In 2017, I joined up with Top 5 Tuesday to write a post of five bookish places I’d like to live in. When a similar topic popped up on Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to take it in a different direction.
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Europe last year, and ever since, I’ve had a deep desire to travel and see the world for myself. While financially that isn’t possible for me, it’s still possible to visit these places in books! And I can dream. While fantasy worlds are all well and good, our own planet is so incredible, there are so many things to see and experience.
Here’s ten places in our world featured in books that I would love to visit in real life!
The Chicago World’s Fair Site and Murder House
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
This first one is cheating slightly, because I chose a non-fiction book with a specific place that interests me. While the World’s Fair (now called the World’s Expo) still exists, there seems to be something less monumental about it. The Fairs at the turn of the century were beginning to discover and share incredible things. World travel was more limited as well, so people would flock to the World’s Fair to experience a taste of faraway places, and to be amazed.
Also, H. H. Holmes’s murder house seems both terrifying and fascinating, so I’d have to make a stop there. There’s not a lot left to see of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, but there’s something about being in a historically significant location that pulls my heartstrings.
The Paris Catacombs
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
While I had the opportunity to visit Paris last spring, it was merely a tease of a taste. The Paris Catacombs have been on my list of things to see before I die for… probably ten years. Like H. H. Holmes’s murder house, this is a bit of a gruesome stop, but it’s so full of history, I can’t resist.
Being completely honest? The fact that Roshani Chokshi included the Catacombs in The Gilded Wolves is one of the things that made me love the books. Between that and included the World’s Expo in Paris, the sitting was absolutely fantastic.
Also the Catacombs kind of creep me out, so I’m not entirely sure I really want to go there. But it’s also fascinating and historic. So much death though….
Oxford (esp. the University)
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Any of the great Universities would probably do, but Oxford University is just stunning. The college I went to is composed of beautiful colonial buildings, but that’s nothing to the grandeur of the old universities in Europe. Lyra spends her childhood at Oxford, being raised by the scholars and climbing on the University roof. Sounds like a magical place to grow up.
Doubly magical because, as Harry Potter fans may know, there are many scenes in the early Harry Potter movies that were filmed in Oxford, including at the university. Between Oxford, and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, it’s a Harry Potter fan’s Wonderland.
Hill of Tara
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Again, this is where my trip of Europe feels like such a tease. I barely had time to breathe in the essence of a place before we were gone again. When we visited Ireland, it was a dreary, rainy day. It was cold and we spent a lot of the day on the bus from Cobh to county Tippary. I feel like there’s so much more to experience. The Rock of Cashel was my favorite place, because of the age of the location. You can feel a thousand years of human history stretching out beneath your feet in Ireland… it’s incredible.
And Tara? Tara is old. There’s a reason why it is feature so often as a magical or haunted place. Either way, I imagine it would be very ancient and breathtaking. I love visiting old place, so if I find myself in Ireland again, the Hill of Tara is on my list.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
There’s something about Prague that seems faraway and filled with magic for me, though I couldn’t tell you exactly why I feel that way. There are very few cities that I want to visit in the world – I’m not for World Heritage Sites and things that are historically or culturally significant. But Prague! I want to go to Prague. It sits alongside Rome, Venice, Barcelona… and a revisit to London and Paris. Prague is one of the great cities of Europe.
It’s setting is one of the reasons I originally put Daughter of Smoke and Bone on my TBR. Now that I’m familiar with Laini Taylor’s writing style after reading Strange the Dreamer, I’m even more excited to delve into this one!
Paris Opera House
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Back to Paris again! On our tour of Paris, we were able to catch a quick glance of the outside of the Paris Opera House down a street, but the view was half obscured. If you haven’t been to Paris, then you should know – every single building in the city is a work of art. Some shine brighter than other – Notre-Dame, for example – is exquisite. The Paris Opera House is also extraordinary. And that was from the half-glance I managed of the outside.
The picture used here is of the Palais Garnier‘s grand foyer. If the outside of this building is beautiful, its interior puts it to shame. The Palais is still used for productions, primarily ballet. While I appreciate ballet, I’m not interested in it particularly, so I’d go in for a tour. The tunnels beneath the Opera House featured in The Phantom of the Opera are real, even the “lake”.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Okay, so I’ve been to Salem before. Twice.
Salem, MA is one of the most interesting (imho) historical locations readily available to me. But I eat that city up. I love Salem. It has veins of important, terrifying US history as well as being a port city… there’s just so much to do in Salem. But I’m there for Nathaniel Hawthorne, and even more, I’m there for the history of witchcraft.
Like most New England cities, the bits of history have been tucked in between Dunkin’ Donuts and gas stations. When I first visited Salem, we took a ghost tour to the old prison. Since then, the prison has been turned into a restaurant, apartments, and a bar. Salem feels like the sort of place I need to visit again and again, before progress swallows the history whole. If you visit, just follow the painted red line to stay on the “witch trail”.
Prince Edward Island
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
I actually did a whole post about why I want to visit Prince Edward Island a little while back, so I’m not going to elaborate too much here. Suffice it to say I’d still like to visit Prince Edward Island.
Actually, I really should get to Canada in general. It’s only about a four hour drive from where I live now to Montreal.
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
I wanted to make sure not all of my locations on this list were in Europe. I’m in love with Europe, but really, the whole world has a lot of fantastic locations. I’m not entirely sure why I’m drawn to Seattle – I think I’m largely influence by film and television. Even though it’s a city, Seattle feels like the type of place that would be filled with small businesses and kind people.
Boston – my closest “big city” is culturally incredible… but Massachusetts people are… a lot. And I say that being practically a Massachusetts person myself. I’d like to go to Washington state someday, and when I’m there, Seattle is definitely on the list.
Inferno by Dan Brown
This entry could be “any city in Italy ever please just let me go to Italy”. But Florence was the only book setting I could think of! Are there any books set in Venice? Particularly YA? I’d like to add them to my TBR.
Still, Florence would be extraordinary. In Inferno, Florence features as a location where Dante Alighieri spent a significant amount of time, making it a logical location for the hunt to begin. But culturally speaking, Florence is incredibly important. It was a major player in the Renaissance, with patrons from the city supporting Michelangelo, Botticelli, and da Vinci. Even today, the city is extraordinary. There’s so much history and culture to soak in. Florence, Rome, Venice… all of it.
Our planet is extraordinary – both of its own accord, and the things that humanity has built upon it. We have done a lot of damage, but we have done amazing things as well. While I wish I could travel more, I’m so grateful for movies, books, the internet… all these things that allow for us to see places on this planet where we may never be able to physically travel.
That said, there are also so many incredible, imagined places. Places like Middle Earth and Haven, as well as the far reaches of space.
Being transported… that’s one of the magical properties of books. I love it. I love reading.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:
Places Mentioned In Books That I’d Like to Visit
This is sort of a trick question, isn’t it? We’re readers. We live in these books and swallow them whole – I think all of us wish we could step in and out of any one of them at leisure, making the fantasy worlds accessible and being able to travel with ease.