Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Ten - The Best Settings

This week's topic from The Broke and the Bookish is settings in books. Real or imagined (or just settings you'd love to see in a book), the theme is a little bit wide open this week so I'm going to narrow it down for myself. I'll be sharing with you ten books with the best settings -- ones that contribute largely to the greatness of the book, places or cultures I want to revisit again and again in book form.

1. Where Things Come Back
John Corey Whaley
(Lily, Arkansas)
With sparse details this book sets up one of the most atmospheric and real towns in literature. Lily is small, stifling, and the sort of town where everyone longs to get out but most eventually come back. The people in it remind me so much of my hometown that I grew up in and maybe this is part of the reason that I love it so much and find it so true to life.

2. Where She Went
Gayle Forman
(New York City, New York)
I could talk forever about how brilliant and beautiful and emotional this book is and the setting definitely plays a role in that. This book shies away from showing NYC as the huge and glittering city that many books portray it as -- instead it shows a sadder, more understated and almost forgotten side of the city that fits in perfectly with Adam and Mia's story. And I love it I love it I love it.

3. Gone With the Wind
Margaret Mitchell
(the South)
This is one of those books where the story is the setting. The characters and plot are who and what they are because of the place and I think a lot of times this is true in life. I would not be who I am today if I hadn't come from the place I came from. The story of my life would take a different path if different places were involved. This is, to my mind, the most extreme and honest and brutal portrayal of setting as story. And as this is my favorite novel ever, you can bet that I absolutely adore the setting and its role.

4. Sea
Heidi R. Kling
Anyone who has read Sea can attest to what a huge role the setting plays. As in Gone With the Wind, the setting kind of is the story -- not just Indonesia itself, but also the ocean and the orphanage that Sienna and her father are working at. The setting is wonderfully incorporated here.

5. Gadget
Paul Zindel
(Los Alamos, New Mexico)
I have a soft spot for this book because it was the first one I ever forced my dad to read. Set on a military base in New Mexico, the story takes place during the development and testing of the atom bomb. And it's freaking brilliant. So eerie and creepy and ominous. The setting plays out perfectly.

6. Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
There is nothing I can say about this book or its setting to do it justice. It is incredible.

7. Peaches
Jodi Lynn Anderson
It's been a long time since I've read this series but one thing I distinctly remember is that I completely loved these books. And a big part of the reason was what a big part setting -- all of the various settings, not only Birdie's peach orchard -- played in them. As you might tell from this list, I'm a big fan of southern and small town settings and this knocks both requirements off the list. If you haven't read these books yet or you were too busy reading the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when they came out, you should definitely put them on your list.

8. The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading
Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance
(High School - Geeks and Cheerleaders)
It's rare for a book to pull of the high school setting as well as this one does but from the very first page of this novel there is such authenticity to both the geeks and the cheerleaders in this book that I absolutely fell in love. Seriously.

9. What Happens Here
Tara Altebrando
(Las Vegas, Nevada)
I know that Altebrando's newest novel (Dreamland Social Club) is getting attention for being incredibly setting-heavy, but for me this earlier novel is so much stronger and the setting is just as wonderful. Set in the mostly-fake Las Vegas, this mystery-slash-grief-novel is so much more than it at first appears and the setting is just incredible and ties in so greatly to the story as a whole.

10. Tweet Heart
Elizabeth Rudnick
This is only the second novel on this lists with a largely-cultural (as opposed to geographic) setting and it's so cute, so wonderful, so perfect for the story that I can't not mention it. I'd been waiting for a Twitter-based book for quite a while and this one is all kinds of adorable. I love it.


  1. Oh you've really made me want to read Tweet Heart now, it sounds cute and interesting! Off to try and track it down!

  2. I chose settings that made the book, too. Now I want to go back and do another list of my favorite settings....

    Here's my list of Top Ten Settings in Books. I hope you will stop by and visit!

  3. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS was definitely a great place to set a book. Even though I didn't love Paris when I visited, this book made me want to give it another chance.

  4. I've never seen Where Things Come Back. It looks like an interesting book. This is why I love Top Ten Tuesday.

    Check out my list here

  5. I completely agree, Gone With The Wind has a fantastic setting which is very integral to the book. I think it's a big part of why people fall in love with the story.