Today Kory tells us her Top 5 Places she's visited or would like to visit based on books she's read.
Please feel free to give us your #TopFive in the comments ... We'd love to hear your answers
Books are supposed to transport the readers, metaphorically, to interesting places. Or perhaps an interesting when rather than where. If the writer is particularly skilled at description, then a story does just that. And especially effective descriptions have the ability to cast a spell over the reader and infect them with a sort of travel lust. I’m not immune to this magic.Here are five stories/authors who managed to bewitch me with their descriptions, and instill in me an intense desire to see their worlds for myself:
New Orleans—The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home. It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard.
I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume” (Interview with the Vampire)I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume” (Interview with the Vampire)The first time I went to New Orleans, it was almost only for the reason of seeing Anne Rice’s home in the Garden District, at the corner of 3rd and Chestnut. But since that took just one afternoon and I’d come all the way from the Midwest, I decided to explore the rest of the city too. I walked the French Quarter and the cemeteries, and I replayed all my favorite scenes and descriptions from the novels in my mind. I thought at any moment I’d turn a corner and see Lestat striding toward me.It’s a unique city, alluring and gorgeous and I knew immediately why it had captured Rice’s imagination. Her descriptions are beautiful and it’s clear that the characters (and most likely the author) has a deep love for the city. This resonates on the page. And it was this fervid devotion that made me want to see it for myself.
Paris—The Paris Wife by Paula McLain “In Paris, you couldn’t really turn around without seeing the result of lovers’ bad decisions. An artist given to sexual excess was almost a cliché, but no one seemed to mind. As long as you were making something good or interesting or sensational, you could have as many lovers as you wanted and ruin them all.” (The Paris Wife)I love Paris. I’ve been three times, once renting an apartment for over a month. I can tell you that the description “Paris is the mother of New Orleans” is apt enough. They are intoxicating for the same reasons—food, sights, art, and so on. But Paris does have the older, mature aura about it. As much as I love Paris as it is today, a bustling metropolitan, surprisingly safe despite being the size of a large US city, I think I would love Paris even more in the 1920s.
It would have all the things I love about it—art, food, culture, history—but it would also be less pressé. That is why I can’t help but enjoy books that immortalize a city I love as it once was. And McLain does a good job of this.
Kyoto—Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden“But what I could see out of the corner of my eye made me think of two lovely bundles of silk floating along a stream. In a moment they were hovering on the walkway in front of me, where they sank down and smoothed their kimono across their knees.” (Memoirs of a Geisha)Known as one of the most beautiful cities in Japan, full of temples and cherry blossoms, and of course, geisha—even to this day. The descriptions in this book were beautiful and heart-wrenching and made me want to visit the city in March or April when the cherry blossoms would be in full bloom. I haven’t yet caved to my Japan travel lust yet, partially just because it is so far away. But I do intend to visit—soonish. And when I do, I want to visit a tea house and have a tea ceremony. I’d want to see the kimonos and temples and shrines. And hopefully get a chance to eat some of the delicious food described in the book!
London—The Cormoran Strike Novels by Robert Galbraith“Seven and a half million hearts were beating in close proximity in this heaving old city, and many, after all, would be aching far worse than his.” (The Cuckoo's Calling)
Okay, so it’s true that Galbraith didn’t have to work hard to instill a lust for London in me. I was already well on my way to loving it because of what I’ve seen in movies, other books and of course, Doctor Who. It could be the nature of following around a charming detective that makes the city seem so mysterious and intriguing, but the descriptions of the neighborhoods and pubs, and bloody hell, even the tube was enough to make me pine for it. And if I have to read one more delicious description of a curry, I’m done for.
Maine—Anything by Stephen King“The boat dipped and swayed and sometimes took on water, but it did not sink; the two brothers had waterproofed it well. I do not know where it finally fetched up, if it ever did; perhaps it reached the sea and sails there forever, like a magic boat in a fairytale. All I know is that it was still afloat and still running on the breast of the flood when it passed the incorporated town limits of Derry, Maine” (It).Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t want to visit the creepiest of King’s fictional towns (*cough, cough* Derry), but for those of your familiar with King’s work, you can’t deny that the author does a lovely job of describing the state. The long country roads, the beautiful coastline, the charming yet dark beneath the surface small town vibe. And because of his descriptions, I feel like I’d know exactly what I’m going to get if I were ever to winter there (it would be like a super Michigan, yeah?)
And we get a taste of the author’s laments of tourists coming in droves just for the leaves each autumn. The seafood. The sailors. The small town shopkeepers and factory workers. Tiny downtown areas and people who have lived in one place their whole life. For all of these descriptions, good or bad, I want to go to Maine.
I would like to not DIE there, mind you, but we can’t get everything we want, now can we?
Kory M. Shrum
author of the Jesse Sullivan fantasy series