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A Literary Feast

March 21st, 2016

Asheville has plenty of outdoor activities, but what to do when the rainy days arrive?
The answer is: curl up with a great book.

One of Asheville's little known secrets is that it is the literary gem of western North Carolina. It's been referenced in modern literary classics such as The Great Gatsby, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, Ron Rash’s The World Made Straight, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, and Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel.

Thomas Wolfe, author of Look Homeward, Angel, is Asheville’s literary hero. The writer’s childhood home, the Old Kentucky Home boarding house, still stands downtown and the Wolfe Memorial Visitor Center is located behind it at 52 North Market Street.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald vacationed here. Zelda frequently visited the area over twelve years until her tragic death in the Highland Hospital fire in 1948.

The city and outlying area have been home and inspiration to numerous authors, including: the Fitzgeralds, Charles Frazier, Wilma Dykeman, Carl Sandburg, Ron Rash, Sarah Addison Allen, Fred Chappell, Elizabeth Kostova, Robert Creely, Russell Edson, Stephanie Perkins, Wiley Cash, Gail Godwin, Wayne Caldwell, Mark de Castrique, and Robert Morgan. O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) is buried at Riverside Cemetery.

Visiting for the weekend? There are enough bookstores in the metro area alone to organize a book crawl, and plenty of time for refreshments in between.

Here are our suggestions to make a literary day of it:

Start at Malaprop's.
Malaprop's is literally and figuratively a book cornerstone of the city, located on the corner of Walnut and Haywood downtown. Most tourists will gravitate here, but locals enjoy its sister store Downtown Books & News (used books and a great magazine selection), too. It's located around the corner on North Lexington Avenue.

For those with rare and out-of-print tastes, look no further than antiquarian bookseller The Captain’s Bookshelf near the Grove Arcade.

And for a little more luxury and the perfect date afternoon spot, Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar is just steps away from Captain's Bookshelf on the south end of the Grove Arcade. It is popular for a coffee or glass of bubbly, and all of their books and art are for sale.