Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Take Me Away From This Place...

***I've updated Wednesday's post just to let you guys know I'm going to be taking Fridays off from blogging from now until September.  There doesn't seem to be much activity right before the weekend and the kids are making it hard for me to post and comment on my usual schedule so voila!  I hope you all have a great weekend!***
I’ve been reading a few books lately where the plot and characters aren’t the only things drawing me back for more.  In fact, one of the biggest appeals of all is the setting.

Done right, the setting can pluck you from your comfy couch and drop you smack dab in the middle of another place.  Sometimes it’s a place you’ve never seen and have to discover right along with the characters;  a place that grows just as familiar and comfortable over time- like Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter.

Then there are settings that are already familiar and comfortable- like the little town of Bontemps in Charlaine Harris novels.  It’s easy to imagine the small town bar, or having to drive into a different parish to get to a WalMart, or the roadways lined with fields and forest.  Because many of us have grown up in or around a town like it.

Kristan Higgans novels take place in New England- which is a real treat for me because that’s where I grew up.  I sink into the setting right away, thankful for the descriptions of fall foliage, small town restaurants, and coastal villages.

If you’ve ever read ‘Anna and the French Kiss’, then you’ve spent a semester abroad in Paris.  Stephanie Perkins setting descriptions were that good.  And I should know- because I actually did study two semesters in Paris and she made me feel like I was right back there.

Done right,  setting can have just  as much draw for the reader as the characters and their plight- pulling you further into the story than you ever thought possible.

What are some of your favorite ‘setting’ stories; Books that made you feel like you were really in the place described?  

35 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

It doesn't matter where it is, if it's done well, I'll love it. :)

Jessica Bell said...

Interesting you talk about setting today! In my post today I ask if you want to come to Arles with me to research the setting for my next book. hehe :o)

Creepy Query Girl said...

I saw that- that would be awesome! When are you planning on going?

Jen Daiker said...

Stephanie Perkins had me wanting to hop on a plane to Paris so I could bask in all it's beauty. Every word that fell on those pages left me dying for more. I had never read a book so delicious in setting!!!

Looks like I'm off to grab a few of the other novels... especially Kristan Higgins since I'm a sucker for fall foliage!

Sarah said...

I tend to read more about fictional settings, but regardless, good setting is part of building a world. Salman Rushdie's books (most of which are not YA/children's) were amazing for showing India and Pakistan, whether magical or real. Dia Reeves creates a very unique small town that I LOVED in Slice of Cherry.

Gina said...

Jackson Hole, Wyoming is on my wish list after reading Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.

Is that Uconn in that pic on the left with the church?

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I tend not to pay too much attention to settings, or maybe the books I read don't include much in the way of setting. Oh, that would explain why I don't do much with them in my writing, either (unless trying to convey emotion in the scene).

I used to LOVE reading historical romances. My favorite authors did an amazing job with setting. I felt like I was there. If it were hot and humid, I'd be sweating along with the characters. Oh, wait! That might have been because of the hot sex scene. Hmmm.

Jess said...

I'm with Jen--I'm going to have to pick up a Kristan Higgans book now! As for me, I like anything that makes you feel utterly sunk into the setting. I'm a sucker for Maeve Binchy's novels set in Ireland--whether it's urban Dublin or a rural country village, she nails voice and characters and setting.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Ken Oppel's steampunk series that starts with Airborn is one of my favorites for evoking a rich and complex setting -- actually, 3 separate settings for each of the books.

Old Kitty said...

Lord of the Rings really made me think I was in Middle Earth!! But not as a Sauron minion! Take care
x

Matthew MacNish said...

Well, Middle Earth, from LOTR, is my all time favorite setting, but Hogwart's is certainly a close second.

I love setting, especially when it comes so alive as to almost be another character. I try to do that in my own writing, but probably spend too much time on it.

Ricky Bush said...

The Louisiana Parish's in James Lee Burke's crime novel swamp me.

Jennifer said...

I totally agree! I have been known to choose a book on setting alone. I will read anything if it takes place somewhere awesome. Especially if it is set in Boston, Maine, or Nantucket......I have a New England obsession.

Johanna Garth said...

I love Colette's novels for that reason. On the opposite end of the spectrum. I just finished James Jaros, Burn Down the Sky which is dystopian end of the world and even though I can vividly picture the setting it's a place I wish I could forget!

Johanna Garth said...

I love Colette's novels for that reason. On the opposite end of the spectrum. I just finished James Jaros, Burn Down the Sky which is dystopian end of the world and even though I can vividly picture the setting it's a place I wish I could forget!

Johanna Garth said...

I love Colette's novels for that reason. On the opposite end of the spectrum. I just finished James Jaros, Burn Down the Sky which is dystopian end of the world and even though I can vividly picture the setting it's a place I wish I could forget!

Johanna Garth said...

I love Colette's novels for that reason. On the opposite end of the spectrum. I just finished James Jaros, Burn Down the Sky which is dystopian end of the world and even though I can vividly picture the setting it's a place I wish I could forget!

Johanna Garth said...

I love Colette's novels for that reason. On the opposite end of the spectrum. I just finished James Jaros, Burn Down the Sky which is dystopian end of the world and even though I can vividly picture the setting it's a place I wish I could forget!

Johanna Garth said...

OMG Katie! Sorry to have had my post repost over and over!! It's actually kind of funny in light of my own blog post today!!

Kelley said...

You're so right about Anna and the French Kiss. Normally, I only like heavy setting details when the where is just that important. Otherwise, I like bare bones so my imagination can go crazy. BUT, there are awesome exceptions, like you've already mentioned in Perkins and Harris

From your newest follower :)

Amber said...

I like my scenery light, but I did enjoy Queen of Shadows for its nicely placed references to Austin, where I went to school.

Shelley Sly said...

I love when the setting in a novel is just as alive as the characters. I know you mentioned Hogwarts, but I must say that I've always felt it was a real place, even before the theme park was built. ;)

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I LOVE a good setting :0)

Clara said...

I love good settings, but I gotta admit I'm more of a plot kindda gal.
However, "The name of the wind" has some very nice settings, that really drew me in : D

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke, was amazing when it comes to setting. I actually LONGED to be in there--to step inside the pages and never come out. :-)

I also love Nora Roberts's Irish trilogies--so good with setting.

Julie said...

You picked my favorites! Love them. And, as a result, added them to my 'must visit' places.

Sarah Pearson said...

It's entirely due to Stephen King that I want to live in New England :)

Dawn Ius said...

Oh...too many to name! Your post is actually a good reminder for my own work. Setting can sometimes be overlooked when I'm writing. Bad!

Carolyn V said...

I totally agree. The setting has to be good. They make a huge difference. I just finished a book where I had a hard time understanding the setting. The book was good, but I would have loved a little more of that.

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss katie! mostly i like animal books and i like when its a good setting so i could feel like im in the woods or in the sea. that rascal one you gave me is way good. im just learning how i could need to write a good setting for my stories.
...hugs from lenny

JEM said...

The Secret Garden for sure. I re-read that book the other day and I it made me wish I had my own rose-covered walled in garden. I would probably never leave, though. Probably why I don't have it.

LTM said...

I DID read Anna & the French Kiss, and I LOVED her setting descriptions. I thought they were the best part of the book... and I wondered if they would pass your test of accuracy! :D

In other news, hubs is from Ruston, La., so reading the Harris books was hilariously interesting to me. She's from Arkansas--not far from Ruston--so her descriptions are right on~

Yep, setting is a big part of my reading enjoyment, too.

Lydia K said...

Setting is so important. I find that Jennifer Donnelly does setting exceptionally well.

Have fun with your Friday's off!

Talli Roland said...

I adore books set in Italy or France! Setting really can pull you in for sure.

Steph said...

Recently I picked "The Half Life" off my shelf, randomly. It happens to be set in Oregon, where I have been spending nearly every long weekend for the past year. I think I was more intrigued with the setting than the story!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...