Saturday, August 28, 2010

Top Ten Literary Places to Visit

Once again, Amanda has inspired me to make another Top Ten List. (I always copy from her -- is this cheating?)  This was easy -- I just had to think about my favorite books.

Anyhoo, I've divided it up into fictional and real places.  I have another list of ten literary places I don't want to visit, but I'll save that for another day.

Fictional Places:

1.  Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  I'd love to go anywhere in the wizarding world, actually, as long as there are no Death Eaters or other minions of Voldemort.  Luckily, I'm planning a trip to Florida to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so that will have to do for now.  Only 88 days to go!

2.  The Land of Ingary to visit Howl's Moving Castle (from Diana Wynne Jones).  And not just because I have a huge crush on Wizard Howl.  The castle sounds amazing, it has doors on each side that lead to different worlds, including ours. And I'd love to meet Sophie!

3.  Bookworld, from Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.  How cool would it be to jump into a world where literary characters are real?  A must-read series for people who love literature.  It doesn't always make sense to me, but I love all the literary jokes -- my favorite is the bit where a piano ends up in Jane Austen's Emma by mistake.  Hilarious.

4.  Narnia, during the Golden Age, the reign of High King Peter and the royal Pevensie children.  Wouldn't it be amazing to live among magical people, unicorns, centaurs, and talking animals?  Almost as good as having magical powers.

5.  Cranford, England, the eponymous village created by Elizabeth Gaskell.  I'd give Miss Pole something to gossip about, and drink lots of tea with Miss Matty.

Real Places:

1.  Regency England.  Of course with my luck I'd be a cook or a maid, or a cranky old governess.  Actually, I'd really like to be an invisible time traveler, so I could see it all without having to explain who I was, like Amanda in Lost in Austen (a very cute movie if you like the Jane Austenish stuff).  Then I could travel back in time so I could enjoy modern conveniences and medical care.

2.  Cornwall, England.  Specifically, I want to visit Manderlay, or something like it, so I can wake up and say, "Last night, I dreamt I was at Manderlay again."  Just like Mrs. de Winter, but without the scary housekeeper in Rebecca.

2.  Gabarone, Botswana.  I've always wanted to see Africa, and after reading The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, I think Botswana would be an excellent choice.

4.  The Orient Express.  Someday, I'd love to take a long train ride, with a beautiful private compartment, lovely food, and gracious service.  I'm usually jammed in a tiny airplane seat with rude people and bad food.  I'd love to travel in style.  But without a murder, thank you very much.

5.  Provence in the south of France.  I loved Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence, wish I could go.  The French countryside, fresh farmer's markets, antiques, amazing food -- what's not to like?

I could go on and on, but for today, those are my top picks.  I'd love to hear where other book lovers want to go, and why.  Please let me know!


  1. Real and Not Real...I'm totally having a Mockingjay moment, but I'm not going to tell you why! ;P You'll understand soon enough. :D

    Seriously, though, I love the categories. I will read Howl's Moving Castle soon, I promise. This year. And Bookworld! Why didn't I think of that! Provence is lovely. I absolutely loved going there. Oh damn, I just realized I should have put Avignon and Prague on my list from Players in a Game. Crap!

  2. There are just too many places -- I also want to go to Italy, and New Zealand so I can see Middle Earth. . . and about a bajillion other places. But wouldn't it be fabulous to jump in and out of books, and meet the characters? Hilarious.

  3. Booksploring -- Chrestomanci would be cool too.

  4. Did you see David Suchet's recent voyage on the Orient Express? It cemented my conviction that I MUST ride that train before I die!

    I would definitely want to go to Bookworld but only if I get to spend a day with Havisham!

  5. We love to pass through Summertown in Oxford and spot the road with the hornbeam trees where Will finds his window into Cittagazze in Philip Pullman's The Subtle Knife (second book of the Dark Materials Trilogy) it somehow makes the book feel more real to know it is not an imaginary place, even though the story is. We also go to Will and Lyra's bench in the botanic gardens, also a real place.
    Lovely post, thanks for sharing

  6. I completely forgot about The Dark Materials! I still haven't read the second and third books (face reddens). I'd love to go to Oxford too -- so many great literary places in England. In Texas, not so many. Sigh.

  7. Kristen -- I haven't seen the David Suchet Orient Express, it is waiting on my DVR. I would love to meet the Bookworld Miss Havisham -- the Great Expectations Miss Havisham is a little scary.

  8. Definitely Narnia in the Golden Age (good clarification!). I'm currently rereading the entire series and I'm noticing how much the details of the landscape are actually described. With the maps in my illustrated copy, you can almost believe it's a real place.

  9. Thanks so much for putting Lunch in Paris on your reading list. Hope you enjoy it! We just made a move from Paris to Provence - when they cut the lavander fields, you can smell it for miles around... Hope you'll get to visit soon.

  10. Emilee -- I love the illustrations in the Narnia books. I've seen the maps and I think that adds so much to the stories, especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Horse and His Boy, when they do a lot of traveling.

    Lunch in Paris -- I did enjoy your book, and I'm so jealous that you get to live in France. There are so many places to visit in France I can hardly decide where to go next.

  11. I liked your list very much. I was an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford, the same college as both Philip Pullman and J.R.R. Tolkien. Jordan College in His Dark Materials was loosely based on Exeter. I have also drunk too many beers in the Eagle and Child, where Tolkien, CS Lewis and the other Inklings gathered.

    I've been lucky enough to travel to a number of my favorite literary locations but would dearly love to visit Key West and Havana in the time of Hemingway. Of fictional locations, the Wales and Cornwall of Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence (a brilliant YA series) would be on the lsit as well as Middle Earth, Narnia and Earthsea.

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post the other night just before going to bed, but I heard the clock strike 2a.m. - I couldn't stop thinking of the places I would like to visit. I'm waiting for a "Beam me up Scottie" transporter to be invented! I could cope with The Orient Express though.

  13. Falaise -- you are sooo lucky! I'm dying to go on a literary tour of Britain. I could spend weeks, probably months visiting all the great places. But I have been to Hemingway's Key West house -- it was years ago before I'd even read any of his books, and it was still really interesting. There's all these six-toed cats living on the property which are descended from his own cats. It's very cool. Unfortunately the Hemingway museum in Havana caught fire a couple of years ago and a lot of artifacts were lost, so sad.

    Katrina-- I'm sorry you lost sleep over this! I'd love to be transported like in Star Trek. Now you've got me thinking about all the places from TV and movies I'd like to visit also. That would be another long post!

  14. I was thinking about inhabited worlds in science fiction novels--the one I'd most like to visit is the ocean moon, Shora, from Joan Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean.

    I wanted to go to Provence, but didn't end up having the kind of time you need to really explore it or the language skills necessary. We went up into the hills from Nice and saw a little bit of the area to which Peter Mayle refers when he says it's the part of Provence that people from the Riviera come up to see, and we saw lavender fields from the TGV between Paris and Nice.

  15. If anyone would have told me how enchating Provence would be I would have shook my head in disbelief. But my wife and I,( both unabashed Mayle fans ),rented a house in Menerbes and spent a couple of weeks wandering this little slice of heaven. Imagine our surprise and joy when we discovered Le Galboret, a small hole in the wall resturant four minuted from our door which has to rank among the finest I have ever tried. (the coustard de escargot, escargot in a lemon creme sauce wrapped in a feather-light puff pastry was just the beginning) Provence is a must for gastronomes and general lovers of life. We both speak passable French, which is a help in the smaller villages, but after a greeting and a few exchanged words most locals will shift to English and apologize for their lack of skill. We found the locals gracious and willing to meet you halfway. Don't hesitate..GO

  16. Hi Karen, I'm a bit late to this but it's a topic I'm passionate about. Just posted about my visit to Harry Potter's Scotland at Agree Middle Earth would be a great place to visit

  17. I've been wanting to read the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency many books on my TBR list. If you unfurled it in a north-south direction, starting from the upper Midwest, it'll have crossed the border into Argentina by now XD

    I'd love to visit Luster, from Bruce Coville's Unicorn Chronicles quartet. Obviously to hang out with the unicorns, but I'd also go visit those mermaids they mentioned in Book's great that we have those handy maps at the beginning of Books 3 and 4 :) Oh, and if he'd let me, I'd of course spend a lot of time in Grimwold's Story Room, reading all the stories Coville didn't tell us :-D

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