Lola’s Ramblings: When do you like a book setting?

Posted October 29, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 22 Comments


Lola’s Ramblings is a feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews where I ramble on about a book related or a non-book related topic. These are discussion type of posts where I talk about a topic and readers can weigh in on the topic in the comments. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like tours, cover reveals, memes, challenges, recaps or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are discussions of a certain topic and my point of view on them. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

Earlier I already talked about how experience settings where I listed in two posts which settings I liked and why and which I liked less. Read part one here and part two here. There I focussed specifically on the exact setting. This time I want to look more globally at setting. I notice more and more that in reviews I often give an alinea for setting if it’s interesting. So I want to talk about what is a good setting and how an author can make a setting come alive and feel real. With settings I often mean the location where a book is set and mostly this applies to books set into our own world. Settings can be the town, the place, the region or even the house or buildign where a book takes place and I use the word to indicate all those things.

What do I like a book setting?

  • a spark of justiceDetails and descriptions. I think a setting doesn’t come alive and isn’t good until there are details and descriptions. A house is just a house without details, but knowing whether it’s old new, dusty or clean and how it looks from the inside. Descriptions and details really can give a feel for the place and makes it easier to imagine what it looks. And they can help form a beter imagine of that specific house or location instead of just the general imagine. The details and descriptions make it stand out from other houses for example.
  • Being able to imagine the setting. Just like with world building, I want to be able to imagine what the setting looks like. It is dingy, neat. colourfull, what does the palce look like? What kind of town is it? Which season is it? What is the feel of the palce or setting? Is it creepy or mysterious, or familiar and comforting etc. I like being able to image the
  • Settings I know little about. I like visiting new places. New settings it a bit like reading a fantas book and get to visit a new world, although in this case there isn’t a new world but a new setting. I like reading about settings I know little about. I recently read a book about a circus for for example, which was a fun setting as I never read about circus before. I like learning more about ew to me settings, leanr about the people there and what it looks like.
  • Settings I haven’t read about as often. This is mroe the originality part of settings, settings I don’t read about as often are fun. So we all read a book with a smal town setting and even though it is one of my favourite settings, it isn’t quite original. The circus setting mentioned above is used less often.
  • ImmersedSettings I enjoy being. This one isn’t necessary for a setting to be described well and having me like the setting, but once in a while it’s nice to have a setting I personally like. As this often makes me like the setting more or feel more comfortable. In my posts I did earlier I talked in Read part one here and part two here about what I think of specific settings and which I like and which not. Settings I like are small town settings or nature settings. I also like job related settings and then particulary jobs I know little about.
  • Believeable and Realistic. I like it when settings are believeable and realistic. Often when you know little about the setting it’s hard to judge this, but sometimes when I read about a setting it just feels realistic, like the author has really done their research and I like that extra touch.
  • Learn new things. I like learning new things. I recently read a book set in Historical Chicago where the city was muddy and they started to lift the city from the mud, it was such an interesting tidbit. I like learning new things like that while reading. To leanr ew thigns about a place and time while reading is fun.
  • Travel to other places. I like being able to experience a setting I might not have the chance to experience otherwise. Reading gives me the chance to travel to cities and places I might not have the chance to visit else. And that’s what I like about a well developed setting, it feels like I am there and I can imagine what it looks like. It almost feels like I actually travelled to that place.
  • The Inhabitants. I often feel that who lives at the settings or the inhabitants of that place can add to the feel or the setting as well. Like how in a small town setting you have people who know everyone else. Or in a mountainous setting you have people who know the joy and the danger of those mountains. The place shapes the people who live there and the people who live there give you a feel for the place.

When do you like a book setting?


22 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: When do you like a book setting?

  1. I want to feel like I’m there. I don’t want the author to open up with a generic description of the the setting, I want it to come alive for me as the characters experience it, otherwise it feels too much like an info dump. Also, I want to see fresh settings. Just about every contemporary cowboy romance that I’ve read this year either takes place in Montana or Colorado. While the books were amazing reads, I want the authors to switch it up a bit. I think that’s why I like Maisey Yates’s Copper Ridge series because they are set in Oregon and you honestly don’t really think of cowboys and ranches in Oregon.
    Angela @Simply Angela recently posted…Playing Dirty by Tiffany SnowMy Profile

    • It’s definitely better if you get the descriptions and details with how the characters experience it than a setting info dump. I haven’t read a lot of cowboy romances, so I haven’t read about those two settings as often. I have read a great angel series set in Montana if I remember correctly. Fresh and original settings are definitely preferable, although it probably is pretty genre specific and depends on the reader as well.

  2. I love details in setting! Of course, some authors do go over the top here, but I believe some is better than none in this case. I could easily skip over a lengthy description if it bored me, so I’m okay with that.

    I also love visiting new places, so smells, sights, and sounds will play a big role in getting me sucked into that location.
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…Random Thoughts On… Themes In My WritingMy Profile

    • I agree there is a thing as too much details, but I rather have too many than too little details. And like you said you can skip over descriptions if they bore you, but it’s harder to make up details that aren’t there.

      That’s a good point too, including all the different sensations really helps with bringing the setting alive.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: When do you like a book setting?My Profile

  3. There are so many times when I pick up a book,read it, and cannot tell you where the book was set, where the character lived, etc. This mainly happens in romance because a ton of romance are character-driven and I’m totally fine with that. But a truly well rounded book would be a book that I can vividly image everything – the setting, the world around the characters, everything!
    Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger recently posted…Lead Me On by Victoria DahlMy Profile

    • I agree a good character focussed romance is great, but I love it even more when the setting really comes alive. I think it can really add something to the book if you know where it’s set and can imagine how the place looks. I lvoe it when books have a weel described setting.

  4. I don’t read a lot of fantasy or historical books, so when it comes to setting, I really like books that are easy to picture with description that doesn’t feel like TOO much you know? I don’t want to be bogged down with details! I also really like settings of places I’ve never been – especially other countries (as I live in the U.S. and have not left it yet).

    Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance recently posted…Goodreads Giveaways: Find Some New LGBT Reads!My Profile

    • I live in the Netherlands, so visiting the US through books already feels like visiting another country. It’s fun to visit countries you haven’t been to through books. I agree that too much details can bog down the pace, but I do prefer books to have some details about the setting as without details it can feel too general.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: When do you like a book setting?My Profile

  5. I definitely love settings I’m able to imagine.. I especially love it when I’m able to mentally stroll through the setting.. For example with the Harry Potter series.. From the moment I read the first book all those years ago I could totally imagine myself walking through the hallways of Hogwarts.. I could almost smell the old building!! And of course the inhabitans really make the setting complete!
    Maureen Hinten recently posted…Blog Ahead Challenge – Round upMy Profile

    • Yes Harry Potter is a great example of a well done setting and world building. From the book you really get the feel of how everything looks and can imagine vividly how the surroundings look. It’s great when books can do that and transport you to a different location.

    • Even with magical or paranormal settings there is a degree of what is realistic or makes sense and what not. It’s not realistic in the sense that it does exist, but realistic in the sense that it makes sense and is realistic for that world. Although I usually use the term world building in those cases, with setting I usually mean real world settings.

  6. I’ve never been outside my own country, the Philippines. I haven’t even been to the capital, Manila cause I can only get there by plane. So, when I read, I love to be able to “travel” to different places. I wanna taste the locality of the setting, like it has a personality of its own, even if it’s a made-up, fantasy world.
    Jee Ann recently posted…Witness “Midnight Burning” by Karissa LaurelMy Profile

    • I haven’t read any of Karina Halle her books, might have to check them out now. I love it when you feel like you’re right there experiencing those places along with the characters.

  7. Setting is important, always for me. I have to ‘see’ the place though no, I don’t want so much detail that there is no forward story motion. I think setting plays a larger part for me in certain types of books. When I read a space sci-fi, a dystopian, a small town, or historical, I care more about setting than I do in other contemporaries, mysteries, or paranormals.

    For example, I’ve read mediocre small town romances when it comes to the romance and main characters, but the background town and minor characters will carry it into higher levels of enjoyment.
    The opposite can happen when I’m reading a historical and the details are wrong or vague so that I get distracted even if its a really good romance.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Viscount’s Wager by Ava MarchMy Profile

    • Having the right amount of details to be able to visualize it, but not too much that it bogs down the pace is important. I like detaisl, but idneed if there are too many detaisl it can get boring. I don’t mind it if books don’t have as much focus on the setting, but if the setting plays a part and is done well it can add to the book.

      If the romance, story and characetrs is good I don’t mind if the setting is almost nonexistent. While a mediocre book can still impress me with it’s great setting.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.