Anywhere but here: what book or story would you like to inhabit?

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Literary Blog Hop

Wow! So excited that this week’s blog hop from The Blue Bookcase is my question! Which kind of makes me think I should have had an answer prepared, but, alas, no. And truthfully, as soon as I thought of this question and sent if off, I thought to myself, you know, I don’t know how to answer that.

So the question is: “What setting (time or place) from a book or story would you most like to visit? Eudora Welty said that, “Being shown how to locate, to place, any account is what does most toward making us believe it…,” so in what location would you most like to hang out?” Really, I just love that quote from Eudora Welty.

I often read historical novels and think to myself, especially as a woman, thank god I wasn’t alive then. And then a lot of science fiction novels are dystopian, not utopian, so you don’t want to go there (and even the utopias are often really dystopias disguised as utopias). I was into a lot of post-apocalpytic novels for a while, their own brand of dystopia, but no one wants to be in The Road or Far North.

Me in India, at Mahabalipuram

But there are a few places that when I read about them in novels I think, I want to be there. The first is India, even when it’s not so good. A Fine Balance is the book that made me want to go to India, and a whole lot of not good things happen there. I think reading that book just opened my eyes to a whole new world and a history of which I knew nothing. And then I did go to India, and now when I read novels set in India, I just want to go back. When I read books like A Suitable Boy and Sacred Games, I still want to be there. It seems the thing about reading about a place and then going there is that the reading shapes your experience of that place. In fact, when I travel one of my favorite things to do is to go to places that have been the setting for novels that I’ve read.

I think the other place I read about and long to be is Italy (there’s something about places that start with ‘I’). I like the Italy in Patricia Highsmith’s Mr. Ripley books (yes, the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley is based on a series of novels, and they’re even creepier than the movie) or in A Room with a View. It seems in novels like these that Italy represents something, a kind of sensuality and escape. That may be what the two places I would like to inhabit have in common besides beginning with the letter ‘I.’ They often seem to represent the warm, exotic escape from normal life in the literary imagination.

What story would youl like to jump into?


  1. What a cool post!! I liked reading it — and it made me think that I always think of fantasy places, like Narnia, or even a world like the one we live in, but where there is magic. 🙂

  2. Great question. I read to escape, so I'm always half living in the world I'm reading about. But it's generally a lot safer in my chair!

  3. I don't know how to answer this question either. On a somewhat related note…I was trying to explain to a friend today why I could never read a book on a Kindle. I have tried so I am well aware of the features, etc. My home library is vast and varied. If I really like a book I need to own it. I sometimes find myself pulling a favorite from the shelf and just placing on the coffee table for the weekend. By simply seeing the book I am reminded of the characters and plot (some would argue that the books I like have no real plots)and I spend the weekend with them. I don't reread it. I just live with it again. I also have a large collection of biographies of entertainers, directors, and authors. I may be watching, say, a film directed by Stanley Kramer and almost without thinking will pull the biography of Stanley Kramer from the shelf and set it beside me on the sofa. I may or may not refer to it. I liken this activity to when a child ties a towel around his neck while watching Superman. Books are my heroes.

  4. I had the same thought about historical fiction! I got around it by wishing to be on a fictional world. I wish I had thought about India or Italy. What wonderful places to visit. Besides, they both have great food, and that's reason enough for me!

  5. Interesting thoughts about historical fiction. When I'm deep in a historical book, I do want to be there, even when I know the disadvantages would be difficult.

  6. Jo, the magic/fantasy places didn't occur to me until I read other folks' posts, and then I thought, of course, Harry Potter! Who wouldn't want to ride a broomstick?

    Susan, it is so sad when you're reading a very good book and it's about to end, and you know you have to come back to the real world.

    Randy, what a great metaphor…the Superman cape. Yeh, I have not been at all tempted by the Kindle or Nook. I feel the technology of the book has worked this long, I'm just not willing to make that leap. And there's something about holding a book in your hand that the Kindle doesn't do. I get a lot of books from the library, but then if I really like them, I buy them, so I'm working towards a shelf that's like a distilled collection of my very favorite books. I like the idea of taking them off the shelf every now and then and just kind of hanging out with them.

    Emily, yes, the food alone in Italy and India are enough to make the trip.

    Amy, historical fiction always makes me wonder how I would be different if I were living in that time period. Would I be at all the same person?

  7. Nothing like the present times for me! And would love to visit each and every part of the world..

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop: Setting (time or place) post!

  8. Sounds Ideal, obviously your degree of pleasure in the setting would vary dependant on your status & gender

  9. gautami tripathy, thanks for hopping by. I certainly can't complain about the present.

    parrish lantern, I guess I could decide to change my gender or status and visit wherever, but it didn't really occur to me.

  10. I also like dystopia but wouldn't want to be in any of those worlds!

    Have you considered Iceland, as another “I”-land? I went there once and thought it was great.

    My own answer for this week's question starts with an “A”.

  11. leeswammes, I have a friend from graduate school who's from Iceland and, not surprisingly, she always had good things to say about it. Right now, Italy and India sound much warmer!

  12. I'd love to inhabit the world of Harry Potter. I'd also like to travel back to the time of Little House on the Prairie. I don't know that I'd want to live that hard a life, but it's such a fascinating period and location.

  13. CONGRATS on your question being chosen….love your blog.

    Great choice….true about not being a woman in some time periods……stopping by ALL the blogs to read all these great answers.

    Stop by my blog to see my answer.

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