Friday, January 11, 2013

Favorite Settings (non-fantasy)

Back in November of 2012 (remember that far?) Stacked did a week on Contemporary YA. Molly Backes wrote a post on the importance of setting during that week. It was followed by a post with a list of Contemporary YA with stellar settings. This had me thinking about the subject of setting, which honestly I give little thought to. I am a character then plot girl. Setting is seemingly less important, yet when it is done wrong it screams out at you. Likewise when it is done right it can entice you. The best authors will make you want to go where there book takes place. I wrote a My Favorite Things post on Fantasy Worlds a long time ago. I figured realistic fiction settings that inspire should get the same treatment. Why is it two months after the inspiring post from Stacked? I already had all my Favorite Things posts scheduled for 2012. Better late than never right?

These are in no particular order.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
As Ed and Lucy dash all over Melbourne, Australia looking at the graffiti left by artist Shadow the city becomes almost as important a character as the two of them.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Who hasn't read the Anne books and then immediately begun dreaming of visiting Prince Edward Island? PEI is just as important to the story as Anne herself and Montgomery did a fabulous job bringing it to life.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Not everyone who reads this book loves Dash and Lily. They are kind of annoying at times and both are, in their own ways, posers. But I think anyone who has read this would agree the star of the book is New York City.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Paris was my favorite part of this book, I'm not going to lie. Perkins did a wonderful job describing it and how intimidating it can be to newcomers.

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck
This book has so many strengths and the setting is definitely one of them. While reading this book you feel like you are there, that you know that town and those fields and those houses. And you feel the time period in a way most historical fiction doesn't come close to achieving.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
I love how Stead puts so much detail of the neighborhood into the book. She gives Brooklyn the feel of a small town, and shows it has a real sense of community.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
And by Penderwicks I refer to the all three books as yet written in the series, because no matter where they are, Arundel, Gardam Street, or Point Mouette, you feel like you are right there with them.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
London, England, my favorite city in the world. (That I've been to so far.) Morill did a great job of it and not in a cheesy or touristy way. This book would not have captured my heart like it did had she gotten this part wrong.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Middle School. No one's favorite place to remember, and Angleberger captures it perfectly. So perfectly those who are out of it will cringe remembering and those who are still in the trenches there will hug the book to them happy to have someone who understands their plight.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Lai brings the beauty of Vietnam to life with her spare prose in this book, both in her descriptions and the comparison to Alabama.

To see a combined Fantasy and Realistic Fiction list of favorites setting see this Pinterest board.

What are some books that take you love the setting of ?


Charlotte said...

Elizabeth Enright's two series are both favorites of mine, likewise just about every setting Elizabeth Goudge ever wrote!

(Meant to Be just came in for me at the library--am looking forward to it!)

Brandy said...

You know I still haven't read Enright and Goudge.

I sometimes ponder what these lists say about me and this one clearly screams, "Modern big city girl!" Which is spot on accurate.

Maureen E said...

BRANDY. *is shocked* Enright in particular is just AMAZING.

Brandy said...

I KNOW. When I was a kid I had no interest in Gone Away Lake because it had too much nature on the cover. I've never been able to shake that. (I'm telling you less grass, trees, dirt, etc. the happier I am. I was that way as a kid too. I know. I'm an abomination. ♥) I didn't know about the Melendy books until I became a teacher and they have always struck me as a little precious. So it's hard to work up the enthusiasm. I will try.

Charlotte said...

Don't try, DO! You could start with Four Story Mistake, which is where I did....

And with Goudge you could start with Linnets and Valerians, or the Little White Horse which Bit would love love love (going on the strengh of my own undying love for it at her age)

Brandy said...

Okay Charlotte, if you are that insistent than they MUST be good. I will do. :)

Heidi said...

I've been meaning to do a favorite settings post as well! I love them so much, and yours is no exception. Of COURSE PEI would be on my list--I want to go there so badly. It seems that I read a stack of books after moving to New York that take place in the city (including Dash & Lily), and now that I know the city well enough, I love feeling on the inside when authors describe it. I think my favorite setting last year was from The Miseducation of Cameron Post, mostly because her small town Montana setting closely mirrored my own childhood in small town Wyoming and made me feel right at home. =)

Brandy said...

I love it when authors actually make you feel like you are in a place.

Christina said...

Oooh, I like this idea a lot. Fantasy world building is so much more in your face that it can be easy to forget that a lot can go into making a PLACE in contemporary too.

One I loved recently for setting was Moonglass by Jessi Kirby.

My very favorite setting in contemporary (ish) fiction is Sarah Addison Allen's books. They've got magical realism, but they're still more contemporary than fantasy. I want to live in that world.

Beth said...


I just read Return to Gone Away this weekend and it was fantabulous. You MUST read the two books.

They're not about grass and trees and dirt. They're about family and history. They're GREAT.

Brandy said...

Yes! This is it exactly. I'm guilty of overlooking it so often.

I don't love Sarah Addison Allen's books. They're just not my thing, but I agree that she does setting incredibly well. As I have lived in southern Appalachia for much of my adult life I can say she clearly gets it.

Brandy said...

Haha. As an adult I realize this but it has been harder getting rid of the reaction I've always had to the prospect of reading it. I WILL DO IT.