Tuesday 7 June 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Woohoo, top ten Tuesday everyone! I have to admit to cheating a teeny bit on this weeks, in that I did tend to think of places I wanted to go and then thought of books that contained those settings for the most part, but I probably got the inclination to go to those places from books anyway, who can tell?! But these settings remain excellent backdrops for the action that occurs in them, and, for the most part, I'd love to visit them all (note: for some reason I seem to have thought that the top ten was about places I wanted to go to rather than just the best settings in books, but the two marry quite well together, right? I'm not crazy, honest!)

Top Ten Settings in Books

1. Japan in Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden- I probably shouldn't visit Japan after reading this book, because I'm not sure anything could be as beautiful as the Japan that I have built up in my brain. This is probably one of the most vividly described books I've ever read, and the vividness of the beauty just overwhelms me everytime I read it and I truly get lost in a beautiful storyland. Just utterly amazing.

2. India in The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy- The God of Small Things is really quite a tragic book, but the backdrop of India as its setting makes it, conversely, a rather beautiful one too. What I really loved about the book was the way that, even though the characters lived in this wonderful exotic land, there were things about it that made it seem so familiar to me as well. India just tends to be a place that I always find so wonderfully described in books, and this one does it extremely well.

3. New York in Angels in America by Tony Kushner- I know that Kushner's New York is really pretty depressing and dark, and the setting for so many painful scenes, but it's also the setting for hope and the promise of a better tomorrow. In my opinion, New York is basically the best setting for life, so any work of fiction that uses it as its setting ever is pretty much going to draw me in straight away, despite the fact that most of these works use it as the setting for horrible things and horrible people. It's still amazing!

4. Magical England in Harry Potter by JK Rowling- I'm going to break a lot of hearts here and let you know that England is really not very interesting or exciting to live in, no matter how much history there is or how many royals we have (in fact, don't even get me started on the royals) but Rowling's England is different- I doubt there is anyone out there who didn't want to go to Hogwarts and experience all that magical England had to offer. Just trust me- it's so much better than the real deal!

5. California in most of John Steinbeck's novels- Steinbeck portrays events of such utter desolation and sadness, but also has far lighter moments, and the majority of his novels take place in California, mainly Monterey, and the landscape is so utterly beautiful that it's difficult to believe that anything horrible could happen there. I have probably never been so influenced by a book to want to go to anywhere in the world as I have been by Steinbeck's novels.

6. Wyoming/Montana in most of Annie Proulx's short stories- I'm not going to lie, I love me some cowboy culture, not in a Western sort of way, but more in the desolation of a culture that is slowly diminishing and dying out. The real star of Proulx's writing, more than any of the characters, though is the scenery and setting of the unrelenting and unforgiving western landscape- sometimes harsh, but always memorable and usually beautiful in its own way.

7.Derry, Maine in It and Dreamcatcher by Stephen King- I can't really explain why I enjoy Derry as a setting, but I just really like (read: it scares me more) the idea of a small, unsuspecting town being host to a whole load of monsters. I've also read It so many times that Derry sort of feels like home to me, so I think about it affectionately in spite of the giant insane monster living in its sewers... *sigh*.

8. Oz from The Wizard of Oz/ Wicked- I haven't read either of these books and it would be wrong of me to pretend otherwise, but the Oz in The Wizard of Oz is utterly amazing and wonderful, and, having seen the show of Wicked, I still feel the same way. Just pure magic and wonder surrounds the whole place, and, really, wouldn't you rather stay there than go back to Kansas?

9. Sweet Valley from Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal- I'm not sure I'd want to live in such a perfect little town, but the idea that a perfect place where perfect people live and exist with minor traumas that are solved by the end of the book is a pretty comforting one- Sweet Valley is the perfect backdrop for the untroubled lives of these utterly privileged teenagers, and let's not forget, that it's always sunny there!

10. Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis- I know these books are total Christiany inspired stories or something, but there's no denying that Narnia is a completely amazing and consuming world of fantasy and wonder that, to be perfectly honest, I could happily go and live in today. Sometimes, one just needs a bit of a fantasy world that they can escape to when the mood strikes, and Narnia is a near perfect one for this purpose.

So that's my top ten, how about you? I'm sure I've forgotten loads of wonderful book settings, and I'm really really excited to read everyone elses lists today to find out where all of you reside in your heads when you're reading!


  1. This is a fabulous list. Sometimes it pays to work backwards!

    Here's my list of Top Ten Settings in Books. I hope you will stop by and visit!

  2. Sweet Valley! What a great idea. I've walked through some alleys in Kyoto that I imagine being in Memoirs of a Geisha. You can picture it 50-100 yrs ago.

  3. While reading Dreamcatcher, I was starting to really feel bad for Derry. They just can't have a nice, relaxing time. There's always something destroying people in the most violent and creative ways.

  4. Cannot believe I didn't put OZ on my list!! Can you imagine?! I'd prefer the Wicked's version though, witches weren't quite as terrifying in that.

  5. Both Japan and India are countries I'd love to explore.

  6. Narnia made my list too. I though of Japan from Memoirs of a Geisha, but only after my list was up!

  7. Such a good list! I'd love to see the cherry blossoms in Japan or visit Oz or Narnia. And even though the Wizarding World is much better than real life, I was pretty fond of England when I lived there :)

  8. Oh, yes! The setting of Memoirs of a Geisha seems really perfect! I've only seen the movie but I'm planning to read the book ;) Great list!

  9. This is a really great list. I'm totally with you on most of your items. I did love living in England though, and living in Wyoming was awful, although I do like Annie Proulx's writing. I guess the grass is always greener...

    Check out my list here

  10. ha ha, we have quite a few similar choices (although I didn't pick out a specific book for some of the places on my list).