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Booking Through Other Worlds

btt button
Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live? Or where you certainly would NOT want to live? What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life? (This came to me when reviewing a Jonathan Carroll book – I’m not sure I’d like to live in the worlds of his books.)

Places To Be
This question permits so much room for imagination and socio-cultural context. Albeit not a fan of Harry Potter (I read the first five of the series), I fancy the the Wizarding world of Harry Potter that exists alongside that of the real world and contains magical elements similar to things in the non-magical world. Many of its institutions and locations are in towns and cities which are recognizable in the real world, such as London. The Hogwarts castle and yard seem like a great place to read!

The mysterious snow-covered, secluded Shangri-la where four passengers on a plane landed in James Hilton’s The Lost Horiazon is supposed to be the region between Tibet and the Chinese southwestern province of Yunnan. Whether people really would not age or not, as the legends have it, I still want to live there, for the beautiful mountain ranges. 16th Century Rome and Florence as depicted so vividly in Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, and Venice in Colm Toibin’s The Master, a biographical novel of Henry James would be the other destinations. Eileen Chang’s Shanghai–the ceded French quarters, as seen in Lust, Caution is always somewhere I long to be. Chang was privileged to grow up under this aura of new materialism. Captured in her quick-witted and acrimonious writings are what at the time impinged and threatened to subvert traditions and values of Old China.

Places Not To Be
Republic of Gilead in Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, where a totalitarian regime robs women of their humanity. The authority, in contrivance to raise a brand new generation of humans, has overlooked love. Along the same note, the futuristic authoritarian regime in the year 1984 in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in which an all-knowing government which uses pervasive and constant surveillance of the populace, insidious and blatant propaganda, and brutal control over its citizens.


23 Responses

  1. I’m halfway through The Handmaid’s Tale , and though I’m completely appalled by the circumstances, I’m in awe of Atwood’s ability to create such a fully realized world. It’s frighteningly possible.

  2. “The Hogwarts castle and yard seem like a great place to read” with the whizzing of the brooms?

  3. I love the Hogwarts of the HP movies- I’ll admit I haven’t read the books!
    This was a toughie for me because I don’t really read fantasy. The republic of Gilead was postiively nightmarish but then again Margaret Atwood made *Canada* seem menacing in The Blind Assassin, too! 🙂

  4. i think we just commented on each other’s blogs at exactly the same time 🙂

  5. Eloquent as always!

    I chose a 16th century Venice setting as well. Actually, I’d go to Venice in ANY period. Va Bene!

  6. Like the “no love” theme you’ve mentioned as being present in The Handmaid’s Tale (I apologize for the lack of italics or underlining for the book title…. my lack of tech-savyness strikes again!), Frank Herbert’s Dune books have a similar set-up. Practically all of the main power-holding groups frown on any sort of emotion, love in particular…. (I wonder, does that say something about power? To have power, do you have to give up love, like marrying for alliances and joining social circles simply for the rank of its members?)

  7. The imaginary world of Jane Austen would be a lovely place to visit, or at least observe from an obscure corner, especially if I had access to a time portal that would allow me to pass in and out at will. I think I might enjoy one of those lovely balls, as long as I had adequate instruction in advance. I think I would be afraid of the refreshments, but the music I could definitely deal with and in some cases I could actually hum along. I’m not sure any of her interesting characters would have much of a tolerance of my vulgar manners or speech, though they might be amused by an American provincial. The dystopia of Huxley’s Brave New World is definitely a place I would wish to avoid, nor would I wish to visit England or the Continent in the time frame of Ian McEwan’s Atonement. I’d be mighty flattered if E. M. Forster took an interest in me as a character. But he probably wouldn’t.

  8. Hogwarts has great appeal to me.

  9. I’ll go to the Antarctica for a few hours and eat pemmican with Shackleton. (Ok, it’s non-fiction but in the past)

    The heat index in New Orleans was 107 yesterday

  10. We may not run into each other in our places to go, but we’re in complete agreement of places to avoid!

  11. For Places Not To Be, after reading Kipling’s Mark of the Beast, I think India’s out of the question for me.

  12. That reminds me, I need to re-read The Lost Horizon.

    Here is my BTT post

  13. readerville:
    That’s the most chilling and shuddering thing about Handmaid’s Tale. This *can* happen in this world.

  14. Sally:
    Minus the whizzing brooms and the matches. 🙂

    Sci fi is what comes off my head when I read the question. But like you, I’m not a sci fi person. Hogwarts seems very romantic to me! I’ve always like Canada–seems like the perfect place to retire. 🙂

  15. Karen:
    I just wish to drop everything and travel to Italy. I thought about the Rick Steves tour but with the dollar’s being so crumby, I don’t think the trip with come to fruition soon.

  16. thesixteenthzephyr:
    Marry out of convenience, marry for money–these are very popular themes in centuries of literature. I do believe in true love, unconditional love, but like anything in life, there is a price.

    Greg S:
    Brave New World is another Orwellian sphere that I would avoid. I don’t mind having a portal to the world of Henry James and attend the mazuka in Tolstoy’s ball. I’m not sure about meeting Woland in Apt 50 of Master and Margarita, but I would love to walk around Moscow at that time period. 🙂

  17. Bluestocking:
    Hogwarts is romantic. The castle seems like a great place to read.

    Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, which is quite popular recently, takes place in snow-covered Norway. My friend took a cruiseliner from Oslo and headed out to Antarctica. I so envy her! 🙂

  18. Literate Housewife:
    I saw that in your post! 🙂

    I was just looking at that book at the bookstore. India is one of the few countries that I haven’t been to in Asia. I’ve been struggling with the dilemma–to go, or not to go. Granted I have ample preparation, I think I’ll give it a go.

  19. gautami tripathy:
    Think I’ve got company at Hogwarts! 🙂

  20. The Handmaid’s Tale 1984 are popping up a lot on lists of worlds readers would not like to live. I haven’t yet read Atwood’s book, but I definitely can see why 1984 would not be an appealing place to settle down in.

  21. I like this question–I might have to snag it from you soon. I agree–I would Not want to live in Margaret Atwood’s fictional world of Gilead!!

  22. Literary Feline:
    At wood has a knack to create a very realist world in the book. I wonder if it won’t be too long when a film adaptation will come out.

  23. Danielle:
    I remember when I was reading the book, I had this chill going down my spine from time to time!

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