10 Books Set in London, the World’s Best City

London, with Parliament and Big Ben

London is the greatest city on the planet, so let’s not even bother fighting about it.

Yes, MAYBE this is conjecture. Yes, MAYBE this is based on personal experiences that couldn’t possibly be understood by others who weren’t there to experience them. And yes, MAYBE this is 100% up for negotiation by people who are not me. But a lively grownup debate will not be had, because I will kindly tell you to take the words that I don’t like out of your mouth and replace them with the following: “Agreed! London IS the best city in the world!” So let’s skip all that unpleasantness and read the books that celebrate our life choices, and maybe if we all wish hard enough, London will let us live in it!

Any Sherlock Holmes book, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Existing in a past version of London, rife with low-hanging fog, cobblestone streets, and wild ghost hounds.

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
A beautiful collection of characters spin a tale of postcolonial life in contemporary London. Plus, FutureMouse is a great band name.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Also existing in a past version of London rife with low-hanging fog and cobblestone streets, but instead of wild ghost dogs, there’s a wild maniac man running around.

High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
Hey hipsters, it’s set in a record shop in London. Just kidding, you’ve already read this and quote it in your OKCupid profile, probably.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
Low-hanging fog + cobblestone streets + orphans + hilarious.

Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
That Bridge. We love her just as she is.

Any Harry Potter book, by J.K. Rowling
Obviously. (Not entirely based in London, but a lot of this book is about magic, so let’s not split hairs, here.)

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
A totalitarian London of the future where everyone’s loving drugs and Henry Ford and each other (in the biblical sense).

Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
A fun if slightly uncomfortable view of what it means to be drowning in debt and also nice things. And this debt is in pounds. And these nice things are British.

At Bertram’s Hotel, by Agatha Christie
It would be remiss to not include something by the prolific and celebrated Dame Agatha Christie. And there’s a character in this called Canon Pennyfather, so come on.

What’s your favorite book set in London?

  • Kevin Kennedy

    The Rivers of London books by Ben Aaronovich,

  • Stephanie St. John

    You Forgot Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

  • Chris Peers

    Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd.

  • Matthew Henry

    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is my favorite!

  • TripFiction

    A great choice of books to evoke the city and more in the Comments – definitely The Rivers of London… Have just read Peter Ackroyd’s 3 Brothers which will give an echo of the not-so-swinging-60s; Charlotte Street (which is wonderful for the area around the Post Office Tower) by Danny Wallace; and not to forget Ian McEwan’s Saturday…

  • foxyfifty

    What about books by P. G. Wodehouse? They have the best nicknames.
    Martha Grimes, Elizabeth George and Anne Perry.
    I know I am missing so many!