Top Ten Settings in Books
10. Diagon Alley from Harry Potter
I thought I'd get the obvious one out of the way. I've specified Diagon Alley because I have no desire to venture anywhere where epic battles between good and evil are taking place - if I could enter the world of Harry Potter, I would be content to just live a simple witch's life. All I would want, would be to travel via the Floo Network, sup a Butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron, check out my vault at Gringotts, shop at Ollivanders and Madam Malkins and try to catch a Weasley boy's attention at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes (what do you mean, they're all taken?!)
9. The Capitol from The Hunger Games
Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to be a spectator of the cruel, sadistic Games. But I would love to wear the outlandish clothes, try out the brightly-coloured dyes, taste the delicious food and generally live the happy, pampered life of a citizen of the Capitol.
8. The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women from Gallagher Girls
What I wouldn't give to have a solid education in Covert Operations and Protection and Enforcement, to be fluent in 14 different languages and to wear those cute skirts. On top of that, the building sounds gorgeous: ivy-covered walls, big windows and sweeping staircases. And it's an explorer's dream; full of hidden levels to discover and secret passages to hide in. When can I enrol?
7. The Rose & Grave tomb from Secret Society Girl
OK, so outside it's a creepy graveyard, but inside it's a luxurious haven for the rich and the powerful. Huge rooms holding priceless artwork, an indoor swimming pool, a personal chef, an amazing library and a bunch of people who have pledged their loyalty to you forever.
6. Malory Towers
Forget Hogwarts, if I had to choose only one boarding school, I'd still opt for Malory Towers. It may not house any wizards, but having midnight feasts, swimming in the nearby sea, playing tricks on Mam'zelle and winning at lacrosse is more than enough magic for me.
5. Sweet Valley from Sweet Valley High
Living in Sweet Valley means being stunningly pretty and well-off (odds are you won't be one of the 2 poor and ugly people in town), attending a school that has proms, dances or spring flings practically every week and having tons of good-looking football and basketball players who want to date you. You will get the chance to try every career going (journalist! fashion model! soap star!), travel to glamorous locales (London! New York! Hawaii!) and while you may experience some minor difficulties (evil twins! evil cults! evil werewolves!), everything will always turn out all right. And most importantly, time works differently there, allowing you to enjoy a never-ending amount of Christmases and summer vacations.
4. Earth in the year 2057 from This Place Has No Atmosphere
This book was the first to make me feel sad about getting old. I was only 11 or so when I read it, but I calculated how old I would be in 2057 and was devastated to realise I'd be too elderly to fully enjoy the awesome place Paula Danziger was telling me earth would be. Walkmen earrings, mood clothing, communicating with friends via hologram and being able to live on the moon...I'm hoping Danziger underestimated Earth scientists and we'll have this all while I'm still young.
3. The Mortmain's castle from I Capture the Castle
Is there anything more atmospheric and romantic than a beautiful but crumbling English castle? In my imaginary life, I came of age in such a place; strolling around the English countryside, living with charming eccentrics and scribbling quaint and touching observations about life in my journal.
2. Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The chocolate river, lickable wallpaper, the Everlasting Gobstopper, edible pavements, bushes, grass, everything. 20 years after first reading, I'm still drooling.
1. New York
From numerous novels. It's my favourite place in life and it's my favourite place in fiction. I love everything about New York - I love the cultures, the fashion, the museums, the club life, the subways, the parks, the food, the street performers, the hustlers, the taxicabs...I could go on and eventually include the muggers and the sex workers. But I love it all and it's real and more exciting than any place you could make up.