Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Books Set in London


Today, the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list my Top Ten Favorite Books With X Setting.


So, bearing in mind the current book I am enjoying Neverwhere is set in London, I am going to list my top ten books that are set in London and because I just realized that any book set in London just adds to my reading pleasure. I think the city setting just encourages wonderful literature.

  1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – I know, I know, I haven’t yet finished this book. How can I add it to this list? But, this book is seriously amaze balls. While reading this book, I was looking through London’s underground map all the time. Also reading this book, it’s obvious that Gaiman loves London, and he’s passed on the love to at least one of his readers too.
  2. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger – OK, this book was just about all right for me. The story didn’t work but the London setting and Highgate cemetary in particular are real standouts. Can you believe I did not have to look up the cemetary name while writing out this list? It’s a book I read two years back, and still I remember this detail.
  3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I know the major scenes are set in Hogwarts, but the platform at Paddington station is so memorable that I just have to include it here.
  4. Bleak House by Charles Dickens – This book is one of my favorite classics and gives a wonderful insight into how London must have been during Dickensian times.
  5. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding – I don’t know about you, but English chick-lit is a whole different genre altogether, and Bridget Jones is the top of the tops. I don’t enjoy chick-lit in New York but chick-lit in London? Love them all…even the most trite ones 🙂
  6. Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances – I have a special fondness for all her books that are based in London…Almack’s, the society gossip, the parties, the glamour, and the wit and humor…I love all her books.
  7. Agatha Christie’s mysteries – I much prefer Christie’s exotic mysteries (Mesopotamia! Egypt!), but her London based books are pretty good too. Think Hickory Dickory Dock, The Clocks, and At Bertram’s Hotel (ok, ok, this is one of her weaker books, but I still loved it). Agatha Christie could write in her sleep and I would still lap it up. Not for nothing is she the Dame).
  8. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene – Lovely book set in London and a very moving read.
  9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré – It’s a slow book, but very atmospheric, and London is a great city for atmosphere.
  10. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud – This is a completely different London from the one we know, but the books are awesome and definitely need to be included in this list.

Do you love books in a particular setting? What makes you love that setting so? I don’t know why London is so hot for me, I think just the long history and that some of the best writers set their stories there.

  • Such a good list, nice mix of things I haven’t and want to read! Was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy easy or difficult prose wise?

    • @Alice: It’s not difficult to read prose wise, but I did have trouble understanding the sequence of events. The book moves back and forth from past to present without any clear indication. There were times when I read an entire page before realizing that this is George reflecting on what happened in the past.

      And in the end, I still didn’t have a clear picture of how far back in the past things happened. Timeline fogginess drives me nuts, but I think that’s just me, and most people may not be too bothered about it.

      It’s a very interesting story though, for sure.

  • I would like to read all these books! 🙂

  • Shweta

    My favorite book with a London setting would be The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell. It has two time periods in the narrative – present day London and 1950s Soho and it is so atmospheric. You should definitely read it sometime!

    • @Shweta: More London book reccos. I love how many recommendations I am getting in the comments :). I have heard of Maggie O’Farrell, and this book sounds very interesting. Thanks!

  • My favorite book set in London is Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. Good choices!
    My TTT.

    • @Jillyn: Thanks for visiting and the recco. I will look out for this one.

  • London is such a good city for setting books in. Oh I miss London. I wish I could go back and visit lovely London. There are few pleasures that make me as happy as taking the Tube to the South Bank while reading Neverwhere.

    • @Jenny: I actually lived there for a couple of years when I was a kid. It was a sad time in our lives (my grandfather was sick and he eventually passed away). But I have very fond memories of the place. The weather sucks though.

  • Obviously I need to read Neverwhere, as I’m more than a tiny bit entranced by the Underground. I dedicated a whole page to it in my London scrapbook (which is, to this day, the only scrapbook I’ve ever completed.) And BRIDGET!!!!!!!!! I just love love love Bridget!

    • @Katie: If you are an Underground buff, you just have to read this book. Ever wondered why Earl’s Court is named Earl’s Court? This book has all the answers. Definitive 🙂

  • Coincidentally, I’m commenting from London (albeit in transit!)

    Ireally liked Her Fearful Symmetry. And Bartimaeus! 😀

    Have you read any historical fic set in London? I have phases when I read only those.

    • @Laavanya: How cool that you are in London now. Where are you off to? Mail me if comments are too public 🙂 About historical fiction, I am sure there are many, but Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel has got very good reviews. I think it’s set in London for the most part. Also, try Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, and Phillipa Gregory’s books.

      Happy journey!

      • I have just bookmarked this page for all the book reccommendations! 😀

        Actually, I was in London for a transit. I’m starting grad school at UPenn, Philadelphia.

        I’ve been sort of skeptical about Georgette Heyer’s books; just that it might be a cheesy romance (I know, I shouldn’t judge, but), and yup, I love Philippa Gregory. I’m yet to explore the library here at uni; which I’m sure will be frabjous!

        • @Laavanya: Congratulations and all the best 🙂 GH books are romances primarily, but they are also quite witty and many times non-cliched. Her style takes some getting used to, but very addictive

  • I am a sucker for regency England, though I have now moved on to the world war 1 era… The Bartimeaus trilogy is a new one for me, will definitely look it up.

    • @Malvika: Oh, I am a sucker for England overall :). It sounds very snooty 🙁 but I generally love books based there

    • @Malvika: If WW1 and England is your thing, try Atonement by Ian McEwan- it’s really pretty good. Another one is The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.

    • Atonement and The House at Riverton are amazing books! Good recs, Nish 🙂 Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford or the Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford are both good books if you are enjoying that era (it’s a favourite of mine too.)

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