Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Setting...Does It Matter to You?

I know I don't post discussions as often as I used to, mainly because I've been too caught up in my in-class discussions to consider them here. However, the other day as I drove home from work, I found myself thinking about the books I had on hold and a trend I see popping up lately...setting. I think that many of us as readers enjoy certain genres and authors, so maybe we also tend to look for reading material in certain settings as well?

This past week I finished reading The Last War by Ana Menendez (review coming), and I haven't been able to shake Istanbul out of my head. Several years ago, I had a chance to travel there with my good friend Doc, and it really impacted the way I look at the world. It's an amazing city, filled with history and contemporary charm alike. There just seems to be this "vibe" that you get from a location that resonates with you, and for me, Istanbul still lingers with me. Having said that, I have a few more books that I'm in the process of reading to get a bit more of an Istanbul "fix" for the moment. These are the ones that I already own, and have started.

Two years ago, I also read The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne. It's not set in Istanbul, but it is set in Turkey. It was an amazing read, and one that I still cherish.

I know that Orhan Pamuk writes books set in Istanbul and Turkey, but I'm also looking for other great books and novels set in Istanbul. Here are a few I've run down.

Along this line, I found a couple of novels that are set close to this region, that look really good. Although they are not set in Istanbul or Turkey, they come highly recommended, and have also caught my attention. The first is set in Cairo, and the second in the Palestine/Beirut region. Both look like very engaging stories.

In a sense, I think I'm finding myself attracted to regions, themes, and peoples that come from the region of Turkey and the Middle East. I realize this is a popular region for many readers, thanks to the political climate of our world, and the importance of many of these countries on our world stage. In essence, I wish I could escape to these places, to explore and learn more about the people; I want to hear and know their wishes and desires, and to understand why. Thankfully, since my wallet is limited in the bills I would need to travel to these places, I have books to help me cover the distance.

How about in your own reading? What settings are you attracted to? Mine shifts and changes, but are you interested in a particular region that keeps you coming back for more?


  1. I love Paris. Mostly because like you with Istanbul, I traveled to Paris and just really connected with the place. So I love reading books set there, but mostly I just love everything about it in general.

  2. I also found myself really attracted to Istanbul after reading Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk. (My review here, if you don't mind my pointing you to it.) I loved it, and am definitely wanting to read more books set there. Thanks for bringing so many up! I am actually mid way through The Yacoubian Building right now, it is really good, though I am not as attracted to Cairo as I was to Istanbul.

  3. I've wanted to read Istanbul by Orphan Pamuk, as well as Snow, for some time now. I think many bookbloggers are attracted to books from the Middle East, and I'm no exception. I do not yet have a favourite city though.

  4. Great topic! I don't purposely look for books with certain locales, however I do notice several that tend to take place in or around my home state...funny how that comes out when you really think about it. Thanks for sharing and happy reading!

  5. I am so jealous you got to go to Istanbul! That's awesome. Did you see the Hagia Sophia?

    I like books about 19th-Century Paris, and I love books set in Venice. I actually just checked out about a dozen books that are set there.

  6. Interesting question. To me, it doesn't really matter that much as long as the author makes his/her setting come alive. That being said, I always enjoy reading books set in places I've lived - I can SEE everything more clearly because I've actually SEEN it, you know?

    I don't think I've ever read a book set in Istanbul. I'll have to check out some of your recommendations.

  7. I don't have any specific locations that I strictly read, but I will say that there is one that I will really never turn down . . . China! I find the history that is so often embedded in the fiction is so intriguing to me! I have never been and someday I hope to go, but until then, I just live through the books I read!! :)

    Great discussion post!!!

  8. I love fiction that is set in the UK or the US. It sounds very typical but when you consider I am from Australia, imagining the UK or the US is like a little, mental holiday for me :)

    ...also I am not a fan of Australian fiction. Bores me to tears.