Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All)

by - July 23, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY is hosted by That Arsty Reader Girl. She provides weekly topics for book bloggers to discuss. See more info here

This is going to be niche and ultra-specific, because I want to have fun ;)

Settings I'd Like to See More of (Or At All) in English-language Books

1. Creepy college campuses where someone commits murder

Bring on more dark academia! Preferably less Riverdale and more THE SECRET HISTORY. I like my liberal arts students bathed in blood while they try to solve (or cover up) some hideous crime...

2. Asian settings that actually feel like Asia, not the West with Asian food and clothing slapped onto it

Perhaps this will be a blog post for another day. EMPIRE OF SAND author Tasha Suri wrote a fantastic Twitter thread on the topic HERE. For the most part, I love Asian fantasies, but sometimes the worldbuilding isn't immersive enough. Culture is an iceberg, and writers forget that attitudes, values, and behaviors are just as important as external indicators like food or clothing. There's nothing more jarring than reading a historical Indian fantasy, for example, and having everyone act like Americans.

3. Magical libraries in fantasy

Yes, I'm talking about SORCERY OF THORNS. Eight years ago, I also started obsessing over an anime and light novel series called Dantalian no Shoka, which also featured magical grimoires. And honestly, what bookworm doesn't want to read about books coming alive and being used to cast wicked spells? Give me more glorified librarian-warrior protagonists!

4. Asian dieselpunk

Think that Love, Death, & Robots episode Good Hunting meets Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra. This is just so cool and has amazing potential. Imagine blimps and mechanical monsters flying through Hong Kong skyscrapers! Plus, in true punk fashion, it's perfect for social commentary. There's a lot to be said about modernism, national identity, and neo-imperialism if you write dieselpunk in Southeast Asia.

5. Isolated forests

Maybe it's because I've lived in a city my whole life, but I'm always fascinated by deep, dark forests. Especially if they're the deadly fairy tale kind.

6. The Arctic, or any other desolate, eternally wintry place

Ever since I watched that X-Files episode about that creature in the Arctic ice, I've been intrigued by the idea of horror stories taking place in the Arctic. I mean, it's perfect. You have harsh, unforgiving weather. Darkness almost all-year round. A closed circle. Blinding white snow as far as the eye can see. Deadly monsters that may or may not be there...

7. Fandom spaces

Honestly, I'm still too embarrassed to read books about fangirls, because I can't easily forget all the years I spent hiding my hobbies. But nowadays being a geek is mainstream, and fans can shout about their passions in broad daylight. Well, there's no shortage of fandom books, but I still want more of them. Characters meeting at conventions, or online, or as gaming buddies. Give me nerds in love.


More than anything, I'm desperate for a vibe. It doesn't matter if the novel has fairies or witches or dragons. All I really want is to read about a magical world that feels like a warm cup of tea. Something that focuses on characters and relationships, and has an old-timey vibe. Even if the world is at stake, it should still feel comforting to read. It should feel like a Ghibli movie. You know, give us a protagonist with an ordinary job and a comfortable but boring life... and let them set out on an adventure! [I know that sounds like LOTR and the Hobbit, but those are epic fantasies and characters die tragically, so they don't count]

I also suggest watching Violet Evergarden if you love this setting. Warning: it WILL make you sob like a baby, though.

9. The Roaring Twenties

Did you know that I used to have a gangster fiction phase? Give me lavish, Gatsby-esque parties and hidden speakeasies and a soundtrack full of big band jazz! I would also LOVE to see more fantasy set in the twenties. The only ones I can think of are Fantastic Beasts and a super fun anime and light novel series called Baccano!

10.  Really weird alien planets

Something along the lines of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. I don't want another planet that's basically a carbon copy of something else in our solar system. I don't want something that's weird but funny. I want something that is terrifyingly strange. Somewhere the protagonist does not belong... and is not welcome to.

So that's my list of ten settings I wish I could see more of in English-language books! What about you? Any settings you want to see? Anything you agree with?

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  1. I'm totally up for more really weird alien planets. Have you ever read "Semiosis" by Sue Burke? It might be right up your alley. I blogged a review of it a while ago, too.

    My TTT.

    1. Interesting, thank you for the rec! I just read your review and yes, I prefer character-driven plotlines too, but a hopeful sci-fi story? Nice...

  2. What is it about forests? I don't know, but I love them, too.

    1. Forests are so magical and have the potential to fit into any genre! Thank you for commenting :)

  3. Ooh roaring 20s would be great for a book!

    My TTT

  4. Have you read any Carol Goodman? She writes Gothic thrillers. You might like her ARCADIA FALLS, which is set at an isolated boarding school that's hiding big secrets :)

    Happy TTT!

    1. Woah, I've heard of LAKE OF DEAD LANGUAGES but not that one! Thank you for the rec :D *adds to to-read pile*

  5. Number 2 is so on point. Asian countries slapped with the most obvious choice for representation when it comes to food and clothing isn't enough. One also has to consider the ones you mentioned because even a single Asian country can have multiple of cultures. One gotta be specific and pay respect to it.

    Oh and I'm glad you're embracing the geek in you. We should be proud of that^^

    1. So true! Sometimes the "obvious choice for representation" just ends up feeling shallow... *sigh* I'm glad you get it

      And thank you. Us geeks have to be proud of ourselves and each other :)

  6. Wonderful post, and I agree with so many of these! I really want more books set in liberal arts colleges in general, but creepy colleges are definitely a plus. Also, I'm a sucker for dark, spooky forest settings. I thought The Devouring Gray did that exceptionally well; I just loved the whole dark, atmospheric feel to it.

    I'd recommend The Diviners by Libba Bray if you haven't read it! It's set in 1920s New York, but it's very dark in the sense that it chooses to focus on the dark sides of the 20s, on top of the glam and bluster. Libba Bray integrates social commentary and discriminatory law against Black people and Chinese-Americans at that time so well, in my opinion. :)

    1. YESSS! Thanks for the recs -- they sound so fascinating. I've already picked up a copy of The Devouring Gray

      I just recently learned that the "creepy college"/"dark liberal arts school" novel has an actual genre name: dark academia. The more you know!