Top 10 Tuesdays: Favourite Book Settings

Settings prompts are always so difficult for me to answer since the setting is often one of the aspects that I pay the least attention to in a book. This week’s prompt was a little easier than usual though, since it was a bit more straightforward. Most times, settings prompts tend to involve questions like settings that you’d want to visit or live in, which is a huge challenge for me when I read a lot of thrillers with realistic settings, or fantasy which might have a very interesting setting, but often take place there at time where it would be dangerous or scary to be there. It can be hard for me to imagine what a fantasy setting might be like after the war, etc. is over unless the author goes that extra step to making it clear how it used to be or how it might change. I also tend to feel like the question of “fictional settings you’d like to visit/live in” gets a bit overdone. This time, however, I decided to shift focus a bit and pick more general settings that I tend to look for. Instead of thinking of settings that I liked from very specific books, I decided to think of the kinds of settings I tend to love. If anyone has any recommendations for books that might fit any of these settings, feel free to let me know!

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.

1) University or College – These kinds of settings are finally starting to become more common, after years of books that were mostly set in high school. I like reading about characters living on their own for the first time and trying to deal with things on their own, including academic pressure, friendships/relationships, and even mysteries or fantasy elements. I also love dark academia in general, so these settings are perfect for that.

2) Boarding Schools – Again, this fits right in with my love of dark academia and I also love the more isolated nature of having the characters away from home, with only their classmates and their teachers to help them. It gives the characters so much more freedom to do things without having to check in with their parents, come home for curfew, etc. The schools would have their own rules too, but most characters seem to be a lot more okay with breaking school rules than upsetting their families.

3) Magical Schools – This is no surprise given that Harry Potter is my favourite series, and it often goes hand-in-hand with boarding schools, although not always. I love the idea of characters being sent somewhere to learn more about their abilities and master their magic. Plus, it still has a lot of the things I love about boarding schools or university settings given that the characters are usually away from home.

4) Gothic Castle/Mansion/House – This one definitely comes from my love of The Addams Family, but I love creepy, atmospheric gothic settings. I’m thinking specifically of books like Rebecca, but there are many others as well. To a degree, I’d also include haunted houses in this one, especially books that kind of play with the idea of whether the house is really haunted or if it’s all in the characters’ heads.

5) Fantasy Kingdoms – I absolutely love books that focus on court politics, which is a little ironic because I’m not a fan of politics in general. I especially tend to love fantasy books that are set in kingdoms and focus on the dynamics between different rulers and places as well as the people in their courts. I think the ACOTAR series is probably the best example I can think of to explain what I mean.

6) Tudor England – Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve been obsessed with Tudor England and especially King Henry VIII. I think it’s because of the Royal Diaries book about Elizabeth, which was the first of many historical fictions that I read from this time period. Like fantasy kingdoms, this one plays right into my love of court politics and all the social dynamics of the time.

7) Far East Asia – I was thinking of China specifically, but I also tend to like books set in Japan. I haven’t read too many set in most other countries in this area. Actually, it’s not even a setting that I tend to pick up particularly often, but every time I do, I really enjoy it. These settings tend to be very descriptive and I love to read about the culture, food, and everything else that goes into building the settings. I think most of the books I’ve read with these setting have been historical, so it might be interesting to try some more contemporary books too.

8) Libraries or Bookstores – This seems like an obvious choice, but I tend to love books with characters who also love books, and libraries and bookstores are often the settings for these. Characters in these settings often tend to think or talk about why they love books, how important reading is to them, etc. which make them so relatable to me, and I also find it fun to imagine the kinds of bookstores or libraries that they may be in.

9) Victorian London – I wasn’t going to include this one at first because it felt a bit too similar to Tudor England even though they are very different time periods, but I really love Victorian-era London as a setting. I think this tends to go hand-in-hand with my love of gothic books, since that often seems to be a part of these settings and also my love of the social politics between the characters as they try to fit in with all the rules and expectations.

10) Real World with a Fantasy/Futuristic Twist – I was thinking specifically of urban fantasy at first, with books like the Mortal Instruments or even The Raven Boys, where characters live in the real world but there is something as bit different, often supernatural, about it. After thinking about it, I’d also extend that to a bit to futuristic settings with advanced technology, androids/robots, etc. Essentially, I like anything that gives a bit of a twist on the real world as we know it so it has that familiarity of being similar to our world, but with something a little more.


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