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Books about London: What’s your favourite?

The last time I was in London I was 20. It’s been about eight years between jaunts, but I will be returning to London very soon. For many Australians, London represents the pinnacle of the ‘lost homeland’, but for many people with Scottish heritage, I was brought up to treat London and England with caution and discontent. Stories from grandfathers passed through our family like Chinese whispers, and I arrived in London for the first time with apprehensions.

If I am going to be blunt, London is not my cup of tea. The city is big, rainy, dirty, generally overwhelming. I never grew up in a city the size of London, so it is definitely a shock to the system. This is the England I prefer…


That does not actually mean, I really prefer ruins, rather, that I prefer the peace and space of the countryside. This is a picture from Edale, which is an hour or so outside of Sheffield.

The strange thing about London, is that I end up reading a lot of books set in London. London has beguiled authors for centuries (for reasons sometimes unknown to me??). The city of London has become like a literary character for me, and maybe that’s why I was so disappointed with the fantastical character when I saw it up-close and personal?

To get in the mood for my London return, I though I would share some of my favourite books set in London, about London, and Londoners.


Capital by John Lanchester


The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope


The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon


Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (Although almost any Dickens will satisfy your London needs).


The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi


North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell


Brick Lane by Monica Ali


Wise Children by Angela Carter


The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad


White Teeth by Zadie Smith


life After Life by Kate Atkinson

This is by no means a final list of all the books about London, but it is a list of books that I have read about London over the past few years. Many of these books are featured in my List of Book Reviews, so if you want to see what I thought, click on the link to find out more.

What are your favourite book/s about London? And do you ever pick a book based on its location? Remember to share the reading love.



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