Lola’s Ramblings: How I experience settings in books

Posted April 23, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 20 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.

Today I want to talk about settings in books, I vaguely remember doing a post about this once a long time ago, but I think it’s a fun topic and I feel like I don’t talk about it enough while for me it’s important to how I experience a book. When I am reading a book I sorta see the events as a movie in my head, but I also feel like I am at that place. So the setting can influence how I feel when I read a book, settings that I love in real life are often settings I like in books as well and things that make me scared in real life like heights often make me uncomfortable when reading as well. Below I mention some settings and how I feel about them in real life, how they influence my reading experience and mention a book I read that features that setting.

Settings in books

  • The GatheringNature. I love nature in real life and being surrounded by nature makes me feel free and at ease. There isn’t much nature around the place were I live, but even seeing trees from my window is already so much beter then where I previously lived. When reading a book with a nature setting, it can really improve my mood and make me enjoy the book maybe even more.
    A book I read with this setting: The Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong. I just loved how much the nature setting added to this series and it might be the reason I am a big fan of shifter/werewolf books as they often involve running through the forest and being close to nature settings.
  • Cities. It seems a bit restrictive to just mention this as one setting as the way a city described is usually of big importance and there are many different cities. In real life I love visiting cities and walking around in them, but I never would be able to live in a busy city and pictures of new york freak me out every time because of the big amount of high buildings and people. In books I usually like cities especially when there are enough descriptions to really give me a feel for the city. I also like how sometimes a city can feel like a world itself only smaller, there is so much to do and see and experience in only one city. So even though in real life I have mixed feelings about cities, I usually enjoy them in books.
    A book I read with this setting: Removed by SJ Pajonas. Most of the first two books all take place in the same city and I kinda like how it’s all in one city, but there is still so much to do and see in one city.
  • Foreign countries. This is another one where my real life and book experience is the same. While I don’t get out much, I do enjoy visiting other countries or seeing what’s different there. I like the fact that to experience other countries I can just pick up a book which transports me to another country. As I live in the Netherlands I don’t really read a lot of books that actually take place in my own country and most books take me to a country I’ve never been before. I like reading about other countries and how things are different there and I still can be surprised at how different things are in the US than here.
    A book I read with this setting: Anywhere by J Meyers. I choose this book as it specifically focusses on being in a different country. The main character goes backpacking in europe and visits multiple countries. I liked getting a feel of these different countries during reading this book and I liked how when she visited countries I had been as well I combined the image of the book with my own memories to get a feel for the place/ country.
  • wild justiceHouses. I spend a lot of time in my house, I like my house. In most books houses are common, I think about every book I read features houses in some form and I often just feel neutral about them as they are just so common. Although sometimes I feel an author can do a good job of making a house seem really homey or give it a feel that makes it different from my normal neutral response to houses. Houses usually do make me feel safe, so I usually have a slightly positive emotion to them.
    A book I read with this setting: Nadia Stafford by Kelley Armstrong. I choose this book as the house left a strong impression with me. Nadia, the main character in this series lives in a lodge. Extra bonus points is that this lodge is surrounded by woods, so I really liked it, I always got a happy homey feel whenever Nadia was home in her lodge. It felt like home and I really understood how much that place ment to her.
  • Underground. Being underground freaks me out, I am not exactly sure why, but I feel afraid and claustrophobic when underground. Books that have underground settings can make me feel like that as well and while the main character might not mind the underground setting, I do.
    A book I read with this setting: Beyond Reach by Siobhan Davis. Most of this book takes places underground and it got to me at times, it’s just a less fun setting than others, although this was still an enjoyable book even despite the setting. So that also shows that while I don’t like those setting they won’t instantly ruin a book for me, I just feel less at easy in a setting like that.
  • High places. I am terrified of heights in real life and am not a big fan of them in books either, although you usually don’t come across high places a lot in books, so that’s a good thing. Or there is not enough description to make me scared, although there are some books in which the high places made me uncomfortable.
    A book I read with this setting: Divergent by Veronica Roth. Anyone remember the ferris wheel scene? Damn that scene freaked me out, even though it’s a good book, I really could not relate to Tris and her ability to do scary things like that.

Okay that’s it for this week. I had so many settings I wanted to address that I decided to cut this post into two, so it wouldn’t get too long. So come back next week to hear my opinion about even more settings.

How do settings in books influence your reading experience? Which settings in books do you like and which don’t? What’s your opinion about the settings I mentioned here? What’s your favourite setting?


20 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: How I experience settings in books

  1. I’ve never thought about the comparison of my real life preferences influencing my reading preferences, but to some extent it is true of me too. I’m not a big city girl (though I’ve had descriptions of NYC, London or Paris that I love) and don’t usually gravitate toward books set in the city. For a great part of my childhood, I grew up surrounded by ranches living off base though my parents were military and I do love books set in both situations. I went to college in farm country and hey, I love small town romances or romances set on farms. I like to drive and see new places so road trip and travel stories have their appeal. But then I also get into Sci-Fi Space, Dystopian apocalyptic, historical, and survival stories so I’m not sure what that says about me. Haha!
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Interview w/ PA DePaul & Julie Ann Walker #GiveawayMy Profile

    • I’ve been thinking more about settigns lately and realized how they can influence how much I enjoy a book, so I decided to do a post about it. It’s interesting to hear that you also gravitate to books where you like the setting. I also love small town, I think I mention those in part two. I also like visiting new places, although I prefer to do that by reading than actually going out. I think those other genres you mentioned have more to do with exporing new world or letting our imagination go to new places, even though we might not have a connection to them in real life or the opportunity to visit them, but maybe that’s what makes those settings so fun?

  2. I love nature and foreign countries settings – I do love it even more if the book has New York in it since I’m based there. It gets me more excited, this is a really great discussion post overall <3

    • I can imagine it’s fun to read books that take place in your hometown. I would love to read mroe books that take palce in cities I’ve actually been to as that’s rare already. Nature and foreign countries are two of my favourite settings as well and I am happy that the foreign countries one is so easy for me as almost all books take place in foreign countries. I should try and see if I can find some books that take place in the Netherlands
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: How I experience settings in booksMy Profile

  3. Great post! I love books that transport me to different locations, so I’m big on international books and scifi/fantasy for those reasons. World building is so important and good descriptions that bring the world straight into my brain will make me remember a book forever. I love that you highlighted both underground and up high locations. Both are frought with psychological issues for a lot of people, and therefore fun to play with for authors 🙂
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…New Adult Scavenger HuntMy Profile

    • Indeed it’s one of the thigns I like about books, to be transported to a different location and I agree it’s one of the reason world building and descriptions are very important. And it’s something you do really well in your books, I really feel like I am there and can imagine how everything looks. It also creates a bit of a feel/ images I associate witha book.
      I find it interesting you mention how it’s fun for authors to play with high and low locations, I’ve never thought of it in that way and how authors can use those location to elicit certain emotions. Like Beyond Reach the book that I mentioned, while the underground made me uncomfortable it did match the feel of the book.

  4. I love a setting that is described well. It helps set the mood and pain a picture in your mind. It also helps transport me to the story. But, I don’t often compare them to real like settings, or at least consciously.

    I’m a very visual person, so books don’t affect me like movies do if that makes sense. For example, the ferris wheel scene in Divergent didn’t bother me, even though I knew they were high. But, the Dubai tower in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol creeped me out because I could see how high they were.
    Jenni Elyse (@jenni_elyse) recently posted…Getting to Know You: Ice CreamMy Profile

    • Yes exactly! It really helps paint a picture in your mind and it really matters to me what that picture looks like. It’s not like I compare them consciously either, but for this post I decided to compare the two. A while back I realized that the reason I love nature settings in fiction so much is because I like them in real life as well.

  5. This is a great post:D! I hate underground settings, it seriously freaks me out, I actually try to avoid books like this. I think cities and nature are my favorite, oooh and I think “new worlds” are pretty cool. Cities and nature just add more depth and a lot more action because it’s a vaster setting then say a house. I think there are a lot more opportunities with bigger settings. I tend to get bored when an entire book is featured within a house or one particular setting, it’s better when they move around a bit.
    Lanie recently posted…A-Z Challenge: Too Much! Too Much!My Profile

    • Underground setings freak me out as well, although I think it can add to the feel of the book as well. The book I mentioned in my post was still a great book and I think the enclosed underground space worked for the feel of the book. I agree in a city of slightly bigger space there is more opportunitie, but I also think a house offers a lot of opportunity most authors don’t really use.

    • Me too, that’s one of the things I like about books, going to new places and getting to meet different characers. I also like supernatural settings and different planets, although space settings freak me out a bit, but I also find them interesting.

  6. I love books set in cities as it’s so different from where I currently live which is quite rural. I have lived in cities in the past though and prefer living in the countryside so just experiencing them though books works for me 🙂 Underground settings would freak me out too. And I love using books to visit foreign counties and learn a bit. In the past I have chosen to visit places just because I read books set there and they just fostered a longing in me to really see them.
    Trish @ Between My Lines recently posted…Audio Book Review : Burying Water by K A TuckerMy Profile

    • I live in a medium city, although it’s a quiet neighbourhoud, so mayeb that’s why I prefer the nature settings and smal town settings. And just like you I prefer to not live in a city, but I do enjoy experiencing them through books. There are some places I would love to visit because I’ve read books that were set in them, it must be nice to recognize things from the book when visiting.

  7. I like city settings for urban fantasy because it offers dark alleys and shadowy places for lurking monsters! I like to visit forests, lakes and mountains so I also enjoy these settings for plots. Other than the Tudor courts, I don’t like Court settings especially fae/fantasy or older periods of history/European Courts. I don’t like gothic historical settings especially for vampire reads. I’m not keen on Victorian or European settings. I prefer modern UK/USA style or dystopian future settings. I don’t read books set on other planets.
    chucklesthescot recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #81My Profile

    • I like urban fantasy as the city setting stsill make it relatable and it’s fun to see something normal intermingled with fantasy / paranormal elements. I do like other planets, but space always makes me a bit scared, even though I like it as well. I haven’t read many court settings so far, so I can’t form an opinion on those yet.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Midnight Frost by Jennifer EstepMy Profile

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