Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Discussion: fravorite city-settings in books

Hey guys!

I'm ashamed of the lack of original content on the blog lately .___. I don't even have a good explanation or excuse. I'm just... not really feeling it at the moment and the thought of writing a review gives me an anxiety attack. So I just... read like a maniac. And the books pile up. Hah. Not very productive but I can't not read.

Anyway, since I still couldn't bring myself to review any of the great books I've read lately (doing them justice makes me nervous) I thought of something I'd like to discuss.

Cities I love as settings for books

I grew up in a village of 700 people but since my mid-teens, I've wanted to live in a big city, so when I was 21 I moved to Zurich (biggest city in the country). I love to read about cities. They have so many different places where things can happen and where different types of people converge. There's this sense of energy and possibility. Every city has its own vibe and I think that also flows into the setting of a book.

I've never been to the US, so whenever a book is set in Europe for once, that already makes me want to read it. If it's by a US author and/or if the characters in the book are from the US and traveling to Europe, it's also interesting to see how someone from there sees my continent. One example for that is Just One Day by Gayle Forman.

Other of my favorite European settings are London (because I've been there so when the characters go to certain places, I know what it all looks like and where they are, which is cool and unusual for me) and Prague. I finally got to Prague last summer and that resulted in me being even more into it as a setting. There's just something so old about it, and it has a history of magic and alchemy that I find very appealing. Examples: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, City of Dark Magic, The Book of Blood and Shadows. (I feel like I'm forgetting some...). For London there are just too many to count. Some of my faves: The Infernal Devices trilogy, Kate Griffin's Urban Magic series, Soulless, ACID, Neverwhere, Mrs Dalloway, the Black Butler manga. Feel free to share your own faves!

Other cities I enjoy reading about are Venice and Paris. They give off this romantic or seductive vibe and I especially love them for historical novels, for instance Venom by Fiona Paul. And there's of course Dublin! I love it as the setting for Karen Marie Moning's Fever series.

As for American cities, I like New York as a setting because that city is just so big and full of possibilites, but it can also really drag you down. I'm not such a big fan of an L.A. setting though I'm actually not quite sure why. I'd LOVE to read more books, especially YA ones, set in San Franscisco! I have a big fascination with that city and feel drawn to it, but I've only read very few books set there. So if you have recommendations, bring them on! As soon as I hear about one, especially with a paranormal element, it goes on my TBR automatically. Another city I really enjoy reading about is New Orleans. I love Kelly Keaton's Gods and Monsters series, where she creates her own unique version of the city, and I also love Poppy Z. Brite's books, many of which are set there. And of course there's Anne Rice.

But really, if the author can make me feel like I'm 'there' I can enjoy pretty much any city as a setting. It just has to set the right mood for the story, in my opinion. What I haven't touched on here are made-up cities. There are many of those I love but that would make this topic too vast for me right now... feel free to point some out to me though!

EDIT: Epic fail!! I forgot Tokyo, or Japan in genral. I haven't read all that many books set there (a couple by a Swiss author, Federica de Cesco, as well as Ink by Amanda Sun and the Across the Nightingale Floor books, which were inspired by Japan), it was mostly manga, but I'd looove to read more stories set in Tokyo! Could be historical or contemporary, fantasy or not, I don't care! If you have recommendations, please share :)

So what are some of your favorite city-settings for novels? Are there any that catapult an upcoming book to your insta-buy list? Are there any you really dislike reading about? Or does it not matter to you at all what city a story is set in? If so, I'm interested to hear why!


  1. I for one like reading books that take place in Canada only because it seems so rare (the books I write always take place here because I want Canada to get the attention when i get published ;)) I also love diving into foreign countries through books. London, Paris, anything like those I love to read about. I still have to read Just One Day (sitting on my bookshelf as we speak) but I just finished Anna and the French Kiss and that made me fall in love with Paris more so than I already am! Made up cities are pretty cool too, or alternate cities like dystopian reads always capture my attention. I like to see what authors can do with a landscape some of us know so well.

    1. I loved Anna and the French Kiss as well! Made me want to go back to Paris :)
      It's true, I haven't read all too many books set in Canada. Tanya Huff's vampire series (from the 90s, I think) is set in Toronto though and I really liked that one, and the spin-off about one of the minor characters.
      I'd love to read stories set in Zurich/Switzerland but they are always by Swiss authors, which means it's in German and usually either Literary or Crime fiction, neither of which I much enjoy (I like Literary books but not in German, with a couple exceptions (Kafka, Hesse, Schiller)).
      I have vague ideas about a Steampunk story I want to set in Zurich at the turn of the 20th century but I'd have to put in a shitload of research and I'd like to co-write it with someone.
      Thanks for commenting, and you really should read Just One Day, it made me an instant fan of Gayle Forman and led to me going on a bender and reading 3 of her books in less than a week ^^''

  2. Yes, I love Prague as a setting, too! The Book of Blood and Shadow is set there, but it's the Daughter of Smoke and Bone that made me love it. I'd love to find more books set in Japan (though I still need to read Ink) and I love books set in London, Paris, etc. Awesome post! :)

    Sara at The Page Sage

    1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is sooo good! I thought of it often when I walked through the old part of the city :) I also need to find more books with a Japanese setting. I'm just always a little wary about how they'll represent the culture...

  3. I'm a lot like you; never been in the US, but love reading books set in there. Some of my favorite cites are New Orleans, NY, Boston, Seattle and Albuquerque. I also love books set in Asia, but I prefer those books that are written by Asian writers. And who doesn't <333 London and Paris?

    1. I love New Orleans as a setting! Have you read any of Poppy Z. Brite's books? They might be your thing... many of them have GLBT characters.
      Can recommend any books by Asian writers that have been translated? And are maybe YA or fantasy-ish or otherwise awesome? Because I'd like to read more but I don't know what/who is good...

  4. Poppy Z. Brite, Poppy Z. Brite... the name does sound familiar but I don't think I've read anything by her...I'll have to "research" her :)
    re: translated Asian(Japanese) writers: Banana Yoshimoto, Keigo Higashino, Natsuo Kirino are all authors I love. I also loved The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. Then there is of course Haruki Murakami, but I don't like his writing style... Oh, and half of my TTT post is about books set in Japan, so feel free to check that out as well :)

    1. Poppy is awesome! I only know her early work, but Lost Souls and Drawing Blood were just soooo good! I want to re-read Drawing Blood soon.
      Thanks so much for your recommendations! I know of Natsuo Kirino and what some of her books are about, but I haven't read her yet. I'll definitely check out the others!
      I cracked open Murakami at the library once and read a couple pages, but it wasn't really my thing either.
      Now I'll go read that TTT post :)

  5. I am also failing big time at original content these days :( I think it's mostly the Summer weather thing (or I hope) so I'm thinking I'll get back on track in the Fall...Anyways, I adore this discussion topic!! And of course I LOVED all the settings you picked! Starting with London and Prague ♥♥ BOTH dream destinations for me, London because of Harry Potter, Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock but also for Doctor Who hehe *sigh* and Prague for Pragues' sake of course but also for Daughter of Smoke & Bone :D

    I agree with you about Paris of course, but I'd be happy with southern France too like Provence ♥ And a BIG YES for Venice too, it's sooo ambient and dreamy! I never was one to get really into New York settings before, but now that I've been I really enjoy it - especially 1920's New York though, because of Born of Illusion and certain episodes of Doctor Who set in that period hehe :-$ I don't like L.A. either but I think it's because it seems less magical and more...plastical haha ­>.<

    Since I'm Canadian though and specifically from the Maritimes, I loved reading Anne of Green Gables! The scenery described and the turn of the century time period were really enchanting. I adore Japanese and Tokyo settings too since my Sailor Moon days but Cinder reinforced it even more! Personally, I'd love to see more Arctic settings because of His Dark Materials and the Northern Lights in general of course. I think stories in South America, Africa and India would be cool too! Whew, I've babbled on here so I'll stop now! XD

    1. I also think that the weather plays into it! Also I'm around my sister all the time now that I live at my parents' again and I just talk to her or we watch movies/series together, so there's less time for blogging/internet.
      I don't think I've read anything set in southern France but I loved the landscape in the movies for Chocolat (with Johnny Depp) and The Perfume (after the novel by Patrick Suesskind).
      I really need to buy&read Born of Illusion! Thanks for remdinding me ;) Your remark about L.A. made me laugh XD

      I've never read Anne of Green Gables. It's an classic for English-speaking people I guess, but we have other children's books here. So I've never read anything by Seuss or Dahl or the Wizard of Oz ^^'' I think I've read a couple books set in Canada though, but the titles won't come to me just now.

      Cinder is set in TOKYO?!?! Why did nobody tell me?! That's what it took for me to really make it a priority to finally read that book! Oh and I had no idea that you were into Sailor Moon too!! :D I was all over it as a kid and watched all the anime episoes on German TV!
      I also loved the arctic setting for His Dark Materials! The northern light scenes were amazing, I still remember that the witches can feel the lights on their skin.

      I love your long comments, so don't cut yourself short for my sake ;) I read a great book set in the Amazonas region once. It was YA and by Isabel Allende. I read it in German when I was 14 or 15 but I think it's this one.