My next manuscript will be set in the Scottish Highlands in 1806. I recently stumbled across Dorothy Wordsworth's Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland A.D. 1803 while looking for free Kindle downloads, so it was a natural research choice for me.
It was slow going, especially when I was reading on a plane (as was often the case over the past two weeks) and couldn't look up the places the Wordsworths were visiting to help me visualize what was going on. However, it did give me a useful picture of what the Highlands were like 200 years ago--half empty, and half wild--and how an English observer might view them. Wordsworth seemed almost offended by the half-tamed landscapes--she kept wanting more trees and hedgerows--and she was obviously much struck by the friendliness of the people and their relatively dirty and unpolished living conditions.
To start 2010, I read Soulless (2009), Gail Carriger's well reviewed and highly recommended debut. I didn't love it as much as all those reviewers and recommenders, but the world-building and characters carried me past occasional awkwardness in the writing itself.