There are certain challenges that arise when you plan on moving to London.
First, you have all the nitty-gritty logistics of getting here in the first place. Booking your flights, finding a flat, contacting everyone you know who already lives here for advice. You know the drill. After that it comes down to moving your stuff (we know a thing or two about that, by the way) and finally getting your keys.
So what happens after that? How do you immerse yourself into London living?
Well, that’s down to you really. But if you believe that learning everything about the culture, customs and local history of your new-found city is the best starting point, here are a few of our favourite books about London.
By Virginia Woolf
How much can you learn about living in London in just 24 hours?
Putting aside City Tours for one moment, Mrs Dalloway is a Bloomsbury classic that unravels the opposing stories of two women on a single day in 1923.
In terms of London landmarks, this wonderful book recounts everything from the bustling traffic of Piccadilly Circus to Bond Street – all under the watchful eyes of Big Ben.
It’s a fantastic introduction into the literary lives that have shaped this city, both new and old (there’s plenty of Shakespearean references in there too, just sayin’).
If you’re already sold, you now have a choice. You can either spend a few wondrous hours scavenging for Mrs Dalloway in the legendary bookstore, Foyles. Or you can shop on Amazon. Either way is fine with us.
Down and Out in Paris and London
By George Orwell
London might be infamous now for its gentrification and overpriced flat whites, but that’s not always been true.
In 1933, George Orwell published a part-novel, part-autobiography about the hardships and horrors facing the poor in Europe’s metropolises.
The second half of his book, set in London, sees the city through the eyes of a down and out writer – a man who’s forced into a kind of nomadic homelessness as he struggles to survive.
Sure, it might not be the most romantic vision of London you’ve imagined. But Down and Out was the first literary breakthrough of Orwell’s, and set a new standard for documenting and exploring the ordinary lives of London’s inhabitants.
London: The Biography
By Peter Ackroyd
It’s last on our list, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Or just plain useful, really.
In his characteristically engaging and intricate style, Peter Ackroyd traces the biography of London from its Roman origins straight through to the present day.
Expect lots of intriguing tidbits about the grizzly history of London’s tube network, ghosts in the Tower of London, and how years of Blitz bombardment scarred and reinvented the city.
It’s a modern masterpiece.
Books for moving to London
There’s little doubt that London has changed dramatically since the turbulent times of Virginia Woolf and George Orwell. But that’s why we enjoy reading their stories so much. If you want to learn about what makes London distinctly, well, London, these authors each offer a precious snapshot to time that’s all but lost. Unless you know where to look.
It should also be pointed out that all this additional learning is invaluable for pub quizzes.
If you have any other book recommendations for people moving to London, kindly follow us and share them on Twitter.