I love a good travel guide as much as the next person. Even in this largely digital day and age, they can be super helpful in navigating a new city or area. (J and I have found the Lonely Planet guides – the actual paper kind – particularly helpful during our trips to Montreal and Prince Edward Island.)
But I also love to do a different kind of travel prep: reading about the city where I’m headed. After I moved to Boston a few years ago, I found myself devouring both novels and nonfiction about the city. It not only gave me a broader and deeper sense of the history of my new home, it also gave me the thrill of seeing familiar streets and neighborhoods on the page.
Sometimes reading about a city is pure literary escapism: for example, there’s no quicker fix for my frequent Anglophile cravings than diving into a book set in England. But sometimes it’s a way to understand a place and its people more deeply, or a way to gain a fresh perspective on a place I already love.