science, as well as thought-provoking literary fiction.

'Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways' by Terri Peterson Smith

Photo: Group Tour Media/David Hoekman ‘Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways’ by Terri Peterson Smith

It’s hard to know what to read when so much is out there.

And I miss the joy of discovery.

Helping me out of my self-imposed malady is Terri Peterson Smith’s fine book, Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways.

The Minneapolis-based journalist, editor and book/travel blogger (she has freelanced for Group Tour, by the way) presents guidance through 15 United States destinations that are ideal for avid readers.

From Boston and New York City to San Francisco and Santa Fe, and from Minneapolis and Saint Paul to New Orleans and Miami, Terri delivers trips on writers and places to visit.

Chicago Review Press, the book’s publisher, offers it in four formats: trade paper, PDF, Mobipocket and EPUB.

It’s obvious from the book that Terri has read widely and deeply. It’s also apparent she has traveled extensively. As she notes in the introduction, the best of all worlds is to combine reading with travel. “Like pairing wine with a delicious meal, one enhances the other,” she writes.

The 290 pages are full of good ideas about literary field trips, suggested three-day itineraries and location-specific reading lists for each destination.

“I wrote the book with groups in mind, so the destinations, hotels, restaurants and activities were chosen accordingly,” Terri said. “I picked cities that are easily accessible, not more than an hour from a major airport.”

It’s not a surprise to me that Library Journal called the book “A bookworm’s dream.”

And little wonder that Off The Beaten Page received first place in the book division of the 2015 Mark Twain Award presented by the Midwest Travel Writers Association

What’s more, tour operators and travel pros can read this book to gather ideas and start to approach book clubs with travel and tour ideas.

The joy of discovery, in that case, has the added advantage of new business.

It’s the reading lists I was especially happy to see. I now have all kinds of ideas for my leisure reading.

Each chapter in Off The Beaten Page includes a short vignette about an author who lives in that area.

Some of those authors I recognized, like David McCullough, who for more than 40 years has been writing his books on a Royal standard upright typewriter he bought used in 1965.

Most of the authors, however, were new to me. I need to read Edwidge Danticat, Ann Hood and Robert Gordon.

And Wendy McClure’s The Wilder Life, about a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie stories, sounds like a hoot.

Terri has traveled with her own book club, and she knows the ropes of putting trips together. She recommends starting with local trips.

“I’ve found that book-based adventures close to home provide a great way to dip your toes in the water of literary travel and enrich your reading experience as well,” she writes. She provides a list of books by subject and loosely related places to go and things to do.

Terri’s blog is offthebeatenpagetravel.com.

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About Author

David Hoekman, Managing Editor

David Hoekman is a former newspaperman on a quest to tell the stories of the world’s various places and cultures in compelling ways. He especially enjoys learning and writing about the business of group travel. His favorite destination is wherever he is going next and his travel tip is to always pack an emergency granola bar or two.

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