Londoners spend an average of an hour+ on their daily commute. Some people sleep or stare into space, some listen to music, others scoop up the free newspapers. I usually read books. Here’s what I’ve been reading. The ones worth a read are bold. 

Here’s a few of my favorite London reads too. 

What are you reading right now? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Recommendations always welcome!


Short Walks from Bogota by Tom Feiling
House of Stone by Xiaolu
Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

Capital by John Lanchester (Reading Now)
Spain in Mind: An Anthology, edited by Alice Leccese Powers (Reading Now)


The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, and the Vietnam War by Denise Chong
Style Feed: The World’s Top Fashion Blogs by William Oliver, selected by Susie Bubble
Paris Street Style by Isabelle Thomas & Frederique Veysset
Adventure Divas by Holly Morris
All Gone to Look for America by Peter Miller
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Divine Supermarket by Malise Ruthven
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Absolute Beginners by Colin Macinnes
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo


Ox Travels introduced by Michael Palin
The Help by Katheryn Stockett 
Street Knowledge by King Ads
One Day by David Nicholls
Loco by John Binias
Ghosts by Daylight by Janine di Giovanni
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Spitalfields Life by The Gentle Author
The birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Starter for Ten by David Nicholls
The Sound of No Hands Clapping by Toby Young
A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
The Best Women’s Travel Writing Volume 8 Edited by Lavinia Spalding
The Wonderbox by Roman Krznaric
The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot


A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
Butterflies in Bucaramanga by Tanna Patterson-Z
Beyond Botota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia by Gary Leech
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sold by Patricia McCormick
The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle by Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Tom Howes
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Hidden by Tomas Mournian
Twice Colombia: Adventure, Friendship, and Adoption in the Andes Mountains by Patricia Woodard
The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Even Silence has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle by Ingrid Betancourt
The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Jennifer Steil
Kosher Chinese by Michael Levy
Arresting God in Kathmandu by Samrat Upadhyay
The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki and David Chadwick
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood by Michael Walker
Londoners by Craig Taylor 
Candy by Mian Mian


Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor
The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall

Are You Experienced by William Sutcliffe
Spices of Brick Lane by Forid Afzal Uddin
When Memory Dies by A. Sivanandan
White City Blue by Tim Lott
Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni

Madness Visible: A Memoir of War by Janine di Giovanni
Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire by Iain Sinclair
Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni
Lovers in the Age of Indifference by Xiaolu Guo
Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Mesures): True Stories from a War Zone by K. Cain, H. Postlewait, A. Thomson

From There to Here: Sixteen True Tales of Immigration to Britain
Koolaids by Rabih Alameddine
Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

My Colombia War: A Journey Through the Country I Left Behind by Silvana Paternostro
The Armies by Evelio Rosero
Viva South America – A Journey Through a Restless Continent by Oliver Balch
Mud: Stories of Sex and Love by Michele Roberts
Cockroach by Rawi Hage
Tales from the Town of Widows by James Cañón
The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010 by Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Room by Emma Donoghue

Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel


White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart
The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam
Desert Children by Waris Dirie
The Place at the End of the World by Janine di Giovanni

Book of Peoples of the World: A Guide to Cultures by National Geographic
The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann
My Life as a Traitor by Zarah Ghahramani
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb
The Road Home by Rose Tremain
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

An Introduction to Social Anthropology by Joy Hendry
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
India by Sanjeev Bhaskar
The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
Rothko’s Red and Other Stories by Sue Hubbard
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science by Mary Roach
Cityboy by Geriant Anderson
One People, Many Journeys by Lonely Planet
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Chowringhee by Sankar
253 by Geoff Ryman

Her Feet Chime by Rumki Chowdhury
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

Home by Marilynne Robinson
The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels
Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi
One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories
The Scent of Dried Roses by Tim Lott
Bodies by Jed Mercurio

The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski
Dreams of Rivers and Seas by Tim Parks

Encyclopaedia of Snow by Sarah Emily Miano
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
Love Marriage by V. V. Ganeshananthan

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Human Love by Andrei Makine
No God in Sight by Altaf Tyrewala

The Company of Women by Khushwant Singh
Londonstani by Gautam Malkani

The Weekenders – Adventures in Calcutta edited by Andrew O’Hagan
Tourism by Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal
6 Billion Others: Portraits of Humanity from Around the World by Yann Arthus-Bertrand


The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
We Lived with a Mountain by John McGourty
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Gou

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Editorial Design by Yolanda Zappaterra
The Sorrows of an American by Siri Hustvedt
A Hedonist’s Guide to Life
The Island by 
Victoria Hislop
Expat by Christina Henry de Tessan (editor)
Go Your Own Way by Christina Henry de Tessan, Ingrid Emerick, Faith Conlan (editors)

Down Under by Bill Bryson
This is for You by Rob Ryan
Life’s Too Fucking Short by Janet Street Porter
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The Return by Victoria Hislop
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson
Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir

11 comments on “Bookshelf

  1. Pingback: London Relocation Loves Little London Observationist (say that 5 times fast!) | London Relocation Blog

  2. 1984, The Raw Shark Texts, Jane Eyre, Brave New World, Room…just to name a few, and I don’t know if they are on your list because I only looked at 2011 but those are some of my most favourite novels.

  3. I don’t live in London, but in another city where reading during daily commute is the best way to spend that time: Moscow. Right now I’m reading The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littel which is one of the best books I’ve read in years. Before that I read Exit Ghost by Philip Roth, also a masterpiece.

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  5. No bold font for Everything is illuminated??
    I’m a big JSF fan. Do check out Extremely Loud and Incredible Close.

    Reading it is an amazingly moving experience.

    God of Small Things, by Arundati Roy is also brilliant.

    Love London. Great blog. Smiles.


    • Thanks Shin! I have to say, I wasn’t a massive fan of Everything is Illuminated. It was good, but not bold-worthy for me. I do understand the appeal though and I will read Extremely Loud out of curiosity. I love God of Small Things by Arundati Roy. Think I read it before I started this list though so it’s probably not on there! Cheers for the recommendation. Any more, I’d love to hear them! x

  6. Pingback: Little Weekend Links 4 | Little ObservationistLittle Observationist

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