Yet More London Books!


I can’t imagine how the Kindle will ever cope with books like these. iPad apps are already providing interactive cookbooks, but London guidebooks are collectable and designed for ease of use when walking about. Here are three new volumes about the city.

London’s Hidden Secrets by Graeme Chesters has a page designated for each find – places like Leighton House Museum and Chelsea Physic Garden are not really ‘hidden’ but their details are clear and succinctly written, and throw up a few surprises. One of my favourite London ‘secrets’ is Lincoln’s Inn, and there’s a good piece about the area being divided into four and how to navigate it.

‘Vanishing London’ by Paul Joseph has a lot of rare photography, and is altogether sadder. The section on ‘London Zeitgeist’ has some brilliant pictures of gangs of Teddy Boys in the fifties to the seventies.

But the gem of the trio is ‘Londoners’ by Craig Taylor, about those who saw the city for the first time, why they stayed, why they left, how they survived. On the first page an arrival is puzzled; ‘Why do they have such neat little houses, then stick their dustbins right by the front door?’ How is London fed? Who clears up? It’s a book you could produce equally well about New York or Paris, and is full of insights.