As most people already know, I’m pretty much obsessed with London. I love exploring the city, I love writing about it and I love showing my friends and family around when they visit. I also love reading about London – ever since I started visiting London frequently and especially after I moved here, I’ve acquired quite the collection of London books, ranging from guidebooks to fiction.
As I love going through all of my London based literature from time to time, I thought I should share a few of my favourites with you as well. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do – here’s to getting inspired to explore this lovely city and its surroundings!
I found London by Tube by Christopher Winn from the bookshop of the National Portrait Gallery last summer and I just couldn’t resist buying it. I’m a sucker for any book about London, but even more so for the ones that are filled with little trivia and interesting walks you might have not been familiar with, even after living in the city for a long time. Even if you’re a local Londoner I think this book could help you find some of your new favourite places if you just let it!
It doesn’t cover all the tube stops (that would be one big book if it did!), but it does cover few of the main stations of each line, such as Walthamstow Central on the Victoria Line, Hampstead on the Northern Line and Ealing Broadway on the Central Line. My favourite thing about the book, aside from the great walks, are the little pieces of trivia you get to learn of each station/area. For example, did you know that Britain’s first ever department store was in Brixton in the Bon Marche building, now used for offices? If you remember to look up when you pass it, you can still see the old sign up on the roof!
Aside from the Bridget Jones books and the Shopaholic series, I haven’t actually read that many fiction books where London played a big part as the backdrop of the story, so I was very excited to read Zadie Smith’s NW as soon as I received it. The title of the book stands for the North West postcodes of London, and, aside from a few scenes playing out in central London, the book mostly concentrates on this one small part of the city.
The plot mostly follows the lives of two childhood friends, Leah and Natalie, who grew up on the same estate in NW London. The book tries to explore how two people with quite similar backgrounds can turn to lead very different lives and still stay friends, and what kind of bumps there can be along the road. Smith tries out a few different writing styles, and the book can be difficult to get into at the beginning, but believe me, if you persevere, it’s going to be very much worth it! The book portrays a very different picture of London that tourists, or even me, hardly ever see, and even though it’s not always exactly light reading, it makes you think, and sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.
Now, I know this one’s a bit of a cheat as it’s not specifically about London, as much as it is about escaping it, but I thought I would include it anyway. I think anyone who lives in London will agree that no matter how much you love the city, sometimes it’s lovely to get away for a day or two to recharge a bit. Plus, the book does mention Hampton Court Palace as one of the trips, and that’s technically in Greater London, so…
Escape London is divided into five different categories such as Family Friendly and Culture & Heritage and I basically want to visit every single little town and attraction that’s mentioned. The book is so beautifully illustrated too, which just adds to the desire to go to tick off ALL of the places – I especially want to go to Rye, Lavenham and Whitstable. Where do you want to go next?