The best books that transport you to another time and place

Who am I?

I believe worldbuilding is as important as realistic dialogue, engaging characters, and a well-paced plot. Worldbuilding is a key component of stories that take place in a contemporary high school, in the court of Henry VIII, or in some far-off land that only exists in the author’s imagination. I worldbuild in layers: 1. What happens in the characters’ daily lives; 2. Environment: religion, culture, social hierarchies, setting; and 3. Relevant historical events/figures/details. Worlds should be so well thought out that there’s no room for the reader to be distracted or confused. When the worldbuilding is good, you’ll be so engrossed that the only distraction you’ll have is wondering what happens next.


I wrote...

Waking Fire

By Jean Louise,

Book cover of Waking Fire

What is my book about?

Naira Khoum has only known life in Lagusa, a quiet village at the desert's end. But to the rest of the world, Lagusa is a myth, its location shrouded in secrecy. While war rages to the north led by power-hungry Sothpike and his army of undead monsters called Dambi, Naira's people live in peace. Until the impossible happens—Lagusa is attacked by a Mistress sent to do Sothpike's bidding with a hoard of Dambi under her control. The Mistress is looking for something, and she's willing to let her Dambi destroy Lagusa to get it.

Naira convinces her twin brother Nez and handsome refugee Kal to join the newly formed resistance with her. Together, they'll have to figure out what the Mistress wants—before there's nothing left of Lagusa to save.

The books I picked & why

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Mistborn: The Final Empire

By Brandon Sanderson,

Book cover of Mistborn: The Final Empire

Why this book?

The dreary desolation of the ash-covered Final Empire sets the tone for this heist story featuring a ragtag band of revolutionaries intent on taking down the immortal Lord Ruler. From the dark streets and seedy bars where the heroes make their plans to the lux parties of the elite, the Final Empire is as much a part of the story as the characters. Most of the story takes place in Luthadel, the capital city where their target, the Lord Ruler, reigns over a city being crushed under the weight of so much inequity and hopelessness. Sanderson builds this world so well that by the end of the prologue, you understand why things have to change and you’re willing to go to the extremes along with the characters to make that happen.

Mistborn: The Final Empire

By Brandon Sanderson,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Mistborn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brandon Sanderson - the international phenomenon who finished the Wheel of Time sequence - introduces a fantasy trilogy which overturns the expectations of readers and goes on to tell the epic story of evil overturned in a richly imagined world.

A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash…


Dawn Land

By Joseph Bruchac,

Book cover of Dawn Land

Why this book?

If you’ve ever wondered what life was like for the people living in the Americas after the last ice age, then read this book. Through the eyes of Young Hunter, we explore what we now call New England thousands of years before the first Europeans crossed the Atlantic. And through Young Hunter, we learn to use weapons, how to survive in the wild, Native American folktales and names, and we learn why Young Hunter’s people fear beings called the Ancient Ones. All of these worldbuilding layers are revealed as Young Hunter embarks on a dangerous journey tracking the creatures that attacked his people, with each layer drawing you in until you are as fearful of the Ancient Ones as Young Hunter and just as determined to face them.

Dawn Land

By Joseph Bruchac,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dawn Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book


And I Darken

By Kiersten White,

Book cover of And I Darken

Why this book?

This historical fiction takes you deep into the Ottoman Empire of the 1400s. Lada and Radu are sent to live among the sultan’s court in exchange for their father, Vlad Dracul, retaining his hold on the throne of Wallachia. The story begins in Wallachia then moves to the sultan’s palace. The contrast between these two places, from the descriptions of the food, landscape, and people to the different customs of these oft-opposed cultures (one Muslim, the other Christian) is brought to vivid life through White’s engaging prose.

And I Darken

By Kiersten White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And I Darken as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times Bestseller!

“Absolutely riveting.” —Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds

This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters and a fearsome heroine. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in the And…


Fingersmith

By Sarah Waters,

Book cover of Fingersmith

Why this book?

When I first read Fingersmith, I was so impressed that a contemporary author had written a book so rooted in the aesthetics of the Victorian time period that I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Waters had been transported from Victorian England to the present via a time machine. Everything about the book feels authentic, from the language and writing style that seems to be ripped straight from the pages of a book published in the 1800s, to the characters themselves who come across as darker, more mature versions of characters from Dickens’ novels. Fingersmith is worldbuilding at its finest and a must for anyone interested in historical fiction, Victoriana, scheming, devious, sly, and cunning characters, and the most shocking plot twist of the 19th and 21st centuries.

Fingersmith

By Sarah Waters,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Fingersmith as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Oliver Twist with a twist…Waters spins an absorbing tale that withholds as much as it discloses. A pulsating story.”—The New York Times Book Review

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man,…


Y: The Last Man

By Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra (illustrator), Jose Marzan Jr. (illustrator)

Book cover of Y: The Last Man

Why this book?

Y takes place on 20th-century Earth, but with a twist: all men have been exterminated by a mysterious virus except one. You’d think setting the story on Earth in the current time period would be easy, but I think that kind of setting is even harder because we know what that world should feel like and if things deviate, we’ll be quick to notice. And yet, although the premise of Y has not happened on Earth, the worldbuilding makes it plausible that it could. Y dives into the past and jumps into the future, it travels from one end of the U.S. to the other, it tangles international conspiracies with a lovelorn hero and a monkey that won’t stop flinging its poop—and you accept it because the foundation—the worldbuilding—is secure.

Y: The Last Man

By Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra (illustrator), Jose Marzan Jr. (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Y as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by Brian K. Vaughan Art by Pia Guerra & Jose Marzan, Jr. Cover by Massimo Carnevale The first ten issues of the award-winning series written by Brian K. Vaughan (EX MACHINA, Lost) are collected in an oversized hardcover with a new cover! Don't miss the amazing SF epic that Stephen King called "The best graphic novel I've ever read." Advance-solicited; on sale October 15 * 256 pg, FC, $29.99 US 7.0625" x 10.875" * MATURE READERS


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in worldbuilding, romantic love, and London?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about worldbuilding, romantic love, and London.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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