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World's top 10 literary cities from National Geographic Traveler

November 18, 2011 |  8:47 am

Edinburgh_library
If you're an Angeleno hoping to visit one of the world's top 10 literary cities, you'll have to start looking for a plane ticket. Only two American cities made the new list from National Geographic Traveler, and Los Angeles wasn't one of them.

Edinburgh, Scotland, tops the list, which is admittedly a little Eurocentric. That's good news for literary tourists trying to hit every one of the magazine's top 10 cities. Fly to Scotland, then Dublin (No. 2), then to London (No. 3) and then take the Chunnel over to No. 4, Paris. Maybe traveling in order isn't such a great idea -- closer Stockholm is at No. 6, with No. 5, St. Petersburg, Russia, being a bit farther off.

The requirements for what makes a literary city from National Geographic Traveler's perspective are idiosyncratic. Edinburgh "has inspired more than 500 novels," which could easily be said for New York, a city that's not on the list. Edinburgh also has a Writers Museum, though, and a couple of literary pub crawls, which propels it to No. 1.

Number 7 and 8 are the two U.S. cities that made the list: Portland, Ore., and Washington. Portland is, of course, home to the excellent, sprawling Powell's bookstore. It's also a community that likes to read -- as is demonstrated in the "Portlandia" video clip, "Did You Read?" which is after the jump. Washington makes the grade because of the Library of Congress. Right. Hard to argue with that.

Bringing up the end of the list are Melbourne, Australia, at No. 9 (it has a walking tour) and Santiago, Chile (for popular Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda), at No. 10, the only cities included in the Southern Hemisphere. For literary cities in India or Asia, well, we'll have to wait for another list.

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: A library in Edinburgh, Scotland. Credit: Boon Low via Flickr

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