100 Best London Books of All Time

We've researched and ranked the best london books in the world, based on recommendations from world experts, sales data, and millions of reader ratings. Learn more

Featuring recommendations from Richard Branson, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, and 117 other experts.
1
Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.
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2

Rivers of London (Peter Grant, #1)

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of... more

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3

1984

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

With extraordinary relevance and renewed popularity, George Orwell’s 1984 takes on new life in this hardcover edition.

“Orwell saw, to his credit, that the act of falsifying reality is only secondarily a way of changing perceptions. It is, above all, a way of asserting power.”—The New Yorker
 
In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave...
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Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Steve Jobscalled this book "one of his favorite" and recommended it to the hires. The book also inspired one the greatest TV ad (made by Jobs) (Source)

D J TaylorIn terms of how technology is working in our modern surveillance powers, it’s a terrifyingly prophetic book in some of its implications for 21st-century human life. Orwell would deny that it was prophecy; he said it was a warning. But in fact, distinguished Orwell scholar Professor Peter Davis once made a list of all the things that Orwell got right, and it was a couple of fairly long paragraphs,... (Source)

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4
In Tufnell Park, North London, a pair of railway tracks diver under a school, taking train to and from Kings Cross. Wet, filthy, dangerous. Lovely place. And one Sunday before Christmas a sweet (sort of) kid called Abigail took me and my long suffering colleague Lesley May down there to look for a ghost.

We found one.

And that was that, I thought, because come Monday I get to do some proper policing. Person Unknown has been stabbed to death on the tracks at Baker Street tube. Magic may have been involved. And sure enough, in the blood; vestigia, the tell-tale trail magic...
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5

Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant, #2)

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul. They’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective...
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6
A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled...
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7

London

Here is Edward Rutherfurd's classic novel of London, a glorious pageant spanning 2,000 years. He brings this vibrant city's long and noble history alive through the ever-shifting fortunes, fates, and intrigues of half-a-dozen families, from the age of Julius Caesar to the 20th century. Generation after generation, these families embody the passion, struggle, wealth, and verve of the greatest city in the world. less

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8

Oliver Twist

Oliver is an orphan living on the dangerous London streets with no one but himself to rely on. Fleeing from poverty and hardship, he falls in with a criminal street gang who will not let him go, however hard he tries to escape.

One of the most swiftly moving and unified of Charles Dickens’s great novels, Oliver Twist is also famous for its re-creation–through the splendidly realized figures of Fagin, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and the evil Bill Sikes–of the vast London underworld of pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and abandoned children. Victorian critics took Dickens to...
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Audrey PennI’m going to go with Oliver Twist. I was raised on all of these books, but I loved Oliver Twist. I have always believed that people, no matter how bad they are, when they see a really good kid in trouble, they’re going to help. (Source)

Chigozie ObiomaOne day he had this radical idea that, if you want something, you can actually make a demand on life. (Source)

Ann WiddecombeOliver is a boy who has escaped the workhouse and is adopted by a family of pickpockets. He’s the exception – because he’s being manipulated by the grownups… (Source)

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9
This unusual fictional memoir - in good part autobiographical - narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-outs of two great cities. The Parisian episode is fascinating for its expose of the kitchens of posh French restaurants, where the narrator works at the bottom of the culinary echelon as dishwasher, or plongeur. In London, while waiting for a job, he experiences the world of tramps, street people, and free lodging houses. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and of society. less

David DownieThat is a book I read when I was young – in my teens – and it really marked me. (Source)

Roman KrznaricOrwell is one of my great empathic heroes. He went tramping in east London, trying to empathise with people who lived on the social margins. (Source)

David KramaleyI really enjoyed Down and Out in Paris and London. I think it’s meant to be a semi-autobiographical novel by George Orwell. I liked it because it was one of those books that had a big influence on the way I perceive and think about the world. Highly recommended. (Source)

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10

A Tale of Two Cities

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has...
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Amelia BooneRemains one my favorites to this day. (Source)

Antonio VillaraigosaAs mayor of a large metropolis, the living conditions of our residents are always present in my mind. Every decision I make, I try to evaluate if it will help improve the quality of life of every Angeleno. But Dickens really dissects both the aristocrats and the revolutionaries, to show that change is never easy. As progressives, we value government’s role and power to improve our cities and... (Source)

May WitwitI started a paper about the historical reality in this book. And as I studied it more deeply I got depressed because the things that were happening were similar to Iraq. How the mob could be turned against people by devious minds. They just killed people without even knowing them. The people who were killed were probably very good people, you never know. You just can’t kill haphazardly, heads... (Source)

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11

The Girl on the Train

An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now...
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Recommended by Barack Obama, and 1 others.

Barack ObamaJust like us, the president enjoys a good beach read while relaxing in the sun. In 2016, he released his list of summer vacation books: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan H Is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins Seveneves, Neal Stephenson The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Source)

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12

Broken Homes (Peter Grant, #4)

A mutilated body in Crawley. Another killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil; an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man? Or just a common or garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case-load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there...
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13

Mrs. Dalloway

In this vivid portrait of one day in a woman's life, Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with far-away remembrances. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices she has made, hesitantly looking ahead to growing old. Undeniably triumphant, this is the inspired novelistic outline of human consciousness. less
Recommended by Charles Fernyhough, Maria Sveland, and 2 others.

Charles FernyhoughWoolf is interested in the intersections between minds. She’s trying to show how minds bleed into each other. (Source)

Maria SvelandIt’s one of the saddest books I’ve ever read. I could really identify with Clarissa, this empty, poor person who is going out to find some flowers for a party. At the same moment, we are following her out into the beautiful morning as the story starts. It’s clear very soon that Clarissa is a woman who has lost her soul among all the duties and conventions of a boring marriage. That loss is so... (Source)

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14
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous...
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15

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)

Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript...
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16

A Christmas Carol

'If I had my way, every idiot who goes around with Merry Christmas on his lips, would be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. Merry Christmas? Bah humbug!'

Introduction and Afterword by Joe Wheeler
To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it's too late.

Part of the Focus on the Family Great Stories collection, this edition features an in-depth introduction and discussion...
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17

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)

Cormoran Strike is back, with his assistant Robin Ellacott, in a mystery based around soldiers returning from war.

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure...
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18

The Picture of Dorian Gray

On its first publication The Picture of Dorian Gray was regarded as dangerously modern in its depiction of fin-de-siècle decadence. In this updated version of the Faust story, the tempter is Lord Henry Wotton, who lives selfishly for amoral pleasure; Dorian's good angel is the portrait painter Basil Hallward, whom Dorian murders. The book highlights the tension between the polished surface of high society and the life of secret vice. Although sin is punished in the end the book has a flavour of the elegantly perverse.

With an Afterword by Peter Harness.

Designed...
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Eric BerkowitzThe Picture of Dorian Gray is now a part of the canon that no one would admit to not having read. Most of us have read it and delighted in its witticisms. It’s hard to imagine, but when Dorian Gray was first published, the book was not well received at all. It was totally panned. It was held against him as being an example of an effete character. It was being serialised by Lippincott’s Magazine,... (Source)

Marc MontagneMy favorite fiction book is the The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I'm a huge Oscar Wilde fan, he has one of the brightest minds and the Picture is a masterpiece and his unique novel. I consider that you should only read books that you would consider reading again at some point while still enjoying the same pleasure. The Picture is definitely one of those. (Source)

Andra ZahariaA copy from 1903 of this book is my most prized possession. (Source)

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19

The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant, #6)

The Hanging Tree was the Tyburn gallows which stood where Marble Arch stands today. Oxford Street was the last trip of the condemned. Some things don't change. The place has a bloody and haunted legacy and now blood has returned to the empty Mayfair mansions of the world's super-rich. And blood mixed with magic is a job for Peter Grant.

Peter Grant is back as are Nightingale et al. at the Folly and the various river gods, ghosts and spirits who attach themselves to England's last wizard and the Met's reluctant investigator of all things supernatural.
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20

Brave New World

Now reissued in a gorgeous hardcover edition: "one of the most prophetic dystopian works of the 20th century" (Wall Street Journal) must be read and understood by anyone concerned with preserving the human spirit in the face of our "brave new world." Huxley's masterpiece has become a bestseller once again after the American election.

Aldous Huxley's profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically...
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Yuval Noah HarariThe most prophetic book of the 20th century. Today many people would easily mistake it for a utopia. (Source)

Ellen Wayland-SmithIt is a hilarious, and also very prescient, parody of utopias. Huxley goes back to the idea that coming together and forming a community of common interests is a great idea – it’s the basis of civil society. At the same time, when communities of common interests are taken to utopian degrees the self starts to dissolve into the larger community, you lose privacy and interiority; that becomes... (Source)

John QuigginThe lesson I draw from this is that the purpose of utopia is not so much as an achieved state, as to give people the freedom to pursue their own projects. That freedom requires that people are free of the fear of unemployment, or of financial disaster through poor healthcare. They should be free to have access to the kind of resources they need for their education and we should maintain and... (Source)

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Don't have time to read the top London books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

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  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.
21
From Steven Johnson, the dynamic thinker routinely compared to James Gleick, Dava Sobel, and Malcolm Gladwell, The Ghost Map is a riveting page-turner about a real-life historical hero, Dr. John Snow. It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure—garbage removal, clean water, sewers—necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate... more

Seth MnookinThe Ghost Map is a book that I oftentimes give to people to show them how cool and exciting and accessible and gripping stories about scientific discoveries can be. (Source)

Alison AlvarezI read the Ghost Map, a book about 1854 London Cholera outbreak. The outbreak was stopped because of a map created by Dr. John Snow. You can see hints of this map in some of our customer discovery tools because it was such an effective way of pinpointing a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. (Source)

Stephen EvansJohnson looks at London during a specific moment in time, August 1854, and focuses on a particular incident, an outbreak of cholera in Soho, in Central London. (Source)

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22

Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, #4)

"Rowling's wizardry as a writer is on fulsome display" (USA Today) in this #1 New York Times bestseller from the international bestselling author Robert Galbraith.

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike's office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office...
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23
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley - a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an...
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Recommended by Joe Lycett, and 1 others.

Joe Lycettguys i just read this book called harry potter well worth checking out it’s about a really interesting magic lad (Source)

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24

Bleak House

Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done. Bleak House, in its atmosphere, symbolism and magnificent bleak comedy, is often regarded as the best of Dickens.... more
Recommended by Peter Ackroyd, Trevor Phillips, and 2 others.

Peter AckroydBleak House is the work which most powerfully suggests the darkness of London. It conveys a haunted city, half pantomime-half graveyard. (Source)

Trevor PhillipsBleak House tells us not to rely on the courts for justice. In the end, a just society can’t be delivered by people in a courtroom. (Source)

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25

White Teeth

At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate... more

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26

Great Expectations

“Bütün ingilis dünyası Dikkensi sevir; 19-cu əsrdə dünyanın heç bir yerində yazıçı ilə onun xalqı arasında bu dərəcədə dərin qəlbi bağlılıq olmayıb. Bu məşhurluq bir fişəng kimi qəfil partlamış, ancaq heç vaxt sönməmişdir. Dikkens günəş kimi daim dünyaya öz şəfəqlərini saçacaq”. Ştefan Svayq
Dikkens uşaq yaşlarında səfil həyat tərzi sürüb. Bu iztirablı tale onun bütün yaradıcılığında əks olunub. Onun qəhrəmanlarının əksəriyyəti kasıb, köməksiz, yetim uşaqlardır. Ancaq o bu sadə uşaqların içindəki burjuaziya tərəfindən aşağılanan təmiz hisslərini ədəbiyyata çevirməyi bacararaq üstündəki...
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Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Marvin LiaoMy list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make... (Source)

Robert Douglas-FairhurstWhat the rest of Great Expectations shows is that having Christmas lasting all the way through your life might not be a good thing. Having a Santa Claus figure who keeps throwing gifts and money at you when they’re not necessarily wanted or deserved might be a handicap. (Source)

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27

A Study in Scarlet

"A Study in Scarlet" is the first published story of one of the most famous literary detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes. Here Dr. Watson, who has just returned from a war in Afghanistan, meets Sherlock Holmes for the first time when they become flat-mates at the famous 221 B Baker Street. In "A Study in Scarlet" Sherlock Holmes investigates a murder at Lauriston Gardens as Dr. Watson tags along with Holmes while narratively detailing his amazing deductive abilities. less
Recommended by Michael Dirda, and 1 others.

Michael DirdaIf you’ve never read any Sherlock Holmes books you really need to start with that one because it introduces this rather mysterious and romantic character. At the beginning, Doctor Watson tries to puzzle out the profession of his strange roommate at 221b Baker Street. He makes lists of what Holmes seems to know a lot about and what he doesn’t seem to know about at all – including the Copernican... (Source)

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28
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the...
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29
In Londoners, acclaimed journalist Craig Taylor paints readers an epic portrait of today’s London that is as rich and lively as the city itself. In the style of Studs Terkel (Working, Hard Times, The Good War) and Dave Isay (Listening Is an Act of Love), Londoners offers up  the stories, the gripes, the memories, and the dreams of those in the great and vibrant British metropolis who “love it, hate it, live it, left it, and long for it,” from a West End rickshaw driver to a Soldier of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to a recovering heroin... more

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30
Call the Midwife' is a most extraordinary book and should be required reading of all students of midwifery, nursing, sociology and modern history. It tells of the experiences of a young trainee midwife in the East End of London in the 1950's and is a graphic portrayal of the quite appalling conditions that the East Enders endured. less

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Don't have time to read the top London books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.
31
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets...
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Simon Baron-CohenIn fiction the writer has some licence to deviate from what is real – it’s a work of art, ultimately, for people’s interest and enjoyment, but I think that the character is very recognisable of many people with Asperger syndrome. I think the author has done a very good job. (Source)

Vanessa KengI've always loved fiction - mainly crime and legal thrillers, but there's something wonderful about reading a completely different style of writing from what I'm used to. I found myself absorbed in the narrative of guilt and love in The Kite Runner, and The Curious Incident told me a story from a completely different perspective. (Source)

Robert MuchamoreMark Haddon wrote a spy series for eight- or nine-year-olds and then he suddenly comes out with this rather brilliant novel. Is it an adult book? Is it a kids’ book? So many people can read it and approach it. (Source)

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32

84, Charing Cross Road

This charming classic, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that will grab your heart and not let go. less

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33

Dracula

“Welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.” less

Becky Cloonan@Noise_Raptor Oh, thank you so much! This book was such a delight, and such a challenge! Dracula is one of my favorites- funny enough I'd jump at the chance to do this again XD (Source)

Douglas StarrWhen you read the physical description of Count Dracula, he does not resemble the handsome vampires we see on television; rather, he looks like a thug. He has one continuous eyebrow across his forehead, thick hands, pointy teeth and pointy ears. (Source)

Andrei CodrescuVampirism is a growth industry. Dracula is bigger than Jesus now. (Source)

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34

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Librarian note: Alternate cover edition of 9780765356154.

Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke's magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains,...
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Recommended by Lev Grossman, Tendai Huchu, and 2 others.

Lev GrossmanIt’s a magic that feels absolutely real, as if the book were an eyewitness account. Not since Lewis has the supernatural been such a thrilling, immediate, concrete presence on the page. It’s no accident that I began The Magicians in 2004 – Strange is the book that woke me up to the power of the new fantasy. Read it, and you may be woken up too. (Source)

Tendai HuchuI chose this book because it really blurs the line between fiction and history. Just the use of footnotes and references to texts that likely don’t exist yet unless Susanna Clarke writes them in! (Source)

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35
‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’

People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try...
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Jim Lee@thecameroncuffe @skydart Lovely pic! And a great show! (And book 👍🏼) (Source)

Veronica Belmont@stephenmalovski Not necessary but the book is great! (Source)

Zoe Keating@TheTwoHeadedBoy @GoodOmensPrime @neilhimself I love the book so much. Re-read it in preparation. (Source)

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36

Wolf Hall

Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself.

His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
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Neera Tanden@BarackObama Wolf Hall is a great book. (Source)

Vanora BennettThe Tudor monarchy has a big moment with England leaving the Church of Rome for love – that’s the moment every film and television writer is interested in. She turns it upside down. (Source)

Thomas PennHilary Mantel possesses an extraordinary historical imagination and her recreation of the world of the 1530s through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell is, I think, utterly convincing. (Source)

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37

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, DL (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930)
was a Scottish author most noted for his stories about the
detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major
innovation in the field of crime fiction, and the adventures of
Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works
include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and
romances, poetry, and non-fiction. Conan was originally a given
name, but Doyle used it as part of his surname in his later years.
less

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38

Lies Sleeping (Peter Grant, #7)

Join Peter Grant, detective and apprentice wizard, for a brand new case . . .

Martin Chorley, aka the Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud, and crimes against humanity, has been unmasked and is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring Chorley to justice.

But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that Chorley, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan. A plan that has...
more

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39
London Under is a wonderful, atmospheric, historical, imaginative, oozing little study of everything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers and gang hide-outs. The depth below is hot, much warmer than the surface and this book tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures that dwell in darkness, real and fictional -- rats and eels, monsters and ghosts.

There is a bronze-age trackway under the Isle of Dogs, Wren found Anglo-Saxon graves under St Paul's, and the monastery of Whitefriars lies...
more

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40

Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant, #5)

In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London - to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can't take the London out of the copper.

Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what's more all the...
more

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41

Fingersmith

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her...
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42
Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:
a. lose 7 pounds
b. stop smoking
c. develop Inner Poise

"123 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier? Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)..."

Bridget Jones' Diary is the devastatingly self-aware,...
more

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43
Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses. 'It is time,' he said, 'for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything.'

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry. He is desperate to get back to school and find out why his friends Ron and Hermione have been so secretive all summer. However, what Harry is about to discover in his new year at Hogwarts will turn his world upside down...
(back cover)
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Recommended by Shami Chakrabarti, and 1 others.

Shami ChakrabartiIt’s all about the War on Terror as far as I’m concerned. (Source)

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44

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

Harry Potter is leaving Privet Drive for the last time. But as he climbs into the sidecar of Hagrid’s motorbike and they take to the skies, he knows Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters will not be far behind.

The protective charm that has kept him safe until now is broken. But the Dark Lord is breathing fear into everything he loves. And he knows he can’t keep hiding.

To stop Voldemort, Harry knows he must find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them.

He will have to face his enemy in one final battle.
--jkrowling.com
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45

Brick Lane

A captivating read from a debut novelist, Brick Lane brings the immigrant milieu of East London to vibrant life. With great poignancy, Ali illuminates a foreign world; her well-developed characters pull readers along on a deeply psychological, almost spiritual journey. Through the eyes of two Bangladeshi sisters—the plain Nazneen and the prettier Hasina—we see the divergent paths of the contemporary descendants of an ancient culture. Hasina elopes to a "love marriage," and young Nazneen, in an arranged marriage, is pledged to a much older man living in London.

Ali's...
more
Recommended by David Goodhart, and 1 others.

David GoodhartI thought Monica Ali was brilliant at getting under the skin of a Bangladeshi woman brought to England as part of an arranged marriage. There’s a spirit in her that wants to break out. In that sense it’s a very Western, Hollywood narrative of breaking out from constraint. I wasn’t quite sure about the communication with the sister in Bangladesh, which I didn’t feel quite worked. But I thought it... (Source)

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46
Jack the Ripper is back, and he's coming for Rory next....

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him - the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target...unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to...

more

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47

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)

Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left... more

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48
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe...
more

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49
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for...
more

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50
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world...
more
Recommended by Francisco Perez Mackenna, and 1 others.

Francisco Perez Mackenna​This summer, Mackenna is learning more about the birth of behavioral economics, the psychology of white collar crime, and the restoration of American cities as locations of economic growth. (Source)

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51

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. The work is commonly known today as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde. It is about a London lawyer named John Gabriel Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. less

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52
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys...
more

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53
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for...
more

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54
There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there's a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police's Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying...
more

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55

V for Vendetta

"Remember, remember the fifth of November..."

A frightening and powerful tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world, V for Vendetta stands as one of the highest achievements of the comics medium and a defining work for creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Set in an imagined future England that has given itself over to fascism, this groundbreaking story captures both the suffocating nature of life in an authoritarian police state and the redemptive power of the human spirit which rebels against it. Crafted with...
more
Recommended by Boris Starling, Evan Goldberg, and 2 others.

Boris StarlingV for Vendetta is a graphic novel set in a future, fascist Britain. It mirrors 1984 in some ways. The fascists are called Norsefire. (Source)

Evan GoldbergI often give [this book] to people. (Source)

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56

The London Eye Mystery

11.32am. Ted and his sister Kat watch their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye. The pod rises from the ground, high above the city.

12.02am. The pod lands and the doors open. Everyone exits - everyone but Salim.

Has he spontaneously combusted? (Ted's theory.)
Has he been kidnapped? (Aunt Gloria's theory.)
Is he even still alive? (The family's unspoken fear.)

Even the police are baffled - so it's up to Ted, whose brain runs on its own unique operating system, to solve this mystery and find Salim. Teaming up with Kat, Ted follows a trail of clues...
more
Recommended by Robin Stevens, and 1 others.

Robin StevensIn The London Eye Mystery, if you read it again and again – and I have – you’ll start seeing that there literally isn’t a word out of place. (Source)

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57

NW

Set in northwest London, Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragicomic novel follows four locals—Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan—as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. In private houses and public parks, at work and at play, these Londoners inhabit a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Depicting the modern urban zone—familiar to city-dwellers everywhere—NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital,... more

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58

The Lonely Londoners

From the brilliant, sharp, witty pen of Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners is a classic novel of immigrant life in 1950s London.

At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry 'Sir Galahad' Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo? But the irrepressible newcomer cannot be cast down....
more
Recommended by Christine L. Corton, and 1 others.

Christine L. CortonHe came over to London from Trinidad in the 1950s, part of the Windrush immigration. He was among the first black, immigrant writers to be published in this country. The Lonely Londoners was published in 1956. He sees the fog as yet another reason why someone from the West Indies would feel this was an isolating place. Not only are they experiencing the coldness of the British people, who they’d... (Source)

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59

Her Fearful Symmetry

Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers--with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home...
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60

Tipping the Velvet

Nan King, an oyster girl, is captivated by the music hall phenomenon Kitty Butler, a male impersonator extraordinaire treading the boards in Canterbury. Through a friend at the box office, Nan manages to visit all her shows and finally meet her heroine. Soon after, she becomes Kitty's dresser and the two head for the bright lights of Leicester Square where they begin a glittering career as music-hall stars in an all-singing and dancing double act. At the same time, behind closed doors, they admit their attraction to each other and their affair begins. less
Recommended by Vanora Bennett, and 1 others.

Vanora BennettIt is. It’s about a girl named Nan who goes off to the Pantomime Theatre, which is on the South Coast of England, and sees a girl named Kitty, who is a male impersonator, on the stage and falls in love with her. You’re not sure if it’s a sexual love or a girlish crush but she does go off to London with her and it does turn into a love affair. They begin living together but it becomes complicated... (Source)

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61

Girl, Woman, Other

From one of Britain's most celebrated writers of color, Girl, Woman, Other is a magnificent portrayal of the intersections of identity and a moving and hopeful story of an interconnected group of Black British women that paints a vivid portrait of the state of post-Brexit Britain, as well as looking back to the legacy of Britain's colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.

The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is...
more

Nicola Sturgeon@HannahB4LiviMP And what a present...best book of 2019 IMO (Source)

Trisha GreenhalghThis is a great book. https://t.co/iOLKPuiUsc (Source)

Peter FlorenceI cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this novel. As an author she possesses a prolific voice; she’s got 12 voices, all of which are distinct and engaging and vulnerable in different ways and utterly compelling. (Source)

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62

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE ON NETFLIX - A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a...
more

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63
When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption....
more
Recommended by Robin Stevens, and 1 others.

Robin StevensLockwood & Co is set in a world where ghosts are real and they walk among us. Hauntings are becoming daily more dangerous—and deadly. Only children can see ghosts, so children become the most important people in this world. (Source)

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64

Saturday

From the pen of a master — the #1 bestselling, Booker Prize–winning author of Atonement — comes an astonishing novel that captures the fine balance of happiness and the unforeseen threats that can destroy it. A brilliant, thrilling page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Saturday is a masterful novel set within a single day in February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man — a successful neurosurgeon, happily married to a newspaper lawyer, and enjoying good relations with his children. Henry wakes to the comfort of his large home in central...
more
Recommended by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, and 1 others.

Sarah-Jayne BlakemoreMcEwan spent many months shadowing neurosurgeons at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square. (Source)

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65
Sugar, 19, prostitute in Victorian London, yearns for a better life. From brutal brothel-keeper Mrs Castaway, she ascends in society. Affections of self-involved perfume magnate William Rackham soon smells like love. Her social rise attracts preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all kinds. less

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66
Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard,...
more

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67

Capital

Celebrated novelist John Lanchester (author of The Debt to Pleasure) returns with an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time.

It’s 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London—a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder—are receiving anonymous postcards reading “We Want What You Have.” Who is behind...
more

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68

Rick Steves London 2020

From the sacred stones of Westminster Abbey to the top of the London Eye, the city is yours to discover with Rick Steves! Inside Rick Steves London 2020 you'll find:

Comprehensive coverage for spending a week or more exploring London

Rick's strategic advice on how to get the most out of your time and money, with rankings of his must-see favorites

Top sights and hidden gems, from Trafalgar Square and the Tower of London to where to find the best tikka masala or fish and chips

Connect with local...
more

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69

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)

"The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural...
more

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70

Un Lun Dun

What is Un Lun Dun?

It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero,...
more

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71
Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London—the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their...
more

Isabelle Khurshudyan[email protected] is awesome and you should check this book out! https://t.co/RL8L1xF8xZ (Source)

Sarah ChurchwellMassive congratulations to @HallieRubenhold for being longlisted for the @BGPrize for her brilliant book The Five!! So well deserved and a complete thrill for #twitterstorians! 🎉🎊📚💃 (Source)

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72

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2)

As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman - Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation - which involves a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of... more

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73

London Belongs to Me

Also known as Dulcimer Street, Norman Collins's London Belongs to Me is a Dickensian romp through working-class London on the eve of the Second World War. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Ed Glinert, author of The London Compendium.

It is 1938 and the prospect of war hangs over every London inhabitant. But the city simply doesn't stop. Everywhere people continue to work, drink, fall in love, fight and struggle to get on in life. At the lodging-house at No.10 Dulcimer Street, Kennington, the buttoned-up clerk Mr Josser returns...
more

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74

The End of the Affair

"A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses a moment of experience from which to look ahead..."

"This is a record of hate far more than of love," writes Maurice Bendrix in the opening passages of The End of the Affair, and it is a strange hate indeed that compels him to set down the retrospective account of his adulterous affair with Sarah Miles.

Now, a year after Sarah's death, Bendrix seeks to exorcise the persistence of his passion by retracing its course from obsessive love to love-hate. At first, he believes he hates Sarah and her husband,...
more
Recommended by Evan Zimroth, and 1 others.

Evan Zimroth(Laughs) Well that is a provocative question. This may come as a surprise, but I got into Gangsters, not because of the adultery, but because of the theology. So in other words, what I was doing before I began work on it was to join a study group of writers and biblical scholars who came together to talk about different parts of The Bible. And I had never done anything of the kind before. I’d... (Source)

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75

Our Mutual Friend

A satiric masterpiece about the allure and peril of money, Our Mutual Friend revolves around the inheritance of a dust-heap where the rich throw their trash. When the body of John Harmon, the dust-heap’s expected heir, is found in the Thames, fortunes change hands surprisingly, raising to new heights “Noddy” Boffin, a low-born but kindly clerk who becomes “the Golden Dustman.” Charles Dickens’s last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend encompasses the great themes of his earlier works: the pretensions of the nouveaux riches, the ingenuousness of the aspiring poor, and the unfailing... more
Recommended by Iain Sinclair, Christine L. Corton, and 2 others.

Iain SinclairThis book comes very late in Dickens’s own career, but it has a powerful sense – a sense that’s been crucial to me – of London depending on the river. (Source)

Christine L. CortonWe have this tour de force writing where he describes the London fog. It’s grey in the countryside and as it moves closer to the centre of the City of London it gets blacker and blacker. (Source)

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76

Necropolis

London and Its Dead

Layer upon layer of London soil reveals burials from pre-historic and medieval times. The city is one giant grave, filled with the remains of previous eras. The Houses of Parliament sit on the edge of a former plague pit; St Paul's is built over human remains; Underground tunnels were driven through forgotten catacombs, thick with bones. A society can be judged by the way it treats its dead, and this is especially true of London. From Roman burial rites to the horrors of the plague, from the founding of the great Victorian cemeteries to the development of cremation and the cult of mourning... more

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77

Queenie

The painful and comic story of a 25 year-old black woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. less
Recommended by Stephanie Yeboah, and 1 others.

Stephanie YeboahHello, just popping in to say that 'Queenie' by @CandiceC_W is FINALLY OUT. I read this last year (and read it again a few weeks ago) and was shook because Candice literally wrote about me.😭 The POWER this book has. A love letter to black women! https://t.co/pu2bVWh6OI (Source)

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78

About a Boy

'How cool was Will Freeman?'

Too cool! At thirty-six, he's as hip as a teenager. He's single, child-free, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He's also found a great way to score with women: attend single parents' groups full of available (and grateful) mothers, all hoping to meet a Nice Guy.

Which is how Will meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old on the planet. Marcus is a bit strange: he listens to Joni Mitchell and Mozart, looks after his mum and has never owned a pair of trainers. But Marcus latches on to Will - and won't let go. Can...
more

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79
Manchmal ist es ein echtes Kreuz, in einer Familie zu leben, die jede Menge Geheimnisse hat. Der Überzeugung ist zumindest die 16-jährige Gwendolyn.

Bis sie sich eines Tages aus heiterem Himmel im London um die letzte Jahrhundertwende wiederfindet. Und ihr klar wird, dass ausgerechnet sie das allergrößte Geheimnis ihrer Familie ist. Was ihr dagegen nicht klar ist: Dass man sich zwischen den Zeiten möglichst nicht verlieben sollte. Denn das macht die Sache erst recht kompliziert!
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80

David Copperfield

David Copperfield is the story of a young man's adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr Murdstone; his brilliant, but ultimately unworthy school-friend James Steerforth; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble, yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora Spenlow; and the magnificently impecunious Wilkins Micawber, one of literature's great comic creations. In David Copperfield - the... more
Recommended by Jenny Hartley, and 1 others.

Jenny HartleyThat famous Victorian imperative: Make ’em laugh; make ’em cry; make ’em wait. It does all that in that spades. (Source)

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81

One Day

15th July 1988: Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that?

And every year that follows?
--back cover
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82

Swing Time

Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from northwest London to West Africa,...
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83

The Hound of the Baskervilles

We owe The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) to Arthur Conan Doyle's good friend Fletcher "Bobbles" Robinson, who took him to visit some scary English moors and prehistoric ruins, and told him marvelous local legends about escaped prisoners and a 17th-century aristocrat who fell afoul of the family dog. Doyle transmogrified the legend: generations ago, a hound of hell tore out the throat of devilish Hugo Baskerville on the moonlit moor. Poor, accursed Baskerville Hall now has another mysterious death: that of Sir Charles Baskerville. Could the culprit somehow be mixed up with secretive... more
Recommended by Michael Dirda, Peter James, and 2 others.

Michael DirdaHolmes turns to Mortimer and says, A man’s or a woman’s? and Mortimer delivers the greatest reply in 20th century literature, Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound! I shivered with pleasure and realised that life didn’t get much better than that. (Source)

Peter JamesIt actually scared me the first time I read it as a kid. And I have always liked it. It is my favourite of all his books and it has a very clever ending. (Source)

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84

Dodger

A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's...Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl--not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber...
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85

Hangover Square

Hamilton captures the edgy, obsessive and eventually murderous mindset of a romantically frustrated British man in this WWII-era novel. London 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation with Netta who is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in hell, until something goes click in his head and he realizes that he must kill her. less
Recommended by Iain Sinclair, Simon Brett, and 2 others.

Iain SinclairI chose Patrick Hamilton because he hits, in particular, on the derangement of the city. He was a big drinker. His writing is like the hallucination or the delirium of an alcoholic dream, and sees London as a kind of nightmare. (Source)

Simon BrettYes. It’s a study of schizophrenia, in a way. The main character, George Harvey Bone, goes into these strange trance states. Like a lot of Patrick Hamilton’s characters, he is devoted to a woman who is not worthy of him, who is one step up from a prostitute. He’s obsessed with her, and eventually ends up murdering her. It’s just an incredibly written, claustrophobic book that would be in my top... (Source)

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86

The Silent Patient

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art...
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87
Like her previous books, this book is the product of the author's passionate interest in the realities of everyday life - and the conditions in which most people lived - so often left out of history books.

This period of mid-Victorian London covers a huge span: Victoria's wedding and the place of the royals in popular esteem; how the very poor lived, the underworld, prostitution, crime, prisons and transportation; the public utilities - Bazalgette on sewers and road design, Chadwick on pollution and sanitation; private charities - Peabody, Burdett Coutts - and workhouses; new...
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88

The Night Circus

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus...
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89

High Fidelity

Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups?

Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn't on it - even though she's just become his latest ex. He's got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behaves as if Laura never mattered. But Rob finds he can't move on. He's stuck in a really deep groove - and it's called Laura. Soon, he's asking himself some big questions: about love, about life - and about why we choose to share...
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Recommended by Timothy Ferriss, and 1 others.

Timothy FerrissAt one point, this was the only book listed on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. If it’s good enough to be the sole selection of the founder of Facebook, maybe there’s something to it. The plot: In anticipation of another attack from a hostile alien race, the search for a brilliant military strategist has led to Ender Wiggin. In space combat school, Ender stands out, demonstrating exceptional... (Source)

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90

The Flatshare

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…


Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the...
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91
Irene must be at the top of her game or she'll be off the case - permanently...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission - to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested - the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and...
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92
The acclaimed author of Troublesome Young Men reveals the behind-the-scenes story of how the United States forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from the perspective of three key American players in London: Edward R. Murrow, the handsome, chain-smoking head of CBS News in Europe; Averell Harriman, the hard-driving millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program in London; and John Gilbert Winant, the shy, idealistic U.S. ambassador to Britain. Each man formed close ties with Winston Churchill—so much so that all became romantically involved with members of the prime minister’s... more

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93
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerising) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.
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94

One Day in December

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic... and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend...
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95

Small Island

Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer's daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.

Told in these four voices, Small Island is a courageous novel...
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96
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends.

But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable...
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97

The Paying Guests

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new...
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98
It's only my second week at Kensington School, and things are getting complicated.

I thought my relationship with Harry was finished, but he came over late one night, apologized, and asked me to be his girlfriend. I swooned right there, in the middle of the street.


And we are definitely back together.


He calls me babe, brings me flowers, and is planning our first official date.


Our relationship is growing, and I'm starting to want him in ways I never expected.


I'm falling for him.


But then there's Noah.


I...
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99

White Fang

White Fang is part dog and part wolf, and the lone survivor of his family. In his lonely world, he soon learns to follow the harsh law of the North--kill or be killed. But nothing in White Fang's life can prepare him for the cruel owner who turns him into a vicious killer. Will White Fang ever know the kindness of a gentle master? less

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100

Warlight

It is 1945, and London is still reeling from years of war. Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister, Rachel, seemingly abandoned by their parents, have been left in the care of an enigmatic figure they call The Moth. They suspect he may be a criminal and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect and educate (in rather unusual ways) the siblings. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And how should Nathaniel and Rachel feel when their mother... more
Recommended by Barack Obama, Katharine Grant, and 2 others.

Barack ObamaAs 2018 draws to a close, I’m continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved. It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors – some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before. Here’s my best of 2018... (Source)

Katharine GrantWarlight is a book of mysteries shrouded in detail: life in the nether regions of a smart hotel; the watery byways of East London down which greyhounds are smuggled. And matching the mysteries are the people: the Moth, the Darter; Marsh Felon. It’s a book to read and re-read. (Source)

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Don't have time to read the top London books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.