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A Guide to Literary London


Oh, London. We’re more than a little bit heart eyes over you, our own concrete jungle and beloved capital city. Needless to say, there’s nothing that gets us more excited than when we’re reading a book that is set in the heart of it and we can just smugly nod our heads along because yes, we’ve been there and yes, it is pretty brilliant, isn’t it? Duh.

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What books are set in London?

A better question is what books aren’t set in London. As England’s capital city, it’s not exactly surprising that London captures the hearts of many authors and inspires them to write some pretty amazing works.

books set in London

‘The Infernal Devices’ trilogy by Cassandra Clare

The prequel to Cassandra Clare’s ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series, these three enchanting books take place in Victorian London where Tessa learns her life and the world she lives in is not all as it seems. This one gets bonus points, because there’s an angsty love triangle involved!

‘Dream a Little Dream’ by Giovanna Fletcher

Creeping somewhat out of the YA genre, this is Giovanna’s third novel to be published, all about that annoyingly vast separation between our dreams and reality. The main character, Sarah, is hilarious and we reckon we’ll probably be a little like her in a few years time.

‘Numbers’ by Rachel Ward

Can you get any more London based than the London Eye itself? Doubtful. Main character, Jem, can see the date that someone is going to die just by looking at them. Naturally, she avoids having relationships because of the technicality. However, when she meets Spider, she sort of can’t resist. They go out together and take a trip on the London Eye and it soon dawns on Jem that everyone in the queue has the same number. Gasp!

books set in London

‘London Belongs to Us’ by Sarra Manning

Want to fall in love with a book and London at the same time? Depicting a twelve-hour dash from Crystal Palace to Alexandra Palace, stopping through Shoreditch, Camden, Notting Hill and everywhere else in between, Sunny’s story is just for you.

‘The Name of the Star’ by Maureen Johnson

This is the first in the ‘Shades of London’ series, in which copy-cat Jack the Ripper murders begin to happen. Perfect timing considering Rory just moved from Louisiana to London to start at a boarding school. And the bad luck keeps on coming, because it turns out Rory is the only one that saw the prime suspect — can see him, period, actually.

‘1984’ by George Orwell

Bow down to the king of all dystopian novels! Everyone has been infatuated with ‘The Hunger Games’ or the ‘Divergent’ series at some point, right? Well, ‘1984’ was the one to start it all off and we consider this on the ‘Must Read Books Before You Die’ list. It’s basically an obligation of any self-confessed bookworm.

Authors that live in London

authors in london

As well as George Orwell and Giovanna Fletcher, who we’ve already mentioned, Virginia Woolf is another author that once lived in London. With famous works such as ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and ‘A Room of One’s Own’, Woolf was a leader in feminist writing with one of her most famous quotes being: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Yaaas!

Bookshops in London4

Bookshops, bookshops and… more bookshops!

Daunt Books

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There’s heaven and then there’s Daunt Books, basically. That’s all we can really say on the matter.

Find at: 83-84 Marylebone High Street

Persephone Books

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Persephone Books only sells books by overlooked female authors, and we’re honestly tearing up just thinking about how utterly amazing that is. Each one is re-printed with timeless grey covers and period endpapers.

Find at: 59 Lamb’s Conduit Street

Southbank Book Market

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Who doesn’t love to rifle through secondhand books with a terrific view? The Southbank Book Market runs daily!

Find at: Queen’s Walk underneath Waterloo Bridge

Waterstones Piccadilly 

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The mothership of all Waterstones, Waterstones Piccailly is not only eight floors of absolute book glory, it’s also home to frequent bookish events. Can we just live here, or…?

Find at: 203 – 206 Piccadilly

The best places to read in London

There are a lot of prime reading spots all over London, so it would be pretty impossible to list them all. The tube is are absolute favourite — so much reading can get done on a long London commute. We also have a soft spot for locations where you can read with a pretty impressive view like Parliament or Primrose Hill

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Here we were reading ‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven.

London also has so many beautiful and tranquil parks amongst all the chaos and concrete. We particularly love Horniman Museum and Gardens. Its museum is full of natural history and the gardens are stunning. To top it off, you wouldn’t believe how quiet it is.

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When we went, we were reading ‘Blue Lily Lily Blue’, the third in Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘The Raven Cycle’ series.

As well as beautiful gardens, there’s also an abundance of parks. Hyde Park is the huge and fairly obvious choice.

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We took a breather from the Boris Bikes and read the sequel to Jenny Han’s ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ last summer. A seriously perfect afternoon, right?

Are you well acquainted with our wonderful capital city? Got some recommendations for us? Then tweet us @maximumpopbooks.

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