FAIRFIELD — It was visiting locations such as the Newberry Library in Chicago where fictitious librarian Henry DeTamble worked that brought author Audrey Niffenegger’s book, “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” to life for Georgia Chun.
“It totally adds more dimension to the reading. It makes it more memorable for you,” said Chun, a past Solano Library Foundation member.
Chun also said she was surprised how much she ended up liking Chicago after reading some of the literature that its authors had created.
Chun and Ann Cousineau, retired Solano County director of library services, have spent the past few years bringing life to literature for themselves and other local literature lovers by organizing tours to areas such as New England, South Carolina, Chicago and New Mexico to visit the homes of authors and the places that inspired their writing.
This is the group’s seventh tour since it was first established by Ruth Begell, retired Solano County Library Foundation executive director, several years ago.
The early fall tours started as a fundraiser and have been so well-received by literature lovers, that they have become a tradition, said Chun.
The first tour took the literature lovers to Boston and central Massachusetts to visit the homes of that area’s authors and some of the locations that inspired their writing, such as Walden Pond near Concord, Mass., where writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived for a few years and inspired “Walden; or, Life in the Woods.”
“I loved going to all of the authors’ homes and seeing how they lived,” said Cousineau, who organizes the tours with Chun. “It gives you a greater appreciation of the times when they wrote.”
Said Chun: “It is a picture into a different way of life, another time.”
The tours have also included such eclectic spots as the real Alice’s Restaurant in Great Barrington, Mass., which was located in a former church and inspired the 1967 counterculture blues song by Arlo Guthrie.
“But it was closed,” said a wistful Cousineau, who noted it was indeed down a little alley just like the song said.
When Begell stepped down from organizing the tours, Cousineau and Chun took over to keep the tours going.
“It sounded like a great thing to do, so Georgia and I took it on,” Cousineau said.
Subsequent tours have taken the group to New York and the Hudson River Valley, Santa Fe, where an artist created her works, Chicago and South Carolina, where the group visited the location where author John Berendt wrote the nonfiction “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
The tours have expanded from just literary locations to also include cultural locations, such as a visit to Hyde Park where President Franklin D. Roosevelt lived. Cousineau found it to be more modest than she expected.
This September, they will be packing their bags for Washington, D.C., which includes plans to visit the Library of Congress; the home of Civil War-era black reformer, writer and statesman Frederick Douglass; Mount Vernon; the Ford Theater; and the Newseum, which is a museum of news and journalism.
Their homework prior to leaving includes reading books about those areas, such as author Fergus Bordewich’s “Washington: The Making of the American Capitol.”
Chun is particularly interested in visiting the Douglass home “because he was born a slave and became an orator who influenced presidents and made history,” Chun said.
For more information about the Solano County Library Foundation, go to www.solanolibraryfoundation.org.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.