Happy Tuesday everyone! It is the second day of the week already but I hope everyone is doing well and is safe. Oh well, Tuesday also means one thing, a Top Ten Tuesday update! Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week’s given topic is Favorite Book Settings. Without more ado, let us start the list!
Libraries and Bookstores
Kicking off my list with the most obvious one. When we talk about books and reading, one of the first things that comes to mind is the library or bookstores. These labyrinths of knowledge and published texts have slowly slowly evolved into interesting settings for stories. Some of these books that I love include Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief ain’t no shabby choice either.
Ancient Greece and Mythological Places
As a fan of mythology and history, I love stories set in ancient kingdoms and places of mythology. They transport me to a different time and place, such is the case for Madeline Miller’s Circe and The Song of Achilles. The details of these ancient kingdoms fascinate me and I can picture them on my mind. These books also make make walk down the halls of ancient structures such as Rick Riordan’s vision of Olympus. I also find ancient Rome a great and interesting setting.
Islands and Beaches
I live in a tropical country and the beach is a place that I will always love. “The sun, the sand, and the sea” is a very common tagline. It comes as no surprise that I like the beach or an island as a setting for stories. Speaking of an island, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, a book about survival and faith, was the book that first came to mind. TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea and Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women also captured my imagination, especially in the case of the latter as it also provided great details of Jeju Island’s culture, people and history.
Manderley. Wuthering Heights. High Place. They are all grand estates abound with endless rooms for available for exploration. In the case of the first two mansions, they are settings which further elevated the stories they hold and they are often mentioned in literary discussions. They are all the epitome of opulence but the grandeur obscure the stories that haunt every corner of these manors. These make them very atmospheric settings. Jane Eyre’s Thurston House and the titular Northanger Abbey are also great samples of riveting literary mansions.
No surprises here. As a Potterhead, it would be the ultimate dream to visit Hogwarts (which I can relegate to just being a dream). J.K. Rowling did an amazing job of vividly painting Hogwarts on her readers’ mind. It left such a deep impression that I wouldn’t mind reading more books set in Hogwarts. I also want to explore every nook and cranny of the castle. I also want to visit Hogsmeade and drink butterbeer! I want to be part of the real Hogwarts that I won’t take any substitutes, i.e. Universal Studios in Osaka.
Japan, especially the Japanese Countryside
Over the past few years, Japanese writers have won me over with their evocative and insightful storytelling. On top of that, they have conjured such amazing images of their nation that I have been transported to Japan. Opening a new Japanese book makes me experience Japan. In particular, I like the Japanese countryside which was prominently featured in Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel, Kenzaburo Oe’s The Silent Cry and Hiro Arikawa’s The Travelling Cat Chronicles.
Nature and the wilderness
It is not just the Japanese countryside that I love. I love nature in general that’s why I enjoy books that are set in the wilderness, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Luis Sepulveda’s The Old Man Who Read Love Stories and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. The wilderness has its own sets of rules but it also offers a different experience, abound with different lessons if only one is keen enough and interested enough to observe the ways of nature.
I love nature and the countryside but I also love urban sprawls, especially the major metropolises such as New York City, Tokyo, Paris, London, among others. I believe that each city, despite the palpable negative connotations, has something to offer. The thrill of discovery, adventure, and exploration makes cities irresistible to me. They also offer a diverse set of experiences, ranging from modern to traditional to historical. The big cities cities have it all and one way to experience them is through books.
Utopia is a great place to be. The thing is, they are mostly idealistic. As such, dystopia has become vogue in the world of literature. They present a more realistic, albeit bleaker, outlook of the future. Despite the bleakness, I have come to appreciate dystopic settings such as the Hunger Games Trilogy’s Panem, Divergent Trilogy’s post-apocalyptic Chicago, and Chaos Walking’s Prentisstown. If we don’t fix our ways today, a dystopian future is hardly unimaginable. It is also for this reason that books such as George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale remain relevant in the contemporary.
With the advent of globalization, books have become seminal devices in spreading knowledge and understanding about one’s country, people, history, and culture. In the past three years, my reading list have become more diverse than ever as I read books from nearly every corner of the world. It made me learn, albeit limited, about cultures and people that are not my own although I have observed some similarities between my own and theirs.
Apart from Sri Lanka (A Passage North), India (Midnight’s Children), Dominican Republic (The Feast of the Goat) and Nigeria (The Joys of Motherhood), books have transported me to Sweden (A Man Called Ove), Iceland (Independent People), Russia (Anna Karenina), South Africa (Cry, the Beloved Country), Afghanistan (The Kite Runner), Indonesia (Beauty is a Wound) and a whole lot more regions than I could ever imagine. I may not be able to visit these places physically but through these books, I am gaining an understanding about its settings, its people, its history, and culture. Books are indeed effective tools in enriching one’s knowledge and broadening one’s horizons.