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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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  4,182 ratings  ·  479 reviews
In Londoners, acclaimed journalist Craig Taylor paints readers an epic portrait of today’s London that is as rich and lively as the city itself. In the style of Studs Terkel (Working, Hard Times, The Good War) and Dave Isay (Listening Is an Act of Love), Londoners offers up  the stories, the gripes, the memories, and the dreams of those in the great and vibrant British met ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Ecco (first published November 15th 2011)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  4,182 ratings  ·  479 reviews

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Start your review of 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
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: twenty12
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
Frank Callaghan
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
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
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Oh, I absolutely loved it! It's got stories about every single corner and people in London, and it truly gives you a wonderful insight into the city. And not only about the good things, but also about the bad ones. And for me, after spending a year of my life living in London, I can relate to many stories, and I just kept nodding every time. This was so close to my heart. I need more books like it. ...more
Harry Rutherford
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nancy Kennedy
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn’t sure about this at first - it read like an optimistic Canadian coming to London with great expectations from what he’s seen in movies. Then, he described a scenario where he went to use a telephone box in Brixton, opened the door to find someone doing crack and they both apologised (‘Sorry!’ ‘Sorry!’ ‘Sorry!’).

Overall, this was really really great. I love the variety of stories and the contrast too (eg. the anti-immigrant comments next to people that work with migrants to hou
May 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed a lot of the book... it’s full of different stories written/told by the person (not the author) and while some stories are really interesting to read & well told, others that are much less so & it’s frustrating. It’s probably best for people who are happy to skip through, with is what I might do again down the track. The author himself is a great writer & I thought it might have been better had he written the book in a narrative style, adding bits of speech from the people he interview ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Stacey (prettybooks)
I knew I'd love Londoners as soon as I read the introduction, written by the author - a Canadian who moved to London - telling the reader about his first time in London and what he experienced. And then the prologue, 'Former Londoner', written by someone who has nothing but negative, bitter things to say about the city. I thought it was hilarious ('There's too many people fighting for space on the Tube, everyone's in a rush, everyone's in a bad mood'). Londoners like to complain about London, an ...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
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Always Pink
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oh-so-british
I came across a stack of this book at Foyles in London, in a special shelf labelled "staff recommendations". (Thank you for this!) I have learned to blindly trust these little stacks of books, cover fronts presented: The booksellers at Foyles still know a good book when they read one.
Trying to find the essence of London, to describe what makes it the splendid place it is, that's an onerous task indeed. Craig Taylor took it on head on, and spoke with countless Londoners and asked what the city wa
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to cindy by: Elsie Wong
Shelves: non-fiction
One of my favorite things to do is hear people’s stories; I quite enjoyed this collection and the sliver of London it contains.
R.J. Askew
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Daniel Villines
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it
At its core, Londoners is a study in the human condition as it exists in any overwhelming city anywhere in the world. The book provides accounts of people struggling to find their individuality in the midst of countless others who are struggling in the same way. Sometimes luck crosses their paths, but often times they achieve small successes through the diminishing of others.

Trying to discern particular characteristics of Londoners that are different or unique, however, is problematic. The effor
Elsa Gavriil
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
Rating: 3.5

The book tries its best to answer the following question: What defines a Londoner? Is a Londoner someone who was born in London? Is it someone who moved there 20 years ago? 10 years ago? 5 years ago? Or is a Londoner someone who knows how the city works, how it breathes. Someone that can navigate the tube and not get run over while crossing the street.

Composed by 85 (give or take) stories about Londoners, it was just what I needed after finding myself afflicted with London sickness. T
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the Week:
By Craig Taylor. Abridged by Pete Nichols.

Craig Taylor's book has given new voice to Londoners; the rich and the poor, the native and the immigrant; men and women. It continues an oral tradition that goes back to Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, published in the mid-nineteenth century.

Taylor gives us the squatter and the teacher; the bicycle mechanic and the registrar; the plumber and the rickshaw rider; the lost property clerk and the Wiccan
Oct 06, 2011 added it
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
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Megan Huggins
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having just recently visited London, reading this book was like getting to the know the city better. I loved the balance in the editing, as Taylor pulled stories from all perspectives, opinions, and kinds of people. One interview would discuss a particular opinion, and the very next would be exploring the opposite reaction. The people who got multiple interview slots, like Smartie the "Londoner" and the pilot opening and closing the book, were perfect to revisit, and captured the fleeting essenc ...more
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This really should be a 3.5 star but I don't have that option. I love the concept of this book. The short stories that showcase the little pockets of such a iconic city. The first half flew by and then for one reason or another, I got less motivated to continue. I'd pick it up and read a bit but then leave it for a few weeks. I guess the themes in the later half of the book were less intriguing to me. The first half is definitely 4 star material. I liked how varied the subject matter was everyth ...more
I really really loved this and didn't expect to. There were just so many different things that people talked about or said that I know after I move back home and no longer live in London I'm going to miss, but it's still going to feel like inside jokes to me.

You don't really know a city until you live there (obviously), but you don't know London until you love it, hate it, and become this weird part of it.
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