Observation: when an American plans a UK vacation, she will eventually end up in a cheerful mood simply because the place names start sounding funnier and funnier. Wodehouse did not exaggerate on these. I came across a Lower Limpley Stoke (street, I think) in the Bath area. Limpley Stoke. Limpley Stoke. Say it a few times; it's fun. Also found a Tooting Bec station on the London Underground map - the glorious, famous map that makes me happy just looking at it. And we're just scratching the surface on funny British place-names, here. But on to more pressing matters:
Since we'll only have two weeks, we'll have to pick and choose what to see. The British Museum in London is a must, and will probably take two or three days, at least when you add in other things we might want to see in London. I want to take a ghost tour in underground Edinburgh, which I somehow managed not to do the entire time I lived there. I want to see the highlands a bit - Inverness and nearby Loch Ness, say. Not sure what else. Bath, maybe? It consistently wins the Britain in Bloom competition, and things tend to be in bloom in April; plus it has nifty Roman ruins. Don't think we'll have time for the southwest peninsula (St. Ives et al), Wales, or Ireland, alas. So we're pretty much talking England and Scotland.
And here, friends, is what I need from you: what should I read on the trip? I want a book that, if you're not from the UK, made you long to go there, made you pine for Britain like you've never pined for a country before. Or, if you are from Britain, a book that made you proud of your heritage, that struck you as a good and flattering representation of the li'l island. It has to be an interesting book: I don't want to get bored, or find myself thinking that watching the numbers change on the train station arrival board is more interesting than reading. It also should concern itself with the geography to some degree. Jane Austen, for instance, while a lovely and fun writer, tends to keep her characters indoors, in one house, so although she was a British writer, you don't get a lot of feel for Britain itself by reading her. Shakespeare is plays and therefore just dialogue, albeit pretty dialogue. Locales in Harry Potter tend not to exist, so that isn't helpful either. The Mists of Avalon would be a good choice, but a) I've already read it, and b) it's too physically large to haul around while traveling. Keep size of book in mind as well. Also I'd prefer it to be cheerful on the whole (no Thomas Hardy).
Think about it. You have till April to come up with something, so late comments are fine. I just want to hear your suggestions and reviews before we leave. Thank ye!