Top 10 Settings I’d Like to See More of (or at All) in Books
By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
1. Any city, town, or village in the Philippines other than Manila.
Very few fiction novels take place in the Philippines and the ones that do, usually set themselves in the capital city of Manila. My parents were born in the Philippines. It’s what I and many other immigrant Filipinos consider to be their cultural home. While many Asian books take place in China or Japan, the beauty, culture, and setting of the Philippines is often overlooked.
2. Extremely isolated places or places with extreme terrain or climate.
I would love to read more books that take place in remote areas that may have extreme terrain or climate, which would hinder a large population from inhabiting it—for example, the Arctic.
3. Authentic portrayal of insular, religious sects.
I had recently read I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits, which is now one of my favourite books, and is about the Hasidic religious sect. If I had not had the privilege of reading this book, I wouldn’t have not only known of its existence, but also of its spiritual and religious lifestyle. I believe the only way people can truly move in the direction of inclusivity and understanding, is to have access to these kinds of authentic stories.
4. Authentic portrayal of least known cultures or communities.
I would love to read more about the Aboriginal community or the historical, tribal people of the Philippines like the Ati or the Aeta.
5. Underrated cities, towns, and rural areas.
A lot of books take place in popular, metropolitan, and well-known cities like Toronto, New York, Tokyo, or Paris. I’d like to believe that the fictional world, like the real world, is much larger in scope and culture than those larger, popular cities. It would be refreshing to read stories from places that give us a personal, intimate, and new perspective on other people and ourselves that we didn’t necessarily know before.
6. Private, secret, or least-known agencies or institutions.
While mystery and suspense are not my preferred genres of choice, I’d love to read more about the workings of private, secret, or least-known agencies or institutions, aside from the theatrical, Hollywood versions. What is it like to live in a modern-day nunnery? How does the Vatican truly look like and function? What kind of new technologies exist for the use of covert operatives for such agencies as the CIA? What are the secret societies (imagined or real) that exist and why and how do they function?
7. Imaginary utopias.
While the utopian novel is nothing like the realism of the world we live in today, it’s an imaginative and progressive way in which readers can aspire to work towards self-improvement and societal justice.
8. New galaxies and planetary worlds in space.
I haven’t read as much sci-fi as I would like, but of what I have read in the past, there seems to be plenty of dialogue about the planet Mars. Perhaps writers and readers could move beyond that particular planet and the Milky Way to help create new and imaginary settings for other planetary worlds and galaxies that do indeed exist.
9. New fantasy for the supernatural and paranormal.
Though it may seem like a cliché, the large amount of literature about vampires, werewolves, fae, zombies, witches, and wizards, etc., are ever popular with the YA audience—and with good reason—they are creatures that entice our imagination because they are beyond who we are. I would love to see more elaborate and new settings (as well as creatures) of the supernatural and paranormal.
10. The Mind and the Dream World.
A fascinating subject is that of the mind, the subconscious, and dreams. It would be wonderful to read fiction that provides an internal landscape of the mind and the dream world.
Thanks to the Broke and the Bookish blog for providing and hosting this weekly meme!
Of the list that I provided, which setting is your favourite?
What type of settings would you like to see more of in your reading?
What settings do you think have already been over-used and over-done?