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Book travels with BFFs
Terri Peterson Smith, author of "Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways"

"The search for that 'sweet spot' between imagination and reality is the hallmark of literary travel. Find it, and you're in heaven."
-- Terri Peterson Smith

by Norma Smith Olson

What could be better than a lively discussion with your book group friends? Traveling with them to literary places, suggests Minneapolis author Terri Peterson Smith in her recently published book, "Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways."

"There's a certain thrill that comes when the imaginary world and the real world merge," writes Smith about going to the places you've read about in books.

The majority of "Off the Beaten Page" is packed with Smith's suggestions for great reads by female and male authors when you visit cities or landscapes across the United States, from Jane Ziegleman's "97 Orchard" about the culinary and social life of five immigrant families living in a New York City tenement to Louise Erdrich's books featuring her Native American heritage of Minnesota and North Dakota to Sue Grafton writing about P.I. Kinsey Millhone in her A-Z detective series set in Southern California.

Smith includes book lists and trip itineraries for 15 locations to whet your literary touring appetites.

And she has suggestions for planning and executing a successful adventure with your book BFFs. Understanding group dynamics and pre-trip preparations are as essential as choosing and reading the books, according to Smith.

The chapter on avoiding a "temperamental journey" has noteworthy advice, including talking together about your individual trip expectations, sharing concerns about personal travel fears and what you're able and/or willing to spend moneywise, choosing roomies, snoring and establishing group rules.

She recommends developing an itinerary - whether detailed or general - that includes individual down time. Flexibility and compromise are key elements needed for group travel.

"Conflicts arise when members of the group have different goals for the same trip," writes Smith, "for example, different expectations for the level of physical activity or for how lively the nightlife should be on a trip."

And of course, she notes, it's important to determine the amount of time and depth of your group book discussions - whether meeting with local authors and visiting all of the possible locales mentioned in a book or simply relaxing and discussing the book surrounded by the backdrop of the story.

Literary traveling can be a "place where the mental and emotional imagery of a great book and its contemporary sights, sounds, and smells all overlap," writes Smith. "The search for that 'sweet spot' between imagination and reality is the hallmark of literary travel. Find it, and you're in heaven."

FFI: www.offthebeatenpagetravel.com

IF YOU GO: Terri Peterson Smith will be signing and discussing "Off The Beaten Page" at The Bookcase, 824 Lake St. E., Wayzata, Aug. 13, 2013, 7 p.m.


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