TTT, or Top Ten Tuesday, is a blog series created and hosted by The Broke & the Bookish. Stop by their blog if you want to participate or follow along!
This week's topic is all about unique settings for novels - cool historical time periods or perhaps an imagined future. I've talked about my love for historical fiction on previous TTT topics, so this week I'm excited to gush about some of my favourite time periods to read about. Of course I love when historical settings are imagined in new ways, as inspiration for a fantasy world. Settings give a story life, adding complexity and depth to the story and to the characters' feelings and motivations. When it's done well, the right setting can feel so real and alive that it's like you're really there in your imagination.
Times & Places I'd Love To Read About
Any Time Period - More of J. K. Rowling's Magical World
I know I'm not the only one staring at the map on Pottermore and wishing we could have books set in each one of the other wizarding schools. Each school and culture of wizards sounds fascinating. Why must J. K. Rowling tease us so with such amazing information? African wizard who don't use wands, Japanese wizard children flying to school on petrels, a Brazilian wizarding school in the rainforest. I want to meet all of the amazing wizards and witches around the world, not just the British and American ones. Still, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the American wizards in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Early Modern England & Europe
This one is a no-brainer. My academic research is on early modern women's writing and so I spend a lot of time in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Tudors are beginning to get some love from the YA community - My Lady Jane and The Glittering Court are two upcoming books that I'm really excited about, and Da Vinci's Tiger is a great Continental example (it's earlier Renaissance) that is currently waiting on my shelf. I'm also very excited for Traitor Angels, which is the kind of book that seems to have been written specifically for me - the English Civil War, Milton, conspiracy.
The Salem Witch Trials get some attention from this time period, but I'm interested in more original stories. I'd love to read about settlers braving the wild new territory and clashing with the Native Americans. I'd love to read about that tension, including stories from the perspective of Native Americans. I can only think of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane as YA examples (both witch trial books, though). Confession: when I was younger I had a strange love for books about colonist girls taken captive by Native Americans (The Ransom of Mercy Carter and Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catherine Carey Logan were the two titles I loved in this niche genre back in the day)
Medieval and Early Modern Japan
I would actually just love to read more books set in Japan in general, but I'm especially interested in reading about the time of the samurai. This is a time and a place I know almost nothing about, a great reason to want to read books about it. Risuko definitely fits the bill, set in sixteenth-century Japan. The Night Parade is a Middle Grade book that is set in Japan and sounds interesting, but it's set in the modern-day.
Spanish Conquest of Mexico & Latin America
Another early modern setting, this time sixteenth century Mexico and Latin America. I would love to read about the conquistadores as well as the native cultures of the Mayans and Incas. I love reading stories about Latin America, but haven't read much about the turmoil surrounding the Europeans' first arrival. Stories about colonialism are always fascinating - the clash of cultures gives insight into a troubled time in our history that still has negative effects reaching all the way to modern-day racial relations. This isn't a time period you see at all in YA, but I did discover Malinche on Goodreads and it sounds amazing - a tragic love affair set during the conquest of the Aztecs.
Baltimore - Throughout History, Present Day, & Future/Post-Apocalyptic,
I have been meaning to read On Such a Full Sea for ages, ever since I read that Lee was inspired when he saw Baltimore's projects outside his train window and thought they looked like a city scene from a post-Apocalyptic society. I love my hometown of Baltimore, but the city I know is akin to the world of Anne Tyler's characters (one of my best friends in high school lived down the street from Anne Tyler - great example of why we call our town Smalltimore). There's a whole other side to my city that I have only experienced through The Wire (another Smalltimore connection - my uncle is good friends with David Simon). I would love to read more about the parts of Baltimore I don't know as well as its history.
Late-20th- Century America
The 1970s and 1980s are now far enough gone that there are so many interesting historical perspectives to be explored. I've always loved looking through my parents pictures from high school and college, laughing at their funny clothes and hair but also curious about their lives during that time. My parents grew up in very different settings as well (my dad in the poor part of downtown Baltimore, my mom in the posh suburbs on Long Island) and so I'm interested to read about how American cities were each unique during this period. Jane Smiley's Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga takes on the 20th century through the lives of one family in the Midwest and I'm certainly looking forward to reading about the latter part of the century in the 2nd and 3rd instalments.
I love London, my part-time home, and there's certainly no shortage of books set here. I would love to see more about the future of London in literature - The Day of the Trifids is a famous classic examples, but I'd love to see an epic saga set in a grim future London. How I Live Now is a good story of a devastating war coming to England and The Book of Strange New Things hints at an amazing apocalypse story set in England. I want a book go the extra mile and tell the whole story of London crumbling as modern society falls.
Yes, this is mainly because I want more Anna Karenina. But I just love tragic love stories, which seem to be particularly well suited to Imperial Russia. Perhaps I should just bite the bullet and read War and Peace. If only there were a novel with fewer than 1,000 pages to satisfy my yearning for historical fiction set in Russia. Tsarina sounds like it could be a great YA set in Romanov Russia.