Friday, January 16, 2015

would you like to live in a book?

it’s one of those fun questions – which fictional books would you like to live in? –which seems easy but actually I found quite hard to answer


About a third of the books I read are from the crime / police / detection genre which while they make a good story are not my idea of a great situation to be living in.  Although taking the idea more broadly, I already live in the city that provides the setting for two of my favourite crime authors – Ian Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre.

Another third of the books I read are of the imagined world genre and here I do have some candidates for places I’d consider living – I’d love to be a dragon rider in Anne MacAffrey’s Pern books or live in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover world or Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld and some of Melissa Scott’s artificial intelligence / steampunk worlds appeal.  Jasper Fforde’s wacky world also appeals, but seeing as one of his plot lines is an organisation which sends operatives to live inside novels, it feels a bit weird to be thinking about living there.

But a lot of imagined world fiction is post apocalypse or dystopian and deals with a breakdown in the old order – which I find fascinating as a the setting for novels but I’m not at all sure I want to live in the world of the Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) or Divergent (Veronica Roth).  I have the same problem with Tolkien’s Middle Earth – at the time he is writing about it there are big wars and upheaval, perhaps I’d like to live there after the end of the Lord of the Rings (and I did live in New Zealand!).

Looking at the other books I read last year, a theme seems to be how people cope is trying circumstances – civil war in Nigeria (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) or moving to China from USA (Andrea Barrett) or the New Zealand goldfields (Elanor Catton). Again I was fascinated to read about these situations and how people react, but I don’t want to live in them.

Even old favourites like Laura Ingles Wilder and Louisa Alcott and Jane Austen don’t appeal as places to live because life was hard and women had restricted choices. And I realise that one factor in my thinking about which books I would like to live in is the presence of strong women characters.

So, starting from a fun question I end up realising that I’m not drawn to happy, idyllic life books.

How about you?  Are there books you would like to live in?


Sian said...

It's a great question. I'll admit that I am sometimes drawn to the Laura Ingalls world, partly because we lived near a museum with a covered wagon and log cabins when I was little, and partly because I've always enjoyed imagining being self sufficient. I wonder could I make candles and butcher a pig and all those other things if I had to?

Jane said...

I've always loved the idea of living in the past as in the Little House books but would hate to not be able to have a shower everyday!

Ruth said...

In a word, yes.

alexa said...

Gosh, that's a very interesting question, Helena! I'd quite like to have a short spell in the Just William books, as long as I got to go and play with the Outlaws :).

Miriam said...

A happy idlylic life sounds great to me! Obviously me being me there would be a list (very long) of things I would need.....;)

Prairie Jill said...

That is interesting! Like you, I read a lot of detective novels - definitely not a good situation to live in! Louise Penney writes about a detective in Quebec, set both in Montreal and a tiny village called Three Pines. That might be a nice place (without the murders!). Also love the idea of Pern - oh, to ride a dragon! I thought of Jasper Fforde, too.

Missus Wookie said...

Interesting idea - there are some books I read that I wouldn't mind living in but I've worked too hard in places trying to be self sufficient to want to do that full time.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting question. I have a love of mysteries but like you I don't think I'd want to live in those. Biographies wouldn't work either. Hmmmm, this is hard. I'll have to give it more thought.