Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Places books have made me want to visit

Books that make you want to visit places: this is an important subject to me, because I literally chose the place where I live (Laramie, Wyoming) based on three books I read as child, the series starting with My Friend Flicka, by Mary O'Hara. When I was about 10 or 11, I told my parents I wanted to move to Wyoming.  I moved here when I was 24 and have been here ever since.

(This post is part of Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish blog with a different top bookish ten list theme, every Tuesday) (see the full list here). 

To this day, I have never read any other books that have such a vivid, vibrant, emotional connection to place and setting as these books. I dearly wish for books that make that connection to place, and I was surprised at how hard it was to make this list because so many books have excellent settings, but not a deep connection to them.  Here are the ones that do have that deep connection to a place:

My Friend Flicka
Green Grass of Wyoming
At Home in Mitford
Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set
White Fang
River God
All Creatures Great and Small & All Things Bright and Beautiful
The Call of the Wild
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
The Bronze Bow
The Island

All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot, set in the Yorkshire Dales
I got to visit the Yorkshire Dales many years ago, and it has been the most vividly remembered of the places I've been to in Europe (with the Swiss Alps being a very close second). I am 100% sure the strong memories are because of my deep love of these stories.

The Mitford series by Jan Karon, set in a small North Carolina town in the Blue Ridge
If there were any other place in America I'd want to live besides my own beloved Wyoming Rockies, it would be in the North Carolina or Virginia Blue Ridge/Appalachians, in a small town like Mitford.

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, Prince Edward Island
Haven't been there yet, but it's on my bucket list.

Jack London's stories set in Alaska/Yukon
Absolutely, emphatically on my bucket list

Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey
This is non-fiction, but it still tells stories: stories of the land rather than of characters. I actually visited the slick rock country and canyonlands of Utah before I read this book, but the land so deeply impressed me that I began to look for stories set in this most unsual of wildernesses.  Abbey's stories and descriptions of the Utah deserts always bring me back to my first time hiking in a state of wonder through Canyonlands National Park.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, set in Prague, Czech Republic
I'm not much of a city girl, though I've been very fortunate to have opportunities to visit great cities like London, Paris, Rome, and most great American cities. Currently, this is the only large city that I specifically want to visit, and I blame it totally on this book.

I can't talk about books with a sense of place without mentioning James Michener. I've read Alaska, Centennial (set in Colorado), Chesapeake, and the Source (set in Israel), and all of them have brought these places alive to me.

Amazing places I want to read more great stories about, and visit someday:

These are places that I love because of all their fascinating history, and purposefully seek out books about them to read. I've listed some good books I've read set in these places, but have not yet found THE BOOK. The book that really makes that hard-to-describe deep connection.

Greece.  Some good books that have whetted my appetite: the Island, by Victoria Hilsop (set on Crete); My Best Friend, Maybe (set on Santorini)

Egypt.  Have read so many books about ancient Egypt; would love a modern book set here, too. The book that has stuck with me the most: River God, by Wilbur Smith.

Italy.   Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm sure I've read many others set in Italy. But none of them really stuck with me, and I really want something to stick.

Israel and the Levant. The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth Speare. Would love a book set in Damascus, Bagdad, Babylon or any place in Israel, Lebanon, Arabia, etc - modern or ancient. Ancient Sumeria or Persia. So many books touch on these places, but I want one that is deeply tied to place.

Russia. I've read some Tolstoy, and probably half a dozen other stories set here, but most were character-based or so broad in scope it was hard to really get connected to any particular place, to make that deep connection.

What story has made you want to visit a place?


  1. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough, made me want to visit the Australian Outback...and The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, made me want to visit and learn about Orkney (and then I wanted to set my own novel there).

    1. I'd forgotten about the Thornbirds! That book (and later, the mini series) made me so curious (and a little scared) about Austrailia.

  2. That is so cool that a book setting made you choose your eventual home! Wyoming looks and sounds beautiful, but I have never been there. Generally I read about a lot of fantasy settings, which make me want to visit them, but that's an impossible dream :( I just read a YA contemporary set in Italy, though, and that's on my bucket list of places to go one day!

    1. I knew once I got started on Fantasy settings, then I'd have to write a whole separate post (or five) about them! I cherish a quirky hope that heaven will be like the fantasy worlds we love (but without all the scary things)

  3. I flip over books that take place in any remote corner of the earth, especially when they involve unique time periods or cultures. So awesome. I've got terrible wanderlust as it is.

    1. Exactly!!! give me remote corners, rare or unheard of places, unusual settings, surprising cultures...

  4. Love your list! Being transported to another place is one of my fave things about reading.

    1. And even more so with writing, where we get to immerse ourselves in places even more!

  5. Oh, you must go to PI! It's gorgeous and the people are so nice. AND it's not that far from me. ;)

  6. Margo, I think that is so cool that reading books led you to where you live today. Great list of books.

  7. Pssst! I tagged you for a blog hop over at my blog today ;)

  8. My daughter went to Prague last year and fell in love with it. I've been dying to go since I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I want to go to the island in THE SCORPIO RACES, carnivorous horses don't scare me!



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