1. Where Things Come Back
John Corey Whaley
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
(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
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.
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.
(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
There is nothing I can say about this book or its setting to do it justice. It is incredible.
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
(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
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.