Literary Trip Prep

I’m planning a trip to tour the Yorkshire Dales with my friend Zelda.  We met each other almost 19 years ago in Japan.  We were both moms with young children feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Our kids played together.  We had adventures to local parks and attended community events and parades.

Our lives have taken us in different directions since.  Christmas cards and Facebook have allowed us to maintain contact.  As luck would have it, we are both currently living in the Central European Time zone now. I’m in Norway and Zelda’s in Germany.  We’re not neighbors, but we’re close enough to take this as an opportunity to meet up.

Zelda has visited England for decades and even lived there for a few years.  I have only visited London (November 2016), however am an Anglophile with an unrealistic view the English countryside will be a jumble of a Jane Austin novel and Dr. Who episode.  Yorkshire Dales National Park seems a wonderful place to relax, drive, and walk for a few days.  We can catch up on what we’ve been up to.  The weather may not cooperate.  We won’t care!  We’ll be together and WE WILL BE IN ENGLAND!

converted school house
Converted School Cottage in Yorkshire Dales, near Three Peaks.  Photo by Pip Hall.

Completely uncharacteristic of either of us, we’ve already booked our airfare and lodging.  Now we just have to wait for our trip dates.  To help fill the time until I arrive, I’ve made a list of books I hope to read.  These books are about England, and so much more.

  1. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  3. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
  4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë


I read Notes from a Small Island over ten years ago.  While I stored many of my books for my move to Norway, I did purposely bring this one with me.  It is hilarious.  Bill Bryson wanders around England revisiting his beloved adoptive country before moving back to the United States.  Bad weather, bad food, bad transportation, yet wonderful descriptions of friends, surprising discoveries, and genuine British idiosyncrasies. I need to reread it.  I also should read it after I return from England.  I’m sure I will find it even more humorous after I visit some of the places he discusses in his book.  I’ve already ordered The Road to Little Dribbling, more England-travel humor by Bryson.  I can’t wait.

secret garden

I read The Secret Garden when I was much younger. I have seen different versions of the movie and recently watched the 1993 film with my kids.  I vaguely remember the book, yet have a feeling of suffering, growth, and beauty.  I found an illustrated version at my local library.  I really hope to share it with my kids. They did enjoy the movie and I want the book to have a special place in their memories.

all creatures

All Creatures Great and Small has been mentioned and recommend to me numerous times.  I am desperately looking for a copy.  The book is set in “the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales.”  It is the perfect book to prepare me for a trip to the area. Must. Find. A. Copy.  I want to read this wonderful book, enveloped in the sites, sounds, and smells as the author depicts them.  I will then watch the television series as though it is a travel documentary for my upcoming trip.


I have never read Wuthering Heights.  One of my book clubs recently read The Guernsey Literary and the Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  I adored it.  The main character Juliet Ashton discusses her love of Wuthering Heights, its surprises, and its characters.  I immediately added Wuthering Heights to my reading list because of it.  Our trip to Yorkshire Dales will include time in the moors.  I am very excited to see them for myself having been shown in various films and hearing them described in other novels.  Reading Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory. Please, Sir. Can I Have Some Moors? has led me to consider moving Wuthering Heights to the top of my reading list.

I have six weeks until my trip.  The time will fly by.  Life will get in the way of my reading.  I hope, hope, hope I can fit all of these books in.  I’m sure it will make my trip even more enjoyable.  These books will give me a heightened sense of the scenery, its history, and of those who have lived here (fictitious and not).  BONUS: Zelda and I can discuss them.  She is a voracious reader and has probably read all of these already.


For additional reads, check out 15 Books to Read Before Traveling to England.  I hope to read these if I have time!  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of my favorite books.  I have read it several times. I also enjoyed White Teeth by Zadie Smith when I read it 15 year ago.

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