Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now—As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
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Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now—As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,827 ratings  ·  273 reviews
Here are the voices of London - rich and poor, native and immigrant, women and men - witnessed by Craig Taylor, an acclaimed journalist, playwright and writer, who spent five years exploring the city and listening to its residents. From the woman whose voice announces the stations on the London Underground to the man who plants the trees along Oxford Street; from a Pakista...more
Paperback, 422 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Granta Publications (first published 2011)
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I was discussing with a friend recently what qualified as a Londoner.

We both grew up in Zone 6 within the M25, and although he's lived since in Zone 2 and currently Zone 3, I've stayed in the same outer London borough (although I've upgraded to Zone 5). We both feel like Londoners. He felt more 'part' of London when he lived in Holland Park, compared to Greenwich. I feel more 'part' of London now that I live right next to the Central line, with access to the centre of town within half an hour....more
Frank Callaghan
I am about half way through this book. I admit to hearing it first on Radoi 4 where it was 'Book of the week'. I enjoyed listening to it before dropping off to sleep. Now that I am reading it I am less interested. It started off well. I enjoyed the short clips and the variety it offered, but as I progress through it, the style is unvaried in how each story is presented. It becomes a bit stale and the tales tend to merge and lack any real bite. I will of course persevere, but although it's an eas...more
John Stiles
When I first heard about this book I was wondering how this would work. As a fellow Canadian living in London and having spent the bulk of my formative years in Canada, I pondered what more could a guy from the suburbs of Western Canada possibly have to say about the people that live and work in this ancient city? After all hasn't London already been covered by storied writers as varied as Pepys, Dafoe, Blake, Shakespeare, Dickens, AA Gill, John Lanchester, to name but a few? What could a Canadi...more
Harry Rutherford
This makes a good pair with Daily Life in Victorian London. It's a compilation of interviews with Londoners of all sorts. Some of them are the obvious London clichés—black cab driver, yeoman warder, hedge fund manager, refugee—and some are more exotic: beekeeper, dominatrix, Wiccan priestess. And most are are just, well, ordinary: teacher, street cleaner, personal trainer, estate agent, student.

But of course the key to books like this is that 'ordinary' people often turn to be unexpectedly inter...more
Of course I loved it. Instead of telling you why, here are things I liked in it:

"There's only one London. That's it. We are what we are."

"I mean, if you're always striving for success, you end up with something like America, and nobody wants to be like America, really."

"I left a slice of gateau on the Tube today, I was wondering what are the chances of it coming in?"

"She thought it was part of driving in London, someone comes out and, no big deal, threatens to kill you."

"Maybe we need to design...more
At 500 pages, this tome is too long by half. I found myself running out of steam fairly quickly and had to work rather hard to finish. As somewhat of an Anglophile, that wasn't as difficult as it might have been, but I found that I wanted to like this book a lot better than I actually did. There were some fascinating portrayals of the city as well as some rather mundane ones. I suppose that not everybody is going to have an eminently readable perspective, but I wonder, then, what the point of in...more
"To become a yeoman warder, you must have served twenty-two years in the armed forces, have reached the rank of staff sergeant or above, and have been given an exemplary recommendation. I am at the Tower of London to entertain and inform; and, when my day is over, I don’t have to go far to see my wife: we live in the Tower. We’ve got a village green, a doctor living beside us, and plenty of neighbors. But no one believes we actually live there. 'What’s it like?' 'Have you got electricity?' We he...more
I'm a huge fan of books about cities--what makes each city unique, what makes each city a character. And I love books that undermine stereotypes about cities (Paris is not all macarons, L.A. is not all noir and drive-thru restaurants, London has changed since Dickens was around). But it's hard to find a fresh approach.

This book is a collection of interviews with a range of ordinary, not famous people. It isn't the kind of book you get to plan a trip or to study the history of a city. This is the...more
Oct 10, 2012 Jenny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny by: Washington Week Summer 2012 Reading List
Shelves: character, setting

Londoners is an oral history of a city I’ve never been to but it has fascinated me ever since I picked up my first Charles Dickens novel at the age of 11. Since then, Anglophile that I am, I’ve read loads of books set in London but have never set foot in London so I decided to pick up this book and add to my knowledge of this city beyond Dickensian street urchins and Alan Hollinghurstian gay cruising.

First of all, don’t skip the introduction. Craig Taylor completely sucks you in. The intimate de...more
A collection of stories from Londoners: why they hate it, why they love it, and everything in between. Here are a few of my favorite lines.

"London is propulsion, it rewards those people who push forward. I loved that about it and remembered the disappointment of walking in New York and reaching the end, the water, the point of turning around. In London, even on the days when my knees hurt, my hip hurt, and my Achilles tendon hurt, I loved that sense of constant propulsion."

"Living history is th...more
I'm genuinely having a hard time writing a review for this book. If I could go by the introduction alone it would get an A++. It is nostalgic, personal, descriptive, gives a beautiful homage to the A to Zed (the 1998 copy of which I still have--although if you look at it pages just fall out because I used it so much) and it opens with one of my favorite quotes of all time ("When a man is tired of London he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford" ~Samuel Johnson). It's...more
Elsa Gavriil
When people ask me what is it that I like so much in London, I usually tell them about the art, the museums, the numerous events. And then I stumbled across this phrase in Craig Taylor's book "Londoners": "London is propulsion (...) In London, even on the days when my knees hurt,my hip hurt and my Achilles tend hurt, I could keep going. I could push on". I kow exactly the feeling, and it is for this reason that I keep coming.
Craig Taylor is not a Londoner (at least not according to those claimi...more
R.J. Askew
I loved this book. I heard about it on the radio and instantly knew that I had to read it. In fact, it was my most welcomed Xmaz pressy.

I was also familiar with the original AKENFIELD, which I read some years ago, and so was fascinated to see how the author got from RETURN TO AKENFIELD to LONDONERS. AKENFIELD was an slightly maudlin insight into how we were. I recall feeling exceptionally sad at the passing of the Englishness in AKENFIELD. But being maudlin butters no turnips. It is clear that L...more
Book Addict Shaun
I loved the idea of this book and after reading a few reviews I started it looking forward to a fantastic read. The introduction was great, the first few bits of the book were great but I became bored just under halfway through. When you strip it down it is basically just a collection of stories by random people off the street. I know the author put so much time and research into the book, it clearly shows, and some of the stories and interviews aren't just with 'random' people but that's essent...more
Bailey Dutton
This coming form someone who has lived in the London area myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved reading stories from people all different types of people who have so many differing opinions about the admittedly odd and formidable, yet wonderful city that they all have some connection to. Every story brought an entirely new perspective about London to light, be it negative or positive. It made me see every aspect of London, and the points of different views of the people who do, in fact...more
I read this book to get me psyched about my trip to London. Although the writing was good, the negative views of the city (of which there were a lot) did not do a thing to get me excited for my trip. I really liked the book at first, but then I found the stories started to drag and were anticlimactic.
What a great collection of interesting bits of information about London through the lens of people who have experienced it in so many different ways! I like to try to learn about a city before I visit it, and this book was very helpful in getting a better picture of not what to see as a tourist, but what life is like there for people who live there. I also like to learn strange and mundane facts about cities, like what trees grow there and how do you live there if you are illegal and what is the...more
I loved this collection of personal stories about one of my favorite cities in the world, truly capturing all the beauty, ugliness, excitement, disillusionment, busyness, fun, daily grind, and history of London, and everything else in between. I particularly enjoyed the stories from the woman who is the voice of the underground (but who is the man who booms, "Mind the gap!"?), and the traders of New Spitalfields Markets. All the diverse voices took me back to places I've visited, and eager to re...more
More Hate than Love in this book. Very disappointing.
Pretty much what the title says; a panoramic view, a social snapshot of the ever-evolving city of London, for inhabitants from different ages, backgrounds, occupations. It started well until the first third when some stories sounded repetitive while others were purely bland, and quite lengthy as well. I found some of the stories informative and particularly enjoyed those stories with historic perspective or insights to unfamiliar professions.

Generally, a nice book for those interested in the soc...more
Great book! Slow read for me, but was very interesting! Loved hearing the different views of all the people he interviewed. Some of it made me nervous, because I plan on studying abroad in London, so some of the more negative views made me apprehensive. All the different interviews though make you realize that it's a huge city and that some parts are just like places in the US. One of the interviews that I found ironic was in Part III, there was a man that was a social engineer or something, but...more
It is hard to imagine this book would mean much to anyone who hasn’t spent at least some part of their lives in London. Its whole appeal is in the implicit invitation to compare your experience of the city with those of the people who Taylor has interviewed. Are you closer to the ones who love the place, or hate it? Can you remember the first time you hit the West End? Did it dazzle, or depress you?

What is striking is how much of these accounts are about arriving, surviving and leaving. Taylor s...more
This book was a HUGE disappointment for me. I was so looking forward to it, but the stories were just not at all entertaining - at least I felt like that for the majority of them. I am not quiet able to put my finger on it, but it must have been something with the reading, some of the stories just kept on and on - almost like a stream of conscience - making no sense what so ever! Whilst others were short and sweet or even some of the lengthy ones had purpose and flowed beautifully e.g. the grief...more
Dec 28, 2011 Veronica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who's lived in London
Recommended to Veronica by: a present from Nicola
Shelves: non-fiction
I lived in London for 5 years in the 1970s, thinking it the centre of the world. Fitzrovia, Camden, Walthamstow, Chiswick, Bethnal Green ... I'm not at all nostalgic and definitely wouldn't want to live there again. But I really enjoyed this book. The different voices brought back many memories and all of the multi-faceted experience of living in this large, chaotic city. I could empathise with the people who loathed London, and those who loved it.

Craig Taylor has done a remarkable job; presumab...more
I first decided to read this book many months ago when I saw the author give a reading from it at a Bookslam event in London, but I didn’t actually get around to buying it until I discovered it was finally out in paperback. (That sounds insufferable, I know, but now that I’m a reader of ebooks, hardbacks feel like such a commitment; also, they’re a real pain to read one-handed on a crowded tube train.) From time to time I’d also read and enjoyed the author's little plays published in the Guardia...more
Peter Matthews
londoners made me sad. I was born in Kent, just South of London but now engulfed by the London amoeba. my feelings were certainly affected by the concerns of the Surrey representative who rued the loss of the countryside and destruction of the suburban way of life. My impression of the series of vignettes was their alienation one way or another and their submission to the magnetism of this historic city. For years I commuted into the East End for my medical training, using the tube daily, and in...more
Nancy Kennedy
Craig Taylor's book is a collection of oral histories from about eighty people, both those living in London and those who have lived there at one time. The interviews are grouped loosely by topic -- Getting Around, Seeing the Sights, Earning One's Keep, etc. -- and vary in length. Some segments are brief, while others are quite lengthy. Some interviewees appear a few times -- for instance, an airline pilot flying into and out of the city and a street-wise character called Smartie.

The range of pe...more
This collection of interviews aims to paint an original picture of one of the world’s most enigmatic cities. Spanning squatters to bankers, north to south, Taylor’s five year odyssey allows readers glances into the windows of an array of the city’s lovers, acquaintances and pen-pals. Unfortunately, Taylor peaks with his poetic introduction, with exciting and surprising accounts (the voice of the tube and TFL lost property deserve a mention) too sparsely scattered. More importantly, despite well...more
This was a very enjoyable collection of stories about London by lots of interesting people who live, or used to live in London. Taylor did a really good job of talking with a very eclectic cast of characters and really let their voices come through in the stories. One consistent theme that emerged was just how difficult, hectic, expensive and stressful it can be living in such a densely populated, diverse, busy city -- yet the energy that everyone seems to feed off of seems to be addictive. Ther...more
My only complaint about this book is that it was a mere one volume. I want more! It's the best and most engaging oral-history anthology I can imagine. Interview subjects include the woman who is the voice of the London Underground (“mind the gap”), a yeoman warder who lives in the Tower of London (“just try ordering a pizza”), a city planner, a suburban commuter, a squatter, and many many others. It is a fantastic read and a fantastic read-aloud. I saw the author speak when it was first publishe...more
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“There's only one London. That's it. We are what we are.” 8 likes
“Live your life in any way, London says. It encourages defiance. I loved what it gave me, who it allowed me to be. On the nights I could afford a minicab home, I rolled down the window while crossing the river and watched the lights on the water, knowing most late-night minicabbers were reaffirming their love of London with the same view. I loved its messiness, its attempts at order. I loved the anonymity it afforded;” 4 likes
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