I love London. It’s my favourite place to go for a long weekend or a day trip. There’s always something to do and yes, no one talks to you, but is there anything really so wrong with that? We’re book-lovers, so we’re mostly introverts.
Sure, lots of books are set in London, but this is a list of books where London has such presence that it’s almost another character.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
The view of London is very recognisable in this book – the instagrammable, look-how-sociable-I-am side of it. The part where Katie talks about how she goes to cafes and snaps pictures of other people’s food and drink made me laugh so much. I also love the balance between how fantastic London is and how awful it can be at the same time, such as the hilarious moment at the beginning where Katie falls face first into another commuter’s panini.
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
When I think of this book I immediately think of that tube ride
where Sofia gets called a terrorist. This novels acts as both a celebration of how wonderfully diverse London is, and a condemnation of how diversity is viewed by certain members of the population.
The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes
Victorian London lends itself well to literature. This Jack-the-Ripper-esque story brings to mind that grimy, smoky London of the Industrial Revolution. You can just picture what the film would look like. (Just googled it and turns out it’s a Hitchcock film – so it probably looks EXACTLY how I pictured it!)
Of course, for this style of book, you may have expected me to go for something by Charles Dickens, but I’m sorry – I just can’t get on with him!
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
I have forgotten a lot about this book (a re-read is well overdue) but it immediately jumped to mind when I started thinking about this list. It’s probably the most accurate view of London on this list (albeit a London before the Instagram age, as it’s set at the turn of the millennium). This is another novel that shows the city’s diversity, though in a less fluffy way than Malik’s love story: full of angry teenagers and tired war heroes, it slams the way immigrants are viewed by many of London’s inhabitants.
Now for some bonus content – here’s a list of my top 5 things to do on a day trip to London. (I’m not a Londoner so I’m sure the people that live there have much better suggestions, but these are my personal favourites!)
5. Sip an expensive cocktail at Radio Rooftop Bar – For a fabulous view of London, book a table at this glamorous Covent Garden bar. I wouldn’t recommend turning up on the day – you’ll end up sitting downstairs. (Which is also very fancy, but that’s not why you go there.) (Even the toilets are pretty too.)
4. See Harrods – This is just as much a tourist attraction as it is a shop. Selfridges and Harvey Nichols are amazing, but Harrods is its own institution. You can walk around the designer shoes without feeling like you’re being looked down on, and going into its Christmas department is like walking through the tree-shaped door in A Nightmare Before Christmas. The surrounding Knightsbridge area has plenty of other designer shops too.
3. Eat lobster at Big Easy, Covent Garden – You’re better off booking a table but they will fit you in if they can. Go for ‘the pounder’ – a whole lobster, fries, salad and a drink for only £20. Amazing, considering anywhere else in the country it’s around £30 just for the lobster.
1. See a West End show (join WhatsOnStage Theatre Club for £3.99 a month for massive discounts if you’re a regular booker, or check out lastminute.com or just turn up on the day for cheap tickets) – If you never do anything else in London, you must go see a show. I highly recommend Bat Out of Hell when it returns in April this year!