Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Best Houses in Books

This week, The Broke and the Bookish have chosen to let us pick out our own themes. And I wished very much that they hadn't (albeit quite innocently) chosen to do that during my chaos of half-packed boxes and appallingly long lists of things to clean. Until the idea of new house—which I have to remind myself of every hour to bear the moving stress—gave me an idea.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...

We've done favorite settings, but for that list, slots get too easily taken up by Hogwarts and Narnia and the like. I am thinking about mansions, apartments, shacks—anything that could be described as a house. There will, of course, be some overlap.

Here are the top ten off the top of my head:

1. Pemberley. With exquisite natural beauty "so little counteracted by an awkward taste," a park ten miles round, pianofortes and great halls galore, it's hard to blame Elizabeth Bennet for thinking that "to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!" Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

2. Moonacre Manor. Little round tower rooms, a tunnel entrance, a friendly lion, a splendid resident cook, magic and unicorns—what's not to love? The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge

3. Green Gables. Doesn't every girl dream of living at Green Gables, sleeping in Anne's attic room with the window open to let the cherry blossom fragrance blow over her face at night? With a lake nearby, and lanes to ramble in? Also, honorable mentions to Patty's Place, Windy Poplars, the House of Dreams and Ingleside. The author made characters of houses like few others. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery.

4. The Alm-hut. Who wouldn't want to sleep in a hayloft and wake to the fir-trees' roar, make goats'-milk cheeses (I've actually done that) and walk up to the wildflower meadows on the side of the Alp? It might be a bit cold in winter, but what a peaceful life. Heidi, Johanna Spyri

5. The Burrow. Admittedly, everything's a bit broken-down under the influence of poverty and seven active children, but the place is full of love and fun. Also, there's a clock that tells where every member of the family is, including whether or not they're in mortal peril. That's helpful. I could do without the ghoul, though. The Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling

6. Misselthwaite Manor. The primary interest of the house proper is in its 'corridors'—a word that filled me with the thrill of adventure when I read the novel as a child. But what I like best about the place is its Secret Garden, surrounded by ivy-covered walls, with robins and a world of roses therein. The Secret Garden, Francis Hodgson Burnett

7. Bag End. Unfortunately I'm too tall to live comfortably in a hobbit-hole, but it sounds like fun: food (with mushrooms, of course), books, ale, and peace and quiet. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

8. Rivendell. I am not too tall for Rivendell, and it sounds beautiful. Feasting, singing, Elves, and a lovely wooded setting. Honorable mention to the tree-houses of Lorien, too. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

9. Moor House. After wandering on the moors for days, exhausted and destitute, Jane Eyre finds a quiet country home filled with soft light, intelligent conversation, and the warmth of affection. Little is said about the place itself, but it feels homey. And it's not dark and haunted like Thornfield. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

10. Cair Paravel. Lewis doesn't describe it in great detail, but I thought I ought to get a castle on here somewhere. No doubt it's exceptionally beautiful. The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

Now I feel all dreamy. There's something magical about the idea of house and home, be it humble or be it proud. Hopefully that magic can stick with me while I pack boxes and take soap and garden hose to dusty apartment window blinds.

What are your favorite houses in stories?


  1. This is a really creative list! I love it! Especially Cair Paravel and Rivendell.

  2. Well, I'll have to think some on it, but you've already hit quite a few of the ones I would've chosen, namely, Bag End, The Burrow, & Rivendell (aka the Last Homely House west of the mountains). Each of the four main characters homes in The Wind in the Willows also have a certain kind of comfortableness about them.

  3. This list makes me realize that all of my favorite, treasured stories contain houses that are characters unto themselves. Basically almost every story that means something to me is on your list: Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, LOTR, Narnia, Jane Eyre, and The Secret Garden.

    And I'm gonna let the cat peep out of the bag here in your comments and say, in addition to a common list of favorite houses from stories, we share something else: we're both closing on a house soon. :) For me it's next Tuesday, so my apartment is in disarray as well!! God willing I'll get to tell the story of how I'm soon to be a home owner soon over at my little blog sometime soon, since it's a story definitely worth telling :) I'm just too in-the-midst of it now.

    Anyway, you have my prayers as you pack and move and close and celebrate! :)

  4. Thanks, Hannah!

    George, I thought about the Wind in the Willows, but it's just been so long since I've read it that I couldn't remember! We just bought a copy so I can fix that, though.

    Donna, I had the same thought about character houses. :) And congratulations on buying your own!! There seem to be a few of us in this boat. Prayers for you, too!

  5. Mm, Rivendell...I'd love to go there.

    As a kid, I always wanted to live in Miss Minchin's school in A Little Princess. I wanted the cool attic. Maybe that's just because I never had an attic, because really, the attic in that house was pretty dreadful. :)

  6. Hmm.

    --St. Anne's from That Hideous Strength, the house with the mice for clean-up crew and Mr. Bultitude the bear and Dr. Ransom/Mr. Fisher-King/The Pendragon in charge of it all. And men and women taking turns doing the washing-up.

    --12 Grimmauld Place, from The Order of the Phoenix. Sure it's a dirty disgusting townhouse full of dark wizard stuff, but it's the Order's headquarters, and it was the first place where I finally felt like the good guys were actually DOING something. Plus, clean-up projects can be a lot of fun, when you have friends to help you.

    --The watchtower, from The Last Battle. I'm not sure why I took to this place: it's a rough little outpost with bunks and hardtack and weapon cabinets. I guess I have a weakness for any place that serves as Good Guys HQ (see above). Honorable mention to the magician Coriakin's manor from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

    --Beorn's house, from The Hobbit. Dogs and sheep as servants, great beehives providing honey, a great big hall for parties, and all the vegetarian tasties you could wish. Also: the first place I felt really safe since Rivendell. Honorable mention to Tom Bombadill's House.

    --House Beautiful from Pilgrim's Progress. Presided over by the four daughters Discretion, Piety, Prudence, and Charity, the House serves as a metaphor for the ekklesia, the community of the church. Christian is fed, instructed, and armed--and leaves the House with the armor and sword he will need later.

    --The Little Houses both In The Big Woods and On The Prairie. The house in the big woods needs its shutters closed so it cannot watch the pioneer family leave; the house on the prairie slowly grows as Pa builds it, but in the end it too must be left behind--the symbol of a year's work, a year's life. Special shout-out to the house On The Banks of Plum Creek, too--I was so enamored of the idea of living with grass for a roof, semi-underground.

    --A three way tie for the houses in Lilith: the owner's house with its mysterious library and hidden portal; the sexton's house with its phantom moon and the rows of the dead sleeping in the endless room; and Mara's house, where the woman who keeps her face hidden comes to the narrator's aid.

    --The House on Ash Tree Lane, from the House of Leaves. At first seeming a source of endless malice and danger, the maze within the house ultimately is the maze within ourselves, or the maze we make OF ourselves. Ever memorable, though I certainly would not like to live in it.

    --Esperanza's dream house from The House on Mango Street. It represents all that she wants out of life, all her dreams of escaping poverty, all her dreams of becoming a writer. A "house on a hill like the ones with the gardens where Papa works," but with bums living in the attic, so "I won't forget who I am or where I came from." "Only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before a poem."

    --The Old Manse in the introduction to Nathaniel Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old Manse. This is cheating, as it isn't fictional. The house belonged to Emerson's grandparents, and when his step-grandfather died, they rented it out to the Hawthornes. It sat right on the Concorde River, a short walk from where some of the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired. It had a large garden, an apple orchard, a boathouse, and a writing room that caught the sunlight and turned the walls all to golden hues. Hawthorne's life in this house inspired him to write on Edenic themes, because he felt like he was living in Eden, in harmony with Nature. I've visted it, and it is one of my favorite houses in story or life.

  7. What a wonderful list, almost every house that I would want on my list you already had. The only houses I would add would be the Little House on the Prairie house and the House on Plum Creek (which Chris mentioned) and then Jo's house from Jo's Boys ( the book after Little Women). When I read that book I was convinced that I wanted to adopt a house full of boys when I grew up the house was so full of live and love.
    Best of luck on your move, let me know if you need help at all and I hope to see you tonight!

  8. Definitely the Anne houses--she filled each with homeyness and personality.
    Valancy's and Barney's cozy shack on Lake Mistawis (The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery).

    The Beast's castle (Beauty by Robin McKinley).

    Nollop. Without the totalitarianism, of course! I know it's an island, but it all has such a homey feel. (Ella Minnow Pea).

    The parsonage and little yellow house in Mitford (Jan Karin's Mitford series).

    The Cullen house (Twilight).

    The Limberlost. Again not a house, but a beautiful, vibrant home and refuge to Freckles and Elnora.


  9. Ooh, a bunch of good additions! Shallee, LOL--the sparrows I would have liked, but the rats might have been a problem. :)

    Chris, St. Anne's came to mind but I couldn't remember offhand what it was called! It totally deserves a place on the list. And I'd forgotten about Beorn's and Tom Bombadil's. Now I want to visit Nathaniel Hawthorne's, too.

    Sarah, I plan on being there! :) And the Little House houses (also noted by Chris) are totally worthy of mention. Likewise, Plumfield School for Boys.

    Arabella, I totally forgot about the Beast's castle (loved it!) and the Mitford homes. I did think about the Limberlost but couldn't come up with a house. Now I want to go read of Freckles and the Angel--I loved Elnora's tale, but have never read Freckles'.

  10. I shouldn't have forgotten Tom Bombadil's house. Excellent place.

    Also from Narnia, Mr. & Mrs. Beaver's house, Polly's house or flats in The Magician's Nephew where you can climb around through the ceiling to other houses. Also, I always preferred King Lune's castle of Anvard to Cair Paravel.

  11. I think you're going to love the heart of Freckles, one of my favorite literary characters. And I think you'll see why I consider the Limberlost a sort-of house, with Freckles' room.


  12. My wife wanted me to mention a few others:

    --Polly's house with the attic passageway, as George described above
    --The House At Pooh Corner, which Pooh built for Eeyore
    --The treehouse in Swiss Family Robinson
    --The "house with a hundred rooms" from The Secret Garden. Colin's bedroom hidden behind a tapestry, all the really quiet parlors where no-one has gone in years, etc.

  13. Which, total senior moment here, that last one was one of your original ten. I just never remember its real name: for me it will always be the House With A Hundred Rooms.

  14. I wouldn't want to live there, but I loved Ray Bradbury's 'house of Usher' in Usher II, of the Martian Chronicles..I'm sure there are other houses to like, but right now I've been absorbed in books without houses and am having trouble remembering my favorites. :)

  15. Chris, I forgot it was called the House With a Hundred Rooms! I need to read that book again.

    George, I like Anvard too. :D And The Horse and His Boy is probably still my favorite of the books.

    Masha, I've had people suggest I read Ray Bradbury, but have never gotten around to it. Maybe someday. :D

  16. I honestly don't really read him either. My husband reads his short stories aloud while I'm doing other things. :) He's an amazing writer, I've never been disappointed.


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