Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set In a Place I’d Love to Visit

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

Sliding into August and I am still to bring my blog up to date, and am only a few pages from finishing both The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller and Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet – what is it with Book Prize lists and authors with three names?

Anyway, this week’s topic is a settings focus: places that I would want to visit. We have had similar themes in the past both here and here if you want to check those out. I’m also going to try to avoid repeating myself too much, but all of those previous choices remain absolutely true: Dublin, Nigeria, Prague and India; Middle Earth, Bas-Lag and New Crobuzon; forests, beaches and Gothic castles. So, let’s look at the most vibrant and exciting settings from my most recent reads.

Raddith from Frances Hardinge’s Unraveller

Hardinge is so adept at creating setting whether it be historical or fantastical.

In Raddith, humanity gets on with its life in the usual way, buying and selling, marrying and farming. They live, however, with an uneasy treaty with the Wild, a fairytale-like realm of Little Brothers, Moonlit Markets, Bookbearers, Dancing Stars and curses that could turn you into a harp, a heron, a worm or stone…

Cyprus from Elif Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees

Whilst the warfare and violence, colonialism and racial and religious tensions that mark the island are definitely problematic, the island itself is a beautiful and gorgeously crafted setting – one perfect to fall in love in, especially in a tavern built around a living fig tree.

Vietnam from Violet Kupersmith’s Build Your House Around My Body

Kupersmith created a wonderfully vivid setting of both the cities and their rural counterparts. Whilst I don’t think I’d want to live in either – the cities were lurid and drunken at times and the countryside inhabited by snakes, ghosts, smoke creatures and monsters – I would be intrigued by a visit!

Edinburgh from Elle McNicholl’s Like a Charm

Edinburgh here was a thriving vibrant location, with Greyfriars’ Bobby standing proud in the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, the river Forth and the Forth Bridge, the Haymarket and the National Library of Scotland.

In McNicoll’s charming middle grade novel, however, Greyfriar’s Bobby can lead you to msterious strangers in bookshops, the river is full of selkies who may drown you, the library contains a vampire and the Haymarket is a bustling underground centre for the unseen supernatural creatures. Just beware the sirens.

Cape Cod from Miranda Cowley Heller’s The Paper Palace

Cape Cod is somewhere that I have fancied visiting since reading Moby-Dick! Its position jutting out into the ocean is hugely evocative where one world meets another. And The Paper Palace locates its titular setting just there with a freshwater pond on one side and the ocean on the other, a woodland summer retreat from the city that is charmingly dilapidated and most of the characters’ favourite place in the world”

Maycomb from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

Re-reading this with students for work and the charm of Maycomb, where everyone knows everyone else’s business and gossip is a currency, where you are distantly related to almost everyone you meet and can pay for services in potatoes when you can’t afford cash, is wonderful.

Of course, it is seen through the eyes of a child and somewhat rose-tinted but the racism, social divisions and poverty are present there too.

Thornfield Hall from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

I did mention in an earlier similar post that Gothic Houses were a weakness of mine and Thornfield Hall definitely falls into that category. It is gloomy and vast, palatial yet run down and half unused, abandoned for months or years at a time by Mr Rochester and a repository for things he wishes to put out of his mind: his ward Adèle Varens and of course his wife Bertha Mason.

Mexico City from Silvia Moreno Garcia’s Velvet Was The Night

A little like Cyprus in The Island of Missing Trees, Mexico City in the 1970s is not an untroubled place: political turmoil, protests, violence… but the novel depicts that brutality within a wonderfully realised city from Maite’s desperate attempts to find romance and an escape from her humdrum life in the pages of trashy comic books to Elvis’ love for American music.

Uganda of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi ‘s The First Woman

As with several of the settings on this list, the Uganda here is one of two halves: we see both the traditional rural community and the city influenced by its colonial history and contact with the west. Both sides of the country are vivid and powerfully rendered and charming.

England of Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet

Is it a little bit of a cheat here, as I actually live in England so visiting it is not quite right… but Smith’s depiction of the country and its idiosyncrasies, its absurdities, its divisions, its landscape and fields and common land and beaches, its history and culture caught up in so many allusions to art, literature, Shakespeare, Dickens and popular culture; its reflection of the particular scarring caused by Brexit through to covid…


Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

August 9: Hilarious Book Titles
August 16: Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago
August 23: Completed Series I Wish Had More Books
August 30: School Freebie (In honor of school starting up soon, come up with a topic that somehow ties to school/education. The book could be set at school/college, characters could be teachers, books with school supplies on the cover, nonfiction titles, books that taught you something or how to do something, your favorite required reading in school, books you think should be required reading, your favorite banned books, etc.)

16 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set In a Place I’d Love to Visit”

  1. Edinburgh is a beautiful city that I would love to explore more. I visited there for the first time last year and it poured down rain the whole time we were in the city. It was cold and wet and actually kind of miserable, so I definitely need to visit when it’s drier and warmer!

    Happy TTT!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice list! I love how you have a mix of real and fictional places. I never thought of Maycomb, but it would be nice to live there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooooh thanks for the Uganda read! I have one or two in my TBR/ that I’ve read, and it’s such a lush setting so much of the time, both naturally and culturally. Love to have more and to visit someday.


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