London is a famously literary city. Not only has it been the home of many famous historical authors like Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens and modern-day icons like Zadie Smith, but it also acts as the backdrop for many classic and contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction. There are lots of books to read before visiting London, but here are our picks of the very best London-centric books that will get you excited for your next trip to the capital.
Books to Read before Visiting London
London Stories by Jerry White (Editor)
This collection of fictional short stories compiled by historian Jerry White is one the best books to read before visiting London because of its comprehensiveness. The stories in London Stories span four centuries and include everyone from Sherlock-creator Sir Arthur Conon Doyle to the contemporary filmmaker Hanif Kureishi (Le Week-End).
prettycitylondon: Discovering London’s Beautiful Places by Siobhan Ferguson
Curated by Siobhan Ferguson, one of our favorite London-based Instagrammers, prettycitylondon is a darling photo book showing off London’s best side. This hardcover coffee table book makes a great gift for Anglophiles and also includes tips and tricks on how to best photograph this iconic city. Also, lots of the images in this book are taken in West London (in the lovely neighborhoods of Chelsea, Kensington and Notting Hill), which are where many of London Perfect’s luxury apartments are based.
London: A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr Matthew Green
History buffs will devour London: A Travel Guide Through Time. Starting in medieval London, this book guides you through London’s most important historical periods like the Victorian era. Don’t be put off the by historical context. The captivating prose flows like fiction in this highly readable book.
This is London by Miroslav Sasek
London is a family-friendly destination, so get the kids excited with a copy of This Is London. This delightfully illustrated children’s book was first published in 1959, but the charm is eternal. Images of Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus and the Tube will leave children of all ages feeling eager for a jaunt across the pond. This book is part of a larger series featuring cities all around the world. It just may be the very first thing that sparks wanderlust into the hearts of your little ones.
The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants, Cafes, and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City by Aleksandra Crapanzano
Foodies will love perusing through The London Cookbook, a collection of stories and recipes from eateries all around London. Capturing the gastronomic spirit of this diverse culinary capital, this book contains recipes for some classic eats as well as avant-garde treats. Try making the chocolaty Double Decker Tart or the seasonal Cinnamon Bellinis. You can even bring this book with you on your next trip and try out some of these recipes in your own luxury kitchen in one of our London Perfect apartment rentals.
Lost in London: Color Your Way Around the City by Sylvia Moritz and Rowan Ottesen
For a fun activity book, check out the all-age coloring book Lost In London. Featuring pretty architecture, famous landmarks and everyday scenes, this coloring book will leave you feeling both relaxed and roused for a trip to London. This is also a good one to bring on the plane to keep the kids occupied on those long transatlantic flights.
The Harry Potter Books by J. K. Rowling
One of Great Britain’s most famous exports, the Harry Potter series is a must for magically-minded muggles—and one of our favorite books to read before visiting London. In fact, these books need little introduction. Once you’ve read (or re-read) these modern-day classics, why not take a Harry Potter Tour? Or take yourself on a self-guided tour and check out all the magical locations used as filming locations in the Harry Potter movie franchise.
London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait? by Jacquelyn Middleton
For a light-hearted read based in London, check out Jacquelyn Middleton’s modern coming-of-age story, London Belongs To Me. Follow along as main character Alex Sinclair trades in Florida for London—and everything that comes along with it, including a life-changing romance. If you fall in the love with the first book (which you surely will), check out the follow-up novel, London, Can You Wait?
After reading all about London, you’re going to want to see it for yourself. When you’re ready to start writing your own London story, get in touch. We can help you find the ideal home-away-from-home in London for any adventure you can imagine.