Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week, Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. More about TTT.
This week’s theme is “Books I Read On Vacation,” but I haven’t really kept track of those. So I’m going to put a twist on the list and write instead about 5 books on my TBR set in worlds I’d like to visit.
Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel (2022)
Summary: “Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite English society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal – an experience that shocks him to his core. Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for spare change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him. When Gaspery Roberts, a hotel detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City, who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the time line of the universe.”
Why I Want to Visit: I really love books where worlds and/or time periods collide. Punks, portals, and time travel are so much fun to read! And this book looks like a beautiful blend of some of my favorite aspects of those.
Willa of Dark Hollow, Robert Beatty (2021)
Summary: “Willa and her clan are the last of the Faeran, an ancient race of forest people who have lived in the Great Smoky Mountains for as long as the trees have grown there. But as crews of newly arrived humans start cutting down great swaths of the forest she loves, she is helpless to stop them. How can she fight the destroyers of the forest and their powerful machines? When Willa discovers a mysterious dark hollow filled with strange and beautiful creatures, she comes to realize that it contains a terrifying force that seems to be hunting humans. Is unleashing these dangerous spirits the key to stopping the loggers? Willa must find a way to save the people and animals she loves and take a stand against a consuming darkness that threatens to destroy her world.”
Why I Want to Visit: I’ve visited the Great Smoky Mountains many times since early childhood, and Willa‘s world is one to which my heart would happily return at any and every chance.
The House with Chicken Legs, Sophie Anderson (2018)
Summary: “All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with. But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day. So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.”
Why I Want to Visit: From Yanka to Yaga, and all points in between, this world has captivated me since I first read The Girl Who Speaks Bear (2019). I love everything about these woods and the magical realism within.
The Life of Elves, Muriel Barbery (2015)
Summary: “When the harmony between living beings turns to discord, the seasons will be loosed from their moorings and the natural world thrown into disarray; human beings – no longer capable of feeling either empathy or enchantment – will abandon themselves to hate, violence, and war. An epic battle between forces that wish to reestablish harmony in the world and those that wish to shatter it definitively is being waged on earth and in the mysterious land of mist, where the elves dwell. A ragtag army of rural peasants gathers in readiness for the fight – their weapons, an age-old kinship with the land and an affinity for magic. But humankind cannot hope to win this battle alone. Victory depends on help from the inhabitants of a world that is hidden from human sight. Hope rests with Maria and Clara, two girls whose prodigious artistic talents and deep connections with nature make communion with the numinous realm possible.”
Why I Want to Visit: A place where elves help humans save the world? Yeah, sign me up. We need all the help we can get.
The Difference Engine, William Gibson & Bruce Sterling (1990)
Summary: “1855: The Industrial Revolution is in full and inexorable swing, powered by steam-driven cybernetic Engines. Charles Babbage perfects his Analytical Engine and the computer age arrives a century ahead of its time. And three extraordinary characters race toward a rendezvous with history—and the future: Sybil Gerard—a fallen woman, politician’s tart, daughter of a Luddite agitator; Edward “Leviathan” Mallory—explorer and paleontologist; Laurence Oliphant—diplomat, mystic, and spy. Their adventure begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for….”
Why I Want to Visit: Steampunk, as envisioned by the fathers of steampunk. It doesn’t get any better than that.