Friday, March 09, 2012

Books that make me want to travel ... to California

I've really been enjoying this feature, Books That Make Me Want to Travel, in which I write about books that have made me yearn to travel to new and different places. This week's however, will be slightly different. They are books that center around specific places, but places I've been before, several times.

What makes the following books set in California so interesting is the nostalgia-inducing feelings or that they represent settings in books very different to how I would imagine them. Hope you enjoy!

San Francisco

San Francisco is a place that I've been to on many an occasion. My dad grew up not far away from San Francisco, but still in the Bay area, and we have both family and friends of the family that still live there. My family and I would drive down from Alaska or Oregon, wherever we were living at the time, maybe twice a year and spend some time with my aunt and uncle.

Even so, when I think of San Francisco, I think of the credits from one of my favourite programmes as a child - Full House. I think of the Golden Gate bridge, cable cars, those cute houses all crammed together. I like those images in my head of San Francisco. Thinking about them now makes me happy and reminiscent of my childhood.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - Reading Lola and the Boy Next Door felt very similar to watching the credits to Full House. It felt like Stephanie Perkins took a lot of really memorable or iconic places from San Francisco and inserted them into this fun and funny love story about an eccentric girl falling in love the geeky boy next door.

Books like Lola and the Boy Next Door really make me happy. Not only is the book something rather sweet and romantic, but San Francisco really stands out in my memory as a great place to fall in love.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg - Absolutely the same thing goes for this book by Jess Rothenberg. Despite the sort of sad premise of the story (a girl dies of an actual broken heart), this book had me grinning at the references to San Francisco. I love that the way to real life from the afterlife is to fall from the Golden Gate bridge.

I thought it was cute seeing our main character go on dates and spend time at the beach and the fact that most of this book takes place in a pizza place. It was cute seeing San Francisco in brief glimpses as Brie struggles through the five stages of grief towards acceptance.

Los Angeles

When I think of Los Angeles, I most often think of the superficiality that comes with acting and Hollywood. I'd probably think of glamour and palm trees and celebrities and handprints on the sidewalk.

I think that's what makes the following two books so very different. That Susanne Winnacker and Marie Lu chose Los Angeles as their setting for a zombie book and a post-apocalyptic book. Yay for bringing us something familiar and twisting it into something unrecognisable!

The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker - When I think of Los Angeles, 'zombies' would be pretty far down my list. It's such a densely populated area, that I found it absolutely creepy and beyond eerie when our characters are faced with a Los Angeles that is empty. A Los Angeles without cars or traffic or people - only zombies.

I really loved imagining this place in such a different way. It made me things fun and interesting for me. As Sherry and Joshua drive around LA hunting zombie nests in search of Sherry's father, I couldn't get the image out of my head of what they were doing. Absolutely fab.

Legend by Marie Lu - And again in Legend, I loved seeing Los Angeles torn apart by war and separated into different sections, filled with poor people, beggars, homeless people. All struggling to get by as the United States has been at war with itself for such a long time.

This Los Angeles of the future isn't as easily recognisable as it is now. It's citizens are ruled by a government with secrets to hide. There's tests to pass and the Plague to deal with. I love that we are able to see a dual-perspective, giving us insight and details into both the privileged government soldier and also the slum-criminal.

Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton - This book is not like the others. This is a contemporary love story and I have not read it. I only include it because I have such high expectations for it.

I thought Keris Stainton really brought New York City alive with Jessie Hearts NYC and I'm really hoping to see the same done for this book. I'd love to yearn for LA in the same way I did to New York after reading it!

Have you got any favourite books that make you want to travel to California? San Francisco? Los Angeles?


  1. Thank you! Ooh, I really home Emma makes you yearny... :)

  2. Great post! That groaning sound you can hear is my wishlist growing a little longer!

  3. Great post! I REALLY want to go to the San Fransciso, in fact I've never been to the states but if someone turned up on my door telling me theres a job going in San Francisio and its mine... I'd be there like a shot even though I've never been, its just one of those places you know (of course I'd check that it was all legit first!)

    1. I think San Francisco is really beautiful and just the West coast in general is where I'd move back to, if I could :)


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