The Top 5 Most Spectacular Settings We’ve Read About (So Far)

Over the past two days, I took a mini vacation to a little shore village in Italy. The town, which rested on the coast next to Italy’s Cinque Terre was pure perfection. Isolated from the rest of the world, this charming village swept me away from my hectic life back home. And the best part—I didn’t have to pay for air fare!

Now to be honest, I didn’t actually go there, but I went there in my book. Over the past two days, I powered through Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins and via his detailed descriptions, was completely transported to the sleepy village of Porto Vergogna (at least in my mind). It was the perfect mini vacation I needed and because I had such a lovely trip, I decided that this week I would list 5 of my favorite places we have traveled to (thus far) with The Not So Book Club Book Club.

1. Porto Vergogna, Italy from Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins

ImageUnfortunately, Porto Vergogna is a fictional place but since Walter’s chose this image as the cover of his book, I think this is probably the closest we are going to get to finding an image of this 1960’s paradise. In the novel, the tiny village only has one hotel, The Hotel Adequate View (owned by our beloved Pasquale Tursi), and features basically nothing else. However, there is one other hidden gem in this coastal town—a small cave that is beautifully adorned with paintings created by a traveling German soldier during World War 2. All I need is a time machine and a miracle to get there.

2. Kabul, Afghanistan in the 1950’s as featured in Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed

ImageIn Hosseini’s book, he describes how vibrant and exciting the pre-conflict Kabul was in the 1950’s. He painted a city that was rich in culture and richer in scenery. Resting in a valley and surrounded by incredible mountain ranges, the Kabul of today still holds much of the beauty of it’s past. I hope to one day see these gorgeous mountains in person, when Kabul finds peace yet again. In the meantime, I’ll just swoon over the pictures.

3. The International Space Station from Col. Chris Hadfield’s An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth


I mean really… do I need to give a reason why this one made the list? Col. Chris Hadfield served as Chief of the International Space Station from 2006-2008, which means he got to see this view for 2 YEARS! Lucky guy. For those of you who listened to this month’s podcast  you know I’d give anything for that experience. So Universe, give me space! Give me zero gravity! Give me that view of our beautiful planet! I’ll take that over any other trip (even if it’s only for 10 minutes).

4. The Open Sea! As sailed in Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder 



Apparently I want to be a pirate. I never knew this until I read this book and then quickly followed it with J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S. (Ship of Theses). For an entire month, I was obsessed with the idea of sailing the seven seas. True, there is a lot of turmoil that accompanies the pirate life, but there are also a lot of pluses. 1. I love the motion of the ocean. I have never gotten sea sick (knock on wood), and I love the gentle rocking that comes with riding the waves. Sure, I know that as a pirate you have the potential to hit a storm, but until then, give me my sea legs! 2. What a fantastic tan you would develop on the deck of a pirate ship! I could easily transform my uber whiteness to a delicious off white! And really, who wouldn’t prefer working all day out in the sun over working all day under florescent lights? And 3. Fresh sea food! Crab legs. Tilapia. Tuna. Shrimp! No further explanation needed.

Man… I need to book a cruise.

5. The Circus Tents of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus


I loved the concept of the mystical Le Cirque des Rêves tents in Morgenstern’s book. For those of you who have not read this one, each tent featured something intensely magical, may it be a heavenly maze constructed entirely of clouds, or the Ice Garden that transported circus patrons to a Narnia-esque winter paradise (where you didn’t even need a coat!) The idea that you could hop from one magical location to the next in mere minutes is too perfect for any adventure seeker or magic lover, and I like to consider myself as both.

And those, my friends, are my top 5 favorite settings we’ve read about so far! Send us your favorite settings by writing to the NSBCBC blog, posting on our facebook page, or tweeting us at @notsobookclub. And don’t forget to listen to this month’s podcast, found here!

Keep reading, NSBCBCers! Lots of Love!

– Nina Sclafani

Founder of The Not So Book Club Book Club


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