Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday!

Every week, the girls at 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!



  1. OMG, I completely forgot about The Neverending Story world. I LOVED those movies when I was a kid. Sad thing what happened to the first kid from that movie. And I picked Harry Potter too. I think anyone who has read that series would probably include it on their list as well. Harry Potter makes me want to visit London. Rowling did do a wonderful job creating that world.

  2. I loved the never ending story and I actually thought it was never going to end when i took my children and neighbors to see it at the show.

  3. Freakin *#@%& I forgot about The Neverending Story world too. And I call myself a reader! Sigh.

    I love that London Below is on your list as well. I thought I'd be the only one to pick that :)

  4. I love your list Gabe! I have Hogwarts on mine as well as the world from "Neverwhere". The secret London. It is so cool.

  5. I would love to see the Cathedral of Notre Dame- great pick!

  6. Transylvania made my list too. Good call on Notre Dame and the Paris Opera House!

  7. So nice to see an Imajica reference - I couldn't choose just one of his worlds, so I listed the Five Dominions as well as The Fugue of Weaveworld.

  8. The Paris Opera House was so mysterious and awesome!And Erik's home in the cellars even sounded neat.

  9. Oooh hell yeah to the opera house! And Harry Potter, of course. Good list :)

    Here's my list this week :)

  10. Great list. Although I would consider Transylvania to be only terrifying. LOL.

    My top ten Tuesday is here

  11. love your list! The opera house from Phantom of the Opera is a whole world in itself! And I did include Middle Earth--it's my favorite. I'm participating in the Classic Bribe as well. Kaye—the road goes ever ever on

  12. Jade: The Neverending Story *is* amazing, although I won't watch any of the films after the first one. :)

    Sidne: I saw it for the first time when I was in first grade and it really stuck with me. So when I found out that it was a book first, I was like "must. read. now."

    confessionsofacommonreader: I thought I would be, too. Glad to see that there are at least two of us.

    Willa: Thanks! I thought this list would take me longer to compile but I completed it in about a half an hour. All these settings just kept coming to me. I didn't realize I'd paid that much attention to the worlds in the books that I read.

    Anne: I would, too. A friend of mine went to Paris while were in high school and she made sure to snap a photo of the cathedral for me. And to bring back yummy goat cheese. :)

    Trish: Thanks! I'm kind of an architecture lover, even if I know nothing about the subject. I can just barely discriminate Gothic architecture from other forms, but other than that I can't tell you a thing. I just like looking at beautiful buildings.

    Sally: Weaveworld was amazing as well, but I don't remember much about it, to be honest. I'm going to be rereading it again when I can find a copy, though. Right now I'm just trying to get through the massive tome that is Imajica. It's one of my favorite books but it can be really time consuming.

    Skye: I'm always excited when I see that other people have read the book instead of just seeing the musical. Most people give me a weird look when I ask them if they've heard of the novel. I don't think people realize that Andrew Lloyd Webber never had an original thought in his life. He got all his ideas from books, even Starlight Express, which is based on the Little Engine that Could.

    Tara: Good call on boarding schools. I always wanted to attend one when I was growing up but it wasn't going to happen in a million years, sadly.

    Sabrina: Thanks! It's terrifying because of all the myth that has sprouted up around it because of its violent history, but I'm told that it's really a beautiful country.

    kaye: I love Middle Earth but, as I've only read the first book (shame on me), I didn't want to count it because my only real experience with it is through the films. Can't wait to see what classics you review.

  13. Oh Romania. I do, in fact, love that place. I'm sitting here at CLP in rainy, gloomy, should be London, Pittsburgh, and you just took me back to the lush pine mountains of Transylvannia.

  14. Great list. I would love to visit Paris one day too. I need to read Neverwhere! I love London. Would be interesting read another side to it.

  15. MA: Glad I could help! I haven't called you at all this week and the needs to be remedied. Especially so that you can yell at me for being such a bad friend. :(

    Karen: Thanks! I'd love to visit ANYWHERE to be honest. The only time I was out of the States it was to go to Canada...and I think we all know that that doesn't really count. I highly recommend Neverwhere if you like London or reading or breathing. It's such a great book.

  16. I'd like to visit Romania in the near future as it's one of the few places left that is untouched by industry and/or tourism...and that's bound to change. It looks absoloutely beautiful and has wolves and bears. I might even give in and go on a cheesy Dracula tour ;)

  17. I love that Notre Dame and the Paris Opera House made your list. I have another Gaiman world on mine.

  18. I would like to visit more magic schools in the Rowling verse...what, I wonder, does the Salem Academy of Witches look like? Is it Harvard U, but with spells?

  19. Ellie: I've always been tempted to do cheesy tours (ghost tours, etc.) but I end up never doing them. A Dracula tour, however, would probably be more awesome than cheesy. :)

    Letter4no1: I love that you had Faerie on your list. As much as I worship Gaiman as a writer, I didn't really like Stardust when I read it, mostly because I felt that *gasp* the movie was actually better. I just liked the ending in the film more. Regardless, Faerie was indeed an amazing idea and a fun world to delve into.

    smellincoffee: I wonder that myself. As an American (for now, at least), I was always curious as to what an American wizarding school would be like.

  20. Great variety in your list, but definitely lots of the fantastical. I've never read The Neverending Story, but I was always really enchanted by the world in the movie.

    Check out my list here.

  21. OH! The Paris Opera House! Wonderful choice. :) I love your list! Thanks so much for participating with me in this TTT!

  22. LBC: The Neverending Story is an amazing book. Highly recommended.

    Jana: Thanks! And you're welcome.

  23. Great settings!

    I covered almost every place, I think!

    Here is my Top Ten post!