In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. But how about books? Does where a book is set affect your reading choices? Are you more or less likely to read books set in places you know or love?
Question from Deb on September 22, 2016
I would say yes on both points. Where (and also when!) a book is set does affect my choice whether to read it; probably more often than I’m conscious of.
For example, I usually do feel a lot more “at home” reading British books compared to American. (I’ve never been to the US, but travelled nearly all over Britain on family holidays back in my teens.) And, thinking about it, with Swedish books too I suspect I’m probably often drawn to the kind of settings (landscapes) that I feel I can easily visualize in my head. (On the other hand I sometimes feel that too detailed descriptions, depending too much on the exact location of real streets and buildings in big cities, can be rather tiresome, whether I’ve been there or not.)
But of course, sometimes it’s the other way round too, and I get interested in reading a book set in a foreign country precisely because I realize I know very little about it, and hope to learn more.
A memory pops up while I’m thinking about all this - from a holiday to Germany back in the 1980’s, while I was studying German at the university. It was my first trip to Germany at all, and it was in late August or even beginning of September, which means I missed the first week or so of the term (but I had asked permission). To somewhat make up for that absence, I had brought one of the study course novels with me: Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers / The Sorrows of Young Werther. I remember it as a rather special experience to sit outdoors and read this particular book, and look up and find myself overlooking the very landscape where it was set - the valley of the river Lahn, which was where I happened to be staying. (Not the exact spot where Goethe sat, perhaps… But close enough!)