writing

Looking for a novel about a place?

23 Comments 19 November 2013

Where are you reading?

Where would you like to read about?

When I travel to a new place I read many travel reviews, I like to buy guidebooks and maps (regular readers know how much I love maps) and I often search for novels set in that location. But trying to find a novel set in a place, unless very well known or with the location in the title (i.e. A Year in Provence) is sometimes more difficult than you might think.

Until now. A friend on Facebook shared a link to a site called Placing Literature (that links to the map, check it out!) with a map that has locations of settings pinned all across it. Going to Greenland? There’s a book (or a scene at least) set there! Antarctica? The same.

Created by a collaboration between an author and a geographer, I recommend this post on their blog to explain what they’re doing: Placing Literature.

And this isn’t just a fantastic resource for travellers who love to read, but writers as well. Looking up a location to see what else has been written about a place can be interesting research (or is that just me?).

There’s a Placing Literature Facebook page as well. Have alook and share it because this is a great project to support!

 

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23 Comments so far

  1. I love this idea, …though to be fair I usually end up reading after I’ve got back from a place!

  2. becky says:

    What a brilliant idea!

  3. Pinkoddy says:

    What a great idea.

  4. Mammasaurus says:

    I love this idea – how cool off to find some for places I’ve been before. Could add a whole new dimension to trips!

  5. That’s such a brilliant concept, love it. Thanks, will spread the word :-)

  6. Ali Clifford says:

    fab concept! love this idea…

  7. Thanks for the nice words, Michelle. As a crowdsourcing website, we rely on the input of book lovers around the world, so I really encourage your readers to map the scenes from their favorite novels. The more information is placed on the map, the more useful for everyone it will be.

    • Thank you for this info Andrew. I can see that people can log in by using their Google account in order to add books. Is there any monitoring system to prevent errors or sabotage? I can see this becomming very popular. (I hope so anyway. As you say, the more books in there the better!)

      • The Google Login simply lets us associate every piece of data with a user so we can ensure accuracy and prevent SPAM. We also have a “Report an Error” button that goes to the co-founders. One of us will work with the original poster and the flagger to address the issue, and it’s usually resolved within 24-48 hours. Eventually, we want the site to be self-policed through a true wiki model where users simply correct errors themselves like Wikipedia, but we understand that we need to implement some safeguards to prevent good data from being replaced by bad–as well as preventing advertising and SPAM.

  8. Inspired idea. I’m off to see how many books are set in my favourite places around the world x

  9. That’s so cool! I’m going to have a hunt around and see what intriguing books I can find – thank you for sharing!

  10. Caroline says:

    Michelle,Thanks for sharing!

  11. iyas says:

    What a wonderful resource.I could see a layering of history over the top of this so you could go to specific periods of time in a place. Thanks for sharing, Michelle.

  12. Fantastic idea. Will have to add my novel to that map once it’s published. Like… um… never… ;-) xx

  13. Research is always fun. I usually set my writing somewhere I’m familiar with. Not invariably though. I’ve never been to South Carolina, but I got round that problem by inventing a town so I could pretty much do what I liked.
    I’m like you. I love maps.

  14. Dvora says:

    I love the idea but the website doesn’t seem very function — at least I was unable to contact the owners. I was thinking of traveling to Marseille next year so I found myself a novel (noir) Total Chaos written and set there by a native. I’ve already read several books by Marcel Pagnol who was from there. The website has only book that I could find related to Marseille which is why I tried to contact the owner. Maybe their information for the US is better, but for Europe, it seems pretty slim.

    • It is meant to be added to by the audience (like Wikipedia), as this is the best way for it to grow into a truly comprehensive source. So if you know of a novel about a place and it isn’t listed on this site, then log in and add it! Your contribution will be greatly appreciated by the audience that follows you onto the site I’m sure :)

      Have a read through the comments for further info.

      • Dvora says:

        Ah ha. I didn’t log in. It would also be good if the “contact” button worked, but I’ll see about logging in and listing some of my favorite books. Thanks!

      • Dvora says:

        Failure again. I loged in but wasn’t able to add the novel I’m currently reading to Marseille. All I can do is pull up the one entry there already is.

        • As it’s a new site I am sure the creators are still working through any issues that come up and will welcome your feedback. However, this might be a difficult week for them to respond to any emails you’ve sent as today is a national holiday in the States and many people also take tomorrow and the weekend to spend time with family and friends. They were quick to respond to me, so hopefully next week they will have the chance to catch up on emails and discuss your concerns with you. I’m sure they’ll be delighted that people are taking such great interest in the site!

          • Hi Dvora, this is Andrew Bardin Williams, a co-founder of Placing Literature. Sorry you’re having trouble contacting us, but the ‘Contact’ and ‘Report an Error’ links seem to be working fine. Regardless, feel free to drop me a line at info(at)placingliterature.com. We’re always open to feedback.


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An American writer in the UK for over 20 years. Lives in Essex. A pretend extrovert.

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