The Broke and the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday, my favorite weekly meme. Each week they give a prompt and book bloggers come up with a top ten list to answer that prompt. As I'm a list fiend, I love taking part in this every week. Click here for more info.
This week's prompt is: Top Ten Settings in Books
1) The Imajica (from Imajica by Clive Barker): This week, I'm rereading this book for the third time. Every time I delve into it, I fall a little more in love with the five dominions of the Imajica. While it's a place filled with danger, Barker is so good at building this world that it makes me wish I could really go there. The settings, the characters, the creatures, everything about this book's imaginary world is incredible and, even though it runs at almost 900 pages, once you've finished it you'll wish you could go right back into the Imajica.
2) The Wizarding World (from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling): Even though this world is just a re-imagining of our own world, Rowling builds such an intensely complex universe for the Harry Potter series that at times you almost forget that it's supposed to take place in England. While I think she's rubbish at creating romantic relationships and that the last book was crap, I can forgive her for her faults because she has the ability to draw me so completely into her world of magic.
3) The Discworld (from Discworld by Terry Pratchett): Although this series of books takes place on a planet that looks nothing at all like Earth, Pratchett uses the Disc as a mirror held up to our own world to examine things that we deal with on a daily basis: the mail, movies, police, travel, tourists, love, death, war...the list goes on forever. Pratchett's world has bloomed throughout the series, bringing readers to new locales and introducing them to memorable characters. This is one setting in which I wouldn't mind living.
4) Transylvania (from Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn): I have a friend who has been to Romania and loves all things Romanian. While I'm definitely not as well-traveled as she is (or, for that matter, as any other human being on the face of the planet is), I can definitely understand her affection for the country, especially Transylvania. I wasn't a huge fan of Dracula, but both Stoker and Raybourn make Transylvania seem like a place of magic, beauty, wonder, and terror, which makes me eager to one day visit it even though I know it won't possibly be like I imagine it will be.
5) Notre Dame de Paris (from The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo): Hugo was big on architecture, so it's no surprise that the main character of this novel isn't Quasimodo, Frollo, or Esmerelda. It is, instead, the cathedral of Notre Dame. Even as a non-Catholic, I've been obsessed with this beautiful and haunting building ever since I was a kid and Hugo made me love it even more. Some people find his long, detailed descriptions of Notre Dame to be boring, daunting, or unnecessary, but I think they only add to the power and charm of the novel.
6) The Appalachian Trail (from A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson): While not a novel, Bryson's writing and occasional exaggeration gives his travel books a novel-esque feeling to them. His descriptions of the Appalachian Trail are beautiful and make me wish I had the time, money, and energy to take my own "walk in the woods." I wish that more books, especially novels, would use this as the backdrop for their stories.
7) The Paris Opera House (from The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux): I'm insanely in love with all things French, even though I've never been there. I find the language, the culture, the food, the music, everything to be beautiful and engaging. The way that Gaston Leroux uses the Paris Opera House in this novel is akin to the way Hugo uses Notre Dame...although without all of the long descriptive passages about the architecture of the building. When authors can use real buildings with as much skill as Leroux and Hugo, it makes the reading experience so much more enjoyable because it allows you to really completely sink into a novel.
8) Arrakis (from Dune by Frank Herbert): The desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, is an integral part of the plot of this series. Not only is it the main setting for the novels, it also affects the characters in unimaginable ways. Paul Atreides would never have been able to become Muad'dib if it hadn't been for Arrakis' worms and spice. Herbert is excellent at description and at using his settings as an extension of his characters and plot.
9) Fantastica (from The Neverending Story by Michael Ende): The movies that are based off of this novel do not do the book justice at all, especially where Fantastica is concerned. Every time I read this book, I find myself utterly transported into this world, seeing it as a real place in my head rather than seeing it as places that I've been before. Many novels don't pull me into their settings as much and kitchens become my kitchen, yards become my yard, etc. Fantastica never feels like a place I've been before and that's a testament to Ende's skill as a writer.
10) The London Underground (from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman): Like Rowling, Gaiman manages to take a real place, London, and turn it upside down and inside out so that it doesn't resemble London at all. This novel takes place underneath London in the sewers, tunnels, and tube stations below it's busy streets. Richard Mayhew wanders through a brilliantly-imagined world which mirrors London Above but twists it in dark and dangerous ways. I loved everything about this book, but what I think I loved most is that, like Fantastica, I was seeing this world with new eyes; I was in there completely.
Ooh, look, I got ten settings without a single one of them being Middle Earth. Score!