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Historic author houses are among the best places to get a fix of nostalgic holiday cheer. Here are some literary sites where you can enjoy the seasonal festivities:

The Enchanted Garden at the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, comes alive with thousands of lights during “Poe’s Christmas Illumination” on December 1 from 5-9 p.m. Along with free admission, enjoy mulled wine and take a holiday-themed tour with the museum’s curator.

A visit to Louisa May Alcott’s home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts, is like stepping into the pages of Little Women. It’s only fitting then that this year’s December theme is “A Little Women Christmas” since the novel opens during the holiday season. Meet Louisa and other costumed figures and participate in Victorian-era activities and caroling. The program takes place on weekends in December, and advance reservations are strongly recommended.

The Pearl S. Buck House in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, hosts the annual “Festival of Trees,” with 29 artists, organizations, and community groups decorating the author’s home. Not only is the holiday finery lush and imaginative, some of it conveys a message, too, carrying on Buck’s legacy as a social activist. Through December 30.

Step back in time at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, which is adorned in the style of a late-19th-century Christmas. The author’s abode is one of several sites participating in the “Friends of the Mark Twain House & Museum’s Holiday House Tour” on December 3.

In Monterey, California, 22 historic homes are open to visitors during “Christmas in the Adobes,” including rare access to the Lara-Soto Adobe once owned by John Steinbeck. At the Robert Louis Stevenson House—now a museum devoted to the Scottish scribe, who lived for a time in the seaside city—shortbread will be served and bagpipes will be playing. December 8 and 9.

The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, is celebrating the poet’s birthday on December 9 from 1-4 p.m. with homemade coconut made from Dickinson’s own recipe. Admission is free during the event, and a special guided tour, “Christmas with the Dickinsons,” is on offer.

The Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is hosting a Holiday Open House on December 15 and Holiday House Tours on December 16. Along with touring the poet’s lovely home (previously General George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War), take a stroll through the illuminated gardens and listen to Christmas carols.

In a nod to his debut novel Look Homeward, Angel, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville, North Carolina, is putting on “An Angel Christmas” on December 16. Festivities include an exhibition of angel wreaths on the doors and angel figurines displayed throughout the historic 29-room home, where Wolfe’s mother once ran a boardinghouse.

In Salem, Massachusetts, the House of the Seven Gables (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s inspiration for his gothic novel), is presenting “Four Centuries of Christmas Tours.” Walks the halls of the seaside mansion that has stood since 1668, as guides share the history of Christmas in New England. Through December 31.

[Photos © Pearl S. Buck International, Poe Museum, and Orchard House.]


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Nighttime browsing before meeting up with my book group. Or, holiday shopping for me. 🎁 #strandbookskiosk #bryantpark #wintervillage #nyc #booksofig #bookstagram #bookstores
“My mother in Princeton got a cable from me, saying simply: ‘Opening bookshop in Paris. Please send money,’ and she sent me all her savings.” 📚 Using the capital from her super-supportive mother, Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare & Company, a bookshop and lending library, in Paris on November 19, 1919. Located on the Left Bank’s rue Dupuytren and then in larger quarters on the rue de l’Odéon, the shop quickly became a popular gathering place for expatriate writers like Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway, who declared himself Beach’s “best customer.” Here Beach fostered literary talent, floated the occasional loan, and in 1922 published James Joyce’s controversial novel ULYSSES at her own expense. (Hemingway helped smuggle the book into the United States, where it was banned.) In SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY, one of my favorite memoirs, Beach shares her fascinating and unique story along with a trove of anecdotes about her famous patrons. 📚 Beach closed up shop in 1941, after a confrontation with a Nazi officer, whom she wouldn’t allow to buy a copy of FINNEGAN’S WAKE he spied in the window. She later granted the right to use the name Shakespeare & Company to fellow American George Whitman, whose shop at 37 rue de la Bûcherie still thrives today and is— just as Beach’s once was—a beacon for book lovers. 📚 #sylviabeach #shakespeareandcompany #100thanniversary #memoir #paris #literarylandmarks #noveldestinations #booksofig #igreads #bookstagram #favoritebooks #chocopain #hobokenlove
What a tease. Walking up Broadway in NYC, I passed by Westsider Books but couldn’t stop for more than a couple of minutes because I had to get to an appointment. I’ll definitely be back to take my time perusing the stacks here. In the meantime, my imagination is working overtime at the thought of what I might find. I’m dreaming of adding some vintage Jane Austens to my shelf. #magicplaces #bookstores #possibilities #westsiderbooks #bookstoresofinstagram #literarytravel #noveldestinations #nyc #nycbookstores

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