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It is true that when I’m reading a great book, I often develop such an attachment to the characters that I think about them for weeks after I finish the story. They become dear friends that I truly miss when our time together is over.  Well-developed characters are not the only parts of a book that can capture my affection, though.  When an author presents a creatively imagined and richly detailed setting, I can just as easily fall in love with the where of the story as I can with the who.

Over the course of my reading life, I’ve wandered through many such crush-worthy places – extraordinary pieces of pretend real estate that I would gladly sacrifice youth, beauty, wealth something really valuable to experience in person if I ever had the opportunity.  Some of these places are whole worlds, some are neighborhoods, and some are single structures.  Regardless of size or complexity, they are all magical, mysterious, and/or especially atmospheric.

Because I enjoy a good list, and because The Daily Post suggested that I should make a list about anything under the sun, I thought I’d take this opportunity to list my favorite fictional places.  Perhaps, after reading my list, you will think of favorites of your own.  If you do, please share!  I would love to hear about them – I’m always looking for new travel destinations.

And so, without further delay and in no particular order, I give you:

Fictional Places I would L-O-V-E to Visit

  • Middle Earth (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien). Anyone who really knows me isn’t the least bit surprised by this.  Some places of particular interest include Bag End and the Shire, Fangorn Forest and the Ents, Beorn’s home, The Lonely Mountain (preferably with Smaug and the treasure still inside), the Great Hall in Moria, the plains of Rohan, and, of course, Rivendell and Lothlorien.  A year would not be enough time to travel around Tolkein’s world, savoring the natural beauty and the varied cultures of hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards, and men.
  • Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis).  I would want the whole experience including entrance by wardrobe, a tour of all the historical places (the lamppost, Mr. Tumnus’ home, the beavers’ dam, the stone table, the battlefield, etc.) and meeting Aslan in person.  This would definitely be a dream come true.
  • Le Cirque des Rêves (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern).  Who could possibly resist a sophisticated circus that is only open from dusk to dawn, is created and maintained by magic, and contains tents that delight the senses and stimulate the imagination?  Certainly not me.  My favorite tent, Bedtime Stories, Eventide Rhapsodies, Anthologies of Memory has a black ceiling of twinkling stars and is filled with bottles full of complex, memory-inducing scents.
  • Fairyland (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente).  The version of Fairyland described in this book is delightful and I want to explore every inch of it.  However, I think I would spend the most time in the Autumn Provinces, where the light is always perfectly golden late afternoon sunshine and the wind smells of baking bread, apples, and smoke.
  • The monastery library (The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco).  For some strange reason, I find this library, with its booby traps and difficult navigation, to be very intriguing.  Not to mention, of course, the actual books that would be housed in such a library in 1327.  Add to that the ability to witness the monks creating their illuminated manuscripts, and I would be in bibliophile heaven.
  • The chocolate factory (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl).  Willy Wonka doesn’t just make the most delicious chocolate and candy in the world, he does it in the most creatively beautiful factory in the world.  He says, “I insist upon my rooms being beautiful! I can’t abide ugliness in factories!”  Sign me up for the Golden Ticket Tour that includes the chocolate waterfall and eatable landscaping in The Chocolate Room, a cruise on the chocolate river in a candy boat, a peek into The Inventing Room, and a ride in The Great Glass Elevator that can go anywhere in any direction.  Include tons of samples (The Inventing Room excepted) and end the tour with a toast of Fizzy Lifting Drinks and some singing and dancing with the Oompa-Loompas.  What a day to dazzle the senses that would be!
  • The underground home of the rats (Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O’Brien).  Admittedly, ordinary rat dwellings don’t interest me at all.  But these are no ordinary rats.  They are extremely intelligent research subjects who escape their science institute prison and make a home beneath Mr. Fitzgibbon’s old rosebush.  Their home of tunnels and rooms is lighted with small Christmas tree lights covered by pieces of colored glass.  The floors are covered with plush carpeting.  And a fresh breeze keeps everything from smelling dank and musty.  With an elevator, a library, a grand meeting hall, and door after mysterious door begging to be opened, this compound is perfect for some serious exploration.

If I could, I would also add Harry Potter’s world to my list.  But, since I’ve only seen the movies and never actually read the books (gasp!), I will refrain from discussing how very much I would enjoy spending some time at Hogwart’s and the surrounding environs.

Now, the only tricky bit is figuring out how to travel to one of these places.  Does anyone have an old wardrobe filled with fur coats they aren’t using?  Or how about a magic ring that will send me to the Wood between the Worlds.  Just thought I’d ask…

And now, what are your thoughts?  What fictional world would you most like to visit?

(Image found at www.lordofthediscs.com)