Jana at The Broke and the Bookish is asking for top ten settings in books:
I went to school in Dorchester and I often claim that I must have read pretty much every book that Thomas Hardy ever wrote (though I doubt I have - it just feels like it). Thomas Hardy assigned fictitious names to the real locations in his books and, in one of those life-imitating-art (or rather local councils and pub landlords copying names from literature) nonsenses, roundabouts, streets and pubs in and around Dorchester now use locations from Hardy's books to identify themselves.
1) 2) & 3) Casterbridge, Weatherbury and Egdon Heath are all fictional places in 'Wessex', Hardy's name for Dorset. My favourites of Hardy's books are Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Return of the Native. If I eat too much rich food at dinner I think of how Gabriel Oak saved Bathsheba's sheep when they broke into a clover field and got bloat. If misunderstood social signals lead to unfortunate consequences I think of Bathsheba sending the valentine's card to Farmer Boldwood. And when I have to make an effortful journey I think of poor Fanny urging herself rung by rung along the fenced path towards the workhouse after she had been wronged by Sgt Troy. All those characters are in Far From the Madding Crowd. Claire Tomalin's biography of Thomas Hardy, The Time-Torn Man, is also interesting, if you like biographies and want to read about him.
4) 5) London. Lovely London. I was born here, moved away when I was a child and then moved back to claim it when I was 18 - in part, I'm sure, because I wanted to inhabit the fictional London I had read about in literature: the London of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and Dickens' novels. My favourite Dickens novel is Our Mutual Friend. Driving past the 'Limehouse link' it seems absurd to think of Eugene Wrayburn walking in darkness along a towpath towards the lime kilns of Limehouse. But there are plenty of olde worlde buildings and locations to visit in London - you can even visit 221b Baker Street and read some of the letters Sherlock Holmes still receives. Every other doorway has a blue plaque confirming that a famous writer once lived at that address. Favourite London books... ach, don't make me choose. If it's got London in it, I'll probably like it.
6) San Francisco. I visited with my daughter soon after reading Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City books which were also serialised on TV by Channel 4 with Olympia Dukakis as Mrs Madrigal. It's a charming city that fulfils all my 'I could live here' criteria: you don't have to drive, and there are plenty of sushi restaurants and gay men.
7) Savannah. I have yet to visit but I have wanted to see the place ever since reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, another of my favourite books.
8) Brixton. OK, it's London again. But this is a specific part of it, where I live. Martin Millar set many of his books here. My favourite is Lux the Poet. It's about a Brixton-based poet on a quest and it's brilliant. Martin Millar is one of those people I'd quite like to meet and wouldn't be able to say anything to if I did because I'd be much too shy to say anything more apposite than 'I love your books' which, coincidentally, is what I said to Margaret Atwood when I met her. It's non-controversially true but unlikely to get me a footnote in anyone's memoirs if I stick to that line every time I meet a favourite author.
9) France. If I'm honest, I started reading French literature because I was in love with the language and the place, rather than falling in love with it after reading about it. Candide is one of my favourite books but much of that doesn't take place in France. So, instead, I'll choose the stories of Guy de Maupassant, my favourite being Boule de Suif which is set during the Franco-Prussian war and concerns a prostitute who shares her picnic with ill-prepared snobbish fellow-travellers as they flee the town of Rouen, and is spurned by them after being pressed into doing something repugnant to her to save their lives. It's a really good story.
10) Japan. Another of my favourite books is The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro by Alison Fell. I met the author once and told her how much I liked it and she said, 'It's a dirty book,' which made me blush. I suppose it is quite rude in parts, but it's beautifully written, and clever, too. Yukio Mishima's life is perhaps more interesting than his books. He committed suicide by seppuku after setting up a private army. My favourite Haruki Murakami novel is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which is the first of his that I ever read. If you like his work and you haven't read Underground, I recommend it - it's a non-fiction account of the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo, told by people who were involved, written by Murakami and translated by Alfred Birnbaum who is my preferred translator of his work.