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Travel Tales: Where We Come From

travel tails feature with rather be reading, alexa loves books, and novel sounds

Once upon a few weeks ago, we were pretty psyched to write a post about books set in the places we are from. You might already know that Magan hails in Austin, Texas and Estelle floats around New York (living in Long Island and commuting to NYC for work every day). Unfortunately, not all plans work out the way we want them to. Here’s just what happened:

magan: what’s the deal, Austin?

So I am pretty disappointed by the lack of books set in Austin. I, personally, haven’t read a single one.

There’s so much here to fall in love with. Austin is a city with a small town kind of feel. We’re trendy in our own ways — we make Toms shoes cool and riding bicycles is something we actually do for fun (and hey, it helps the environment, too). T-shirts and shorts are perfectly acceptable in most restaurants because we’ve got a laid back kind of vibe. Our summers are hot, but we’ve got lakes and natural pools (Hamilton pool) to keep us tan and cooled off during the summer months. We’re dog-rescuing, music-loving, Alamo Drafthouse-moving-watching kinda folks. (Yep, that’s right y’all – our movie theaters serve food AND ADULT BEVERAGES). We’re a wide mix of cultures – a definite melting pot of people. Austin is the city that sticks out on the map of Texas in the sea of red during election years. Austin is a city that’s hard to leave behind (I speak from experience — we tried to move away and came back after a year).

So tell me, why aren’t there more books set in Austin?


While we brainstorm this conundrum, lemme say that NYC never fails to entrance me with its lights and fast-paced ways. (In fact, way back when, I thought I might actually move there.) So I’m sharing my three favorite books with fabulous NY settings:

travel tales book event, books set in new york city, lack of books set in austin texas

Bunheads by Sophie Flack: a 19-year old girl has to decide if she wants to continue pursuing a career as a professional ballerina. She’s tempted to throw away all her hard work for an NYU boy.
Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg: four performing art school students in NYC try to figure out their lives and what they’ll move on to accomplish post-graduation.
Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman: Adam reconnects with Mia after one of her performances at the symphony in NYC. As they reconnect, they explore the city.

(Observation: It seems my picks are all performance driven. Is that ME and what i’m attracted to reading? Or is that what’s available?)

estelle: the riches of new york.

New York City is a hot spot that sits on the highest pedestal. Even someone like me, who grew up in New Jersey, could never get over the majesty of NYC. I loved the bright lights, the bustling people, how it seemed like everything was always happening there. Even though I grew up only 10 miles away, my parents would take my sister and I into the city one time a year. I remember how much fun those days were and also how miserable it was to leave — because just like Christmas, I would have to wait an entire year to visit again. These days, sometimes I want to pinch myself because I get to spend every day walking the streets of NYC (when I’m not hanging out in the fluorescent lights of my office) or call a doctor because well, New York can be entirely overwhelming.

When it comes to books about this crazy town, I do enjoy both the tourist treat and the locals who make living in the big city seem like a walk in the park. Here are a few of my “big apple” picks:

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg: An oldie but goodie from my elementary school days. Siblings run away to the MET. This book is all about adventure and mystery.
Love Story by Jennifer Echols: I spent two years of my undergrad at a school in NYC and I related to Erin’s character a lot (although I wasn’t writing sultry romance pieces… I can only imagine how my class would react to that). I liked reading about a college age kid in NYC for the first time and in an environment I could picture so well.
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan: David does a beautiful job of of describing the initial reactions to 9/11 and how it affects three people. This book was so on target, so emotional, and for someone who experienced 9/11 from a close distance (if that makes sense), it felt very true to the mixed bag of feelings — the grief, the disconnect, the healing — penetrating the area at this time.


I’ve read two of the only books we’ve found to be set in Austin:

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker: Country music, Austin landmarks, and a cowboy next door. This book is so much fun and offers a lot more than the cover promises.
Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham: …and it feels so good! (I couldn’t help myself.) I just finished this book about 3 ex-best friends who find themselves on a road trip to see their favorite band perform in Austin. Honestly, very little time is spent on Austin but hey, it still makes an important appearance.

As a two-time tourist and lover of this town (because two of my best friends live here and it just has an awesome overall feeling), I thought one of these captured the fab-ness of Austin best. I like how both of them had some sort of musical plotline. Seems like NYC and Austin have that in common.


We want to hear from you. Are there any locales you would like to see represented in your reading pile? Also, if you know of any Austin-ish books, please share!

other places to run off to:

alexa: dreams of traveling (book locales)
novel sounds: soundtracking your reading adventures
alexa: alaska with kristilynn (guest post)
giveaway: kissing shakespeare by pam tingle (time travel)
alexa: getting to your destination (through reading)
novel sounds: let’s go visit harry potter (please)
alexa: intro & birthday giveaway (yay)

August 26, 2012 - 12:02 am

Magan: Shelve It -- August 26, 2012 - […] a guest post by sam from realm of fiction the aussies know how to write (australian books to read) alexa: dreams of traveling (book locales) novel sounds: soundtracking your reading adventures alexa: alaska […]

August 20, 2012 - 12:04 am

Novel Sounds - […] Be Reading: Guest post from Pam Mingle, author of Kissing Shakespeare. Also with a giveaway! Settings from home destinations. Fantastic settings in […]

August 19, 2012 - 12:16 am

Estelle: Shelve It from Rather Be Reading Blog (8/19/2012) - […] Ruth by Zoe Fishman (adult fiction) Books set in our hometown (kind of) Speechless by Hannah Harrington (upcoming YA fiction) City of Women by David Gillham (adult […]

August 17, 2012 - 6:54 am

VeganYANerds - It’s a shame when there aren’t too many YA books set in your home town or state but I bet there are some out there, hopefully some bloggers will let you know!

August 17, 2012 - 2:23 am

Kristen - Can I just say that I LOVE that you included ‘From the Mixed-Up Files’? One of the best. books. ever! 😀 Lovely post, ladies.

August 16, 2012 - 12:09 pm

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - One of the reasons I adore living in New York City is because I’m finally living in the place where lots of books I loved are set. It’s amazing, this place, filled with lots of energy, eclectic crowds and just so many things to do. It’s always fun to read books set in NYC!

But Austin, I have yet to read a book set there. In fact, I have yet to visit. Which I believe ought to be remedied and soon!

August 16, 2012 - 10:04 am

Tara - I cannot help but feel giddy every time I read a book set in Chicago or Michigan. I about fell out of my chair reading An Abundance of Katherines because part of it took place IN MY HOOD. *queue major squealing* I’m going to have to put my thinking cap on for books set in Austin… I’ll let you know if I find any 🙂

August 16, 2012 - 10:00 am

Jaime - I stumbled upon your blog via a mention on Twitter, and thought I’d pop in and mention a book I read recently that was set in Austin. It’s called Austentatious and features a little bit of Austen in Austin and a Scottish love interest. It’s an adult book, and it was pretty decent. Just thought I’d mention it. 🙂

August 16, 2012 - 9:55 am

elena - my first visit to NYC wasn’t that great so I was pretty ambivalent towards it for awhile. then I visited it again last year with friends and it was SO AMAZING. now all I want to do is go back!! I absolutely love that there’s always something to do there. I’d love to live there, especially while I’m still young.

surprisingly, I’ve read one book with Orlando as its hometown (Paper Towns by John Green) and since John Green is from Indiana, I am pretty sure he’s written at least one book with it as its setting? yes/no/maybe? I know Meg Cabot definitely have cos that’s how I heard of John Mellencamp!

love this post, ladies!! <3

August 16, 2012 - 9:23 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I feel like I’ve read books set in Texas that referenced Austin (maybe the character visited there) but the whole story didn’t necessarily take place there. I need to think on this…

As for NYC: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares come to mind. David Levithan loves NYC 😉

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