Discussion: Envisioning location as I read

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I was listening to We Are the Ants yesterday while driving home from work, and I had a realization. The character in the book said something about the living room couch looking so lonely without his grandmother sitting on it, and I realized that the living room I was seeing in my mind was the living room of my childhood best friend. I thought back to an earlier part of the book and recalled envisioning the brother’s bedroom as the bedroom of my best friend’s older sister in that same house.

Thinking back on other audiobooks I listened to recently, I discovered that Hermione’s bedroom from Exit, Pursued by a Bear matched my memory of that same best friend’s bedroom. And I know some other adult book I read or listened to had me thinking about that friend’s parents’ bedroom. Kind of creepy, huh?

I think what is happening is that when an author hasn’t given me enough description, my mind is filling in the blanks with a location that is familiar to me, but not too familiar. I don’t envision characters in my own home or my own childhood homes. Although I am using one of my parents’ houses that I never really lived in for more than a summer as the setting for one of my own characters when I think about the YA book I’d like to write.

Do you envision location when reading or listening to books? Is it a location that you’ve really been in? If so, where?

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  1. I totally picture locations in my head when I’m reading! No matter the description, I tend to picture one of my parents’ homes or my sister’s house when the setting is a house.

    I was reading a book recently that partly took place on a farm, and the descriptions made it seem like such a lovely place, and I kept picturing lots of sunlight and trees and fields. Not a place I particularly knew, but just the feeling.
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  2. This is so interesting. I definitely do the same thing! I used to always have dreams involving my aunt and uncle’s house (and it was my grandma’s before, my dad’s childhood home) as a random location because it was familiar to me. I tend to picture books in the same way! Next time I’m reading I’ll have to pay attention to whose house I’m picturing.
    Lauren @ Bookmark Lit recently posted…Review: Cruel BeautyMy Profile

    1. Cool! It wasn’t anything I thought about until Wednesday. So interesting. Definitely let me know “where” you are when you’re reading. 🙂

  3. I recently finished Red Rising, which takes place mostly on Mars, and often underground. I never did visualize familiar locations, but then again, I’ve never worked in a mine.

  4. I always envision locations while reading, but the only time I ever seem to envision anywhere from real life is sometimes when characters live in dorms or in apartments with roommates. In those cases I sometimes end up envisioning my apartment dorm from college. Maybe because my mind unfamiliar with that kind of place? Whereas I guess my mind is comfortable enough with houses and one-person apartments that it can just make up its own layout and whatnot.
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    1. So interesting. I need to pay more attention to other types of locations when I’m reading. Another house in We Are the Ants is vaguely described, and I see it as a ranch house in my mind. No where I’ve actually been.

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