One of the things I always do when travelling is to read a book about the place I'm about to visit. Ten years ago, before moving to London, I had read hundreds of books about the city and here are my favourites.
1 London: A Travel Guide Through Time
I like to get the grips of history about any place I visit. But London has such a wide and rich story that it will take years before knowing enough. This is why this guide through time is the perfect way o get to know the city area by area.
2 The Waste Land
The most fascinating part of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land is that it could have been written today. Rivers of London commuters filling the streets of the city, the superficiality of our current way of living. Not an easy read, but you'll love it.
3 Oliver Twist
Dickens wrote several books about London, so simply pick one! Oliver Twist is set around Clerkenwell and mentions 93 places in London which you can actually check yourself while exploring the city.
4 Brick Lane
From Clerkenwell to East London to follow Monica Ali’s carachters. The novel is the story of an immigrant girl living an arranged marriage and tries to adapt to London.
5 The Girl On the Train
Even if the main character is so very annoying, it's a real page-turner. Apparently, I am not alone, as this psychological thriller sold over 15 million copies (by 2016). The movie, on the other hand, didn't met the expectations. Especially because it was set in NY, without considering that much of the book was that readers felt like riding a London commuter train with Rachel day after day.
6 The Lady in the Van
Another book turned movie, but where Dame Maggie Smith, who also interpreted the same role on the play which premiered in 1999, is just amazing. She truly was able to be The Lady in the Van. Based on the true story of the homeless Miss Shepherd who moved her broken down van into** Alan Bennett**'s driveway. At first, it wasn't easy, but she ended up living there for fifteen years.
I loved Craig Taylor's series of interviews and stories of Londoners. There are 80 memories, dreams, funny, sad portraits of people who “love it, hate it, live it, left it, and long for it”. It's a great book to get under the skin of Londoners, who are not only the Brits, there is a whole world in London.
8 The Sherlock Holmes series
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
If you watched the series on Netflix, you know what I'm talking about, right? This is not only a classic, but the stories about the super-smart detective are also a great way to explore London. Today, a lot of Sherlock Holmes-themed sites are open to visitors and Sherlock Holmes tours take visitors to some of the important spots featured in the books.
9 Absolute Beginners
West London, 1958. A young photographer wants to live a life of "sex, drugs and rock’n’roll." MacInnes writes about the life of Caribbean immigrants in the area, poor English people, homosexuals and drug addictswhile also talking about jazz, racial tensions and the mod subculture.
10 London: The Biography
A biography of a London. How cool is that? Are you someone who wants to know everything and more about London? Then Peter Ackroyd's work is for you. His book is, in fact, a biography which includes not only history but also fashion, food and lifestyle.
if you, like me, are totally addicted to books and can't stop yourself buying more, make sure to tag your instashots with #tsundokutogether
Tsundoku (Japanese): the art of acquiring books with the awareness it will be impossible to read them all in a lifetime. >
Read more about London and getting to know the city here: