It’s book time! I recently wrote about my top picks for books to read while traveling. I got great feedback from you, so today I want to share my list of the best London books. I hope you enjoy them.
Best London Books
The following is a thematic list of some of my favorite London books. Whether they’re set here, reveal secrets of the city’s past or present, or just relate to London in some way, they’ve contributed to my love of this inspiring metropolis. I hope they do the same for you.
1. Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall is not only my top pick for London novels, but also one of my favorite books of all time. Set during the reign of Henry VIII, it covers a fascinating period of British history. On top of that, Hilary Mantel’s signature style provides a refreshing break from the usual novel narrative. You can get it here.
2. Mrs Dalloway
Mrs Dalloway is another classic London novel. Virginia Woolf’s story of a day in the London life of Clarissa Dalloway dips and dives through many a London neighborhood, making it as fun to follow in the footsteps as it is to share in the story. You can get a copy here.
3. Sherlock Holmes
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the publication of the first Sherlock Holmes short story. As such, it’s fitting to have Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s collection on my list of the best London books. Earlier this year I read through all 1,000+ pages of Sherlock Holmes: Vol 1: The Complete Novels and Stories and loved every bit. From Holmes’ wit to Watson’s devotion, it was impossible not to get attached. You can get it here.
4. A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is set between London and Paris around the time of the French Revolution. Short but powerful, it tells a story of love and redemption that captivated my emotions even a century and a half after its publication. You can get it here.
5. Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s dystopian classic, is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Big Brother’s London is a frightening place, and the novel is a powerful reminder of the danger of totalitarianism. You can get a copy here.
6. Her Fearful Symmetry
Another of my picks for the best London books is Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry. Taking place in Highgate, it tells the story of American twins who inherit a flat in London from an aunt they never knew they had. When they arrive, they start to unravel a mystery that takes them into the iconic Highgate Cemetery and other beloved locations across the city. You can get it here.
7. Lonely Planet London
My list of London books wouldn’t be complete without some travel guidebooks. When I first moved to the city I relied on Lonely Planet London to get me around, show me the ropes, and teach me about everything from London’s big attractions to its history and culture. You can get it here.
8. London’s Hidden Walks
On a more local level, London’s Hidden Walks is a set of three books that’s great for discovering the city on foot. Given my love of walking and under-the-radar London neighborhoods, this series is right up my alley. You can get the set here.
9. London: A Social History
Whenever I need recommendations for books on London’s past, I turn to a friend who has a PhD in medieval London history from Oxford. He recommends London: A Social History, a book about the city’s past, its rise and fall, and above all, its people. You can get a copy here.
10. A Bear Called Paddington
I’m a sucker for children’s books, and if there’s one I’ve loved since childhood it’s A Bear Called Paddington. The original in what’s now a global franchise, it tells the story of a Peruvian bear who travels to London and meets the Brown family by chance in Paddington Station. And so the adventures begin. You can get it here.
11. Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London
The last book on my list is one that’s personally special. It was written by my boyfriend’s Australian cousin, Kate Knapp, who’s an amazing artist and children’s book author. The third in a series about Ruby Red Shoes, an adorable aware hare, I love Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London for its setting, its beautiful illustrations of London, and the fact that my boyfriend makes an appearance as Ruby’s cousin (in hare form, of course). It’s currently only available in Australia, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to travel Down Under, this is it.
What do you think are the best London books?
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