Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is:
Top Ten Settings I’d Like To See More Of
Grammar aside, I love this week’s topic! It really got my wheels spinning. What book settings have I particularly enjoyed? If I could read more books about any place on earth (or beyond??), where would I choose?
These aren’t in any particular order, but here are ten places going on my give-me-a-novel-set-in-these-locations wishlist:
1) Alaska. Not just because my darling daughter is spending a year there, but because I love reading about the beauty and wildness of the place in books as diverse as The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Alaska by James Michener, and If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by Heather Lende.
2) San Francisco. My adopted hometown! Is there anything more fun that reading a novel and recognizing the coffee shops, the street names, the neighborhood parks, the bus lines? I love books that make the city feel lived in, such as Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, versus ones that just use it as a familiar backdrop — the literary equivalent of sending a postcard from the Golden Gate Bridge and then bragging that you’ve been to “Frisco”.
3) Scotland. I admit that I have a wee bit of a hang-up about Scotland, ever since discovering — and then becoming obsessed by — the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Other than the Outlander books, however, I haven’t read much set in Scotland, and what I have read has been historical fiction. I’d love to try more contemporary fiction set in Scotland. Any recommendations?
4) Hawaii. James Michener for the win! I read Michener’s Hawaii before traveling to the Hawaiian Islands for the first time, which gave me a snapshot of history without having to veer off the fiction path into reading, you know, actual history. I have Moloka’i by Alan Brennert on my shelf and a few others as well. Now I just have to find time to read them.
5) Australia and New Zealand. I realize these are two separate places, but since my ideal vacation would include both, my ideal reading list will as well. I’ve read A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute and several books, most notably The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCollough, but I’m always eager for more books set in Australia. As for New Zealand, although I’ve actually been there, I’ve never read a book that had NZ as its setting. I’ve been told that I should read The Bone People by Keri Hulme, and I just picked up a copy of In the Land of the Long White Cloud by Sarah Lark. Other suggestions?
6) England. Perhaps I should have lumped this one together with Scotland, but they fit into separate compartments of my brain, I find. And really, I think there’s an endless supply of novels set in the UK, both historical and contemporary. I’ve certainly read my share, but I do so enjoy all those period dramas with their kings and queens, the modern-day tales of charming village life, and the comedies of manners à la Jane Austen. This is one setting that is absolutely not hard to find in fiction!
7) Paris. An obvious choice, right? City of love, city of light. I’ve read bunches of books set in Paris — everything from A Tale of Two Cities to The Da Vinci Code, Anna and the French Kiss to Sacré Bleu — and I never get tired of it! Give me crepes to snack on and a walk by the Seine and I’m happy.
8) New York. Who doesn’t love a good New York book? As in my #2 selection above, I really appreciate a book that gets into the nooks and crannies of New York, exploring its neighborhoods, flavors, sights and sounds, rather than just parading a character by the Empire State Building to prove that “hey, we’re in New York now!” Two of the best New York books that I’ve read lately are The Diviners by Libba Bray and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. More, please!
9) Italy. No brainer. Not just a pretty face — it’s got history too! I love books set in any of the beautiful towns and cities of Italy, and whether historical or contemporary, a book that makes me feel like I’m there is a win for me.
10) My final choice, and I had to debate whether to stay local or go more exotic — but in the end, I’ll pick my own California as a preferred setting for fiction. In addition to books set in my #2 choice, San Francisco, I love reading novels that capture the physical beauty, the frontier ambitions, and the cultural see-saws of the great State of California. Excellent California fiction abounds, from older works by John Steinbeck and Wallace Stegner to more recent novels such as The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and Golden Days by Carolyn See or historical fiction such as Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston or the quirky Wit’s End by Karen Joy Fowler.
If only I could visit as many of these places in real life as I do in fiction! But that’s one of the joys of reading, right? Take me away… in the pages of a book.