Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics
- February 23: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud
- March 2: Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had (Lawyers in Literature)
- March 9: Spring Cleaning Freebie
- March 16: Books On My Spring TBR
- March 23: Books With Funny Titles
With everything that has been going on in the real world recently – pandemics, fires, floods that have made the world feel rather apocalyptic! – what is better than escaping to another country, another time, another world? Not that every bookish world is one I’d like to live in! I mean, let’s take Westeros. I don’t mind a bit of harshness but not the brutality that marks George R. R. Martin’s worldmaking!
Let’s try to divide this list into two: fantasy worlds and real world places – insofar as any world created within a fictional work is “real”. But then the physical world has felt rather unreal in the last twelve months.
The Shire, The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
Okay, it may become tediously parochial and middle class after a while but is it a place of supreme comfort. I mean, the novel itself starts with
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Le Cirque des Rêves, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Yes, you might be trapped in it.
Yes, you may be an unwitting pawn in a magical contest you know nothing about.
But the night circus! Who wouldn’t run away with this one? Especially with attractions like these:
- The Illusionist and the Fortune Teller.
- The Labyrinth.
- The Ice Garden and the Wishing Tree.
- The Carousel and the Cloud Maze.
- The Contortionist and the Acrobat Tent.
- The Clock and the Cat Tamers.
- The Bonfire and the Pool of Tears.
- The Statues and the Food.
You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus. You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.
Scirland, A Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan
Scirland, Vystrana, Eriga, this series has a Victorian-esque climate to suit anyone from the frozen heights of the mountains to the tropical Green Hell to the oceans explored by the Basilisk.
And it has dragons.
And a wonderful draconic cover.
Oh, and also a powerful no-nonsense heroine.
Lancre, Discworld, Terry Pratchett
Yes, obviously there was going to be a Discworld location in this list. Obviously.
Ankh-Morpork was tempting but Lancre was the setting of the first Discworld novel I read and the witches – irascible formidable Granny Weatherwax, irreverent Nanny Og – and the practicality of their magic chimed hugely.
London Below, Neverwhere, Neil Gaimon
Again, it was inevitable that a Gaiman novel would creep into this list.
And the underworld of London Below, where the station names are re-imagined as only Gaiman can, is populated by such a wonderful cast of eccentric characters! Door, The Marquis de Carabas, Hunter and Lamia, Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar.
“He…” Richard began. “The marquis. Well, you know, to be honest, he seems a little bit dodgy to me.”
Door stopped. The steps dead-ended in a rough brick wall. “Mm,” she agreed. “He’s a little bit dodgy in the same way that rats are a little bit covered in fur.”
New Crobuzon, Perdido Street Station, China Miéville
The world of Bas-Lag and the city of New Crobuzon are not without their problems and their hardships – beside the racism and speciesism and poverty, it is haunted by mafia thugs and slake moths.
But this one of the most richly imagined, vibrant diverse communities I have come across populated by humans, kephri garuda, remade, cactacae, vodyanoi… It is fantastical steam-punk,
New Crobuzon, this towering edifice of architecture and history, this complexitude of money and slum, this profane steam-powered god…
New Crobuzon, crouching beneath The Ribs,
Leviathan shards of yellowing ivory thicker than the oldest trees exploded out of the ground, bursting away from each other, sweeping up in a curved ascent until, more than a hundred feet above the earth, looming now over the roofs of the surrounding houses, they curled sharply back towards each other. They climbed as high again till their points nearly touched, vast crooked fingers, a god-sized ivory mantrap.
The Myriad, Deeplight, Francis Hardinge
An oceanic island world?
The bodies of ancient Gods being harvested for parts to enhance technology?
Yes, yes, yes please!
Real World Places
Ulysses, James Joyce; Dublin Murder Squad series, Tana French
It is a gorgeous place, and of course Guinness!
Austen Friars, Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
The world of Austen Friars in Wolf Hall seems wonderfully warm and full of what we might see today as found family.
Thomas Cromwell may have lost his wife and daughters to the plague, but his home is so open and welcoming to the young men and women he encounters!
Half of A Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Things FAll Apart, Chinua Achebe; My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite; Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi; Wole Soyinka
Lagos may seem a little overwhelming, but the nation and it’s tribal cultural mix has always appealed hugely.
Dracula, Bram Stoker; The Deathless Girls, Kiran Millwood Hargrave
I mean, who wouldn’t want to visit the site of the Prince of the Undead?
In the daytime at least.
Australia / Tasmania
The Dry, Force of Nature, The Survivors, Jane Harper
I’m not sure about living in the outback, but I am certainly curious about the vividness of the settings in Australia.
Moscow, The Winternight Trilogy, Katherine Arden
The Russia – Rus’ – of Arden’s novels is a wonderful place, on the cusp between modernity and ancient, Christian and pagan – and the existence of the traditional myths is a massive draw!
Coopers Chase Retirement Village, The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
And in my Golden Years – which don’t feel too far away on some occasions! – to retire to Cooper’s Chase and the warm, complex, acerbic and no-nonsense residents of the retirement home might keep me on my toes.
And in the event of boredom, one can always solve a murder or two.
On a Thursday.
Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Topics
- April 6: Books I’d Gladly Throw Into the Ocean (submitted by Beauty & Her Books)
- April 13: Book Titles That Sound Like They Could Be Crayola Crayon Colors (Take a moment and Google some of the crazy Crayola crayon colors that exist. Can you think of any book titles that sound like they could also be a crayon color? It might be fun to include a description of the kind of color you’re picturing.)
- April 20: Colorful Book Covers
- April 27: Animals from Books (these could be mythical, real, main characters, sidekicks, companions/pets, shifters, etc.) (Submitted by Paige @paigesquared and Jennifer Y. @ Never Too Many to Read)
- May 4: My Ten Most Recent Reads (maybe share a one-sentence review to go with?)