Saturday, November 2, 2013

Setting Preferences

Does the setting of a previous book draw you to read other books in that setting? They seem to do so for me. Location and time attract me, and sometimes repel me to the point I won't even attempt to read a story in the 'wrong' location. Realtors and successful store owners all say "Location, location, location." Is it true in books, too?

I know my preferences developed in my teens when I was wildly reading everything. Ever since reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, I've been fascinated by romances set in the Regency period. For a long time most major publishers dropped the genre, but e-books brought them back. Now even the NY publishers are turning them out again; although, the morals in the newer novels in this setting seem to veer far from the original. Since reading medieval romances, I've been attracted to those Scottish heroes swinging swords in kilts, and the originals I read all took place in England! Except, again these reads are changing, too, and are often more steamy than I like. I'm not saying sex in a book is verboten, only that I want a strong plot, too. The Virginian and Mrs. Mike made me like the taming the wild country settings, whether in the west or far north. A Town Like Alice made me love Australian settings. The same goes for science fiction and fantasy, mysteries, and certain types of suspense stories. Was that the influence of Isaac Asminov, Frank Herbert, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and my other long-ago favorite authors? I wonder if I don't particularly like werewolves and vampires because I didn't like the setting of Frankenstein or Dracula? I must admit I've read a few that I did enjoy, but my preference overall hasn't changed.

While my favorite setting locations developed early, I think if I love a new book set in either a wildly different location or or one with a new take on any setting, this setting might well guide my future reading preferences, too.

So does the setting of a book draw or repel you or am I the only one? Do you have a favorite genre based on a specific setting?


Anonymous said...

My preference? Think Blade Runner.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Setting for me is a package: weather, color, smell, mood and history of the place. I've been fortunate to have lived in many communities in the Midwest, the South, and my "native land" around Philadelphia.

When selecting a setting for my new WIP, I vacillated between Philadelphia and Atlanta. There had to be a change of seasons. But I settled on Cleveland because having lived there 13 years, I really know that area. It has lots of dramatic weather and mood. It's not romantic, but it's a place people can identify with middle American values -- part of the theme/setting of the book.

Rhobin said...

Big Mike -- one of my favorite settings, too.

Julie, your type of setting seems to be the type I'm drawn to.

Liz Fountain said...

I don't think I use setting to select books - but I do love a book that brings its setting to life. I think of A Confederacy of Dunces and what it did for New Orleans. Amazing - the city is nearly a character in that book.

Thanks! Liz