I had a little trouble coming up with settings at first, so this list will begin with specific settings, such as college, and will end up with very broad “settings,” just warning you. OK, on to college. I know Young Adult tends to focus on high school, but I think it should extend to the young adults in college as well. Yes, technically the so-called “New Adult” subgroup or genre or whatever is supposed to focus on a college and post college audience of young adults, but it sounds like those books are more about sex and abusive relationships and bad writing than life after high school and living fulltime at home. There are so many college experiences that college and high school readers might want to read about, but there just aren’t that many books about it. Hopefully, if New Adult becomes a legitimate category, really good writers will begin writing amazing stories about college and the immediate years beyond it.
Beaches aren’t as rare as college settings are, but it’s always fun to read about them. Whether the books are about vacationers and their adventures or lifelong residents and their issues, books with beach settings often manage to have the greatest atmospheres. Now, that could just be the writers writing about beaches, but I think it’s easier to create immersive settings when you have some place like a beach.
Small towns often feel like characters of their own. Sure, some big cities like New York City might seem like characters that everyone knows at least a little bit about, but small towns are unique, often wacky characters, full of even more quirky and different residents. Small towns can feel more real than some medium or even large towns can. I also feel like authors are more likely to draw on their own experiences with small towns when writing about them, whether they lived in a quirky little town of their own or just encountered one or more in their lifetime. Stories with small towns often make me wish I could live there, and that’s one of the best things about great settings.
It’s hard to think of a specific word for the weather-opposite of beaches. I guess you could say ski resort of ski lodge or winter home or something like that, but it’s not really the same. Besides, when I say “snowy places,” I don’t necessarily mean places for vacation, like beaches often are. I guess this would fit better as a time period (winter, of course) than a setting, but snow often adds to the setting, so I’m including it anyway. Like with beaches, I think the addition of snow and all its connotations just enhances descriptions, even if it doesn’t figure prominently into the setting. And, if it does, even better for me.
Lighthouses tend to be associated with beaches, so this might be cheating a little, but I don’t think the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Lighthouses just need to be along the coast, so there’s no reason to think that stories about lighthouses can rise above a simple beach story. The idea of lighthouses is just so cool and antique. It’s hard to have a story about a lighthouse, other than historical ones of course, without acknowledging changing times and run-down buildings and quaintness.
As I write this, I guess I should have just put “outside of the U.S.” instead, but I tend to think of European countries when I think of places I want to visit. Getting to read about them would just be the next best thing. And, while it’s nice to read about amazing places like London or Paris or Rome or Athens or some other big, well-known city, it’d also be nice to read about some lesser-known places. Much like the previously mentioned small towns, European small towns, or at least less-known and smaller towns, are like to have plenty of character and characters to read about. Why not mix the quirkiness of small towns with the exoticness of foreign countries?
You read books about Eastern states, Western States, Southern States, and the occasional Midwest states, but I feel like you don’t read much about Middle-Eastern states (not sure if that’s an actual term, but whatever) like Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, etc. I guess I could have mentioned any lesser-used states in general, but this was a specific region that I feel like I never read about. I just want to read about new places, places that rarely get a chance in the spotlight.
This kind of goes with the last one, but this isn’t specifically “states that rarely show up in books,” these are states that have very distinct personalities. Hawaii or Alaska, for example, are fairly unique with their specific weather and positions as non-contingent states. So, like the character-of-their-own-small-towns, “unique” states might have personalities of their own as well, although it really depends on the writer and the story itself.
I didn’t notice until I was writing this up how much I like reading about personality-imbued settings. Quirky houses can have personalities of their own, not to mention they tend to house quirky people, whom I love to read about. Really as simple as that.
And this was the point when I pretty much ran out of things that might even be considered settings and moved on to the idea of “family.” In order to use it for this topic, I guess I specifically want to read about settings that revolve around family, such as family reunions, whether they’re vacations or gatherings at home, or places that allow the focus to remain on the family while still having some sort of personality of its own.