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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
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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

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,837 ratings  ·  451 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 ...more
Paperback, 422 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Granta Publications (first published November 15th 2011)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  3,837 ratings  ·  451 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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
John Stiles
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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
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
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
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 dont have to go far to see my wife: we live in the Tower. Weve got a village green, a doctor living beside us, and plenty of neighbors. But no one believes we actually live there. 'Whats it like?' 'Have you got electricity?' We hear ...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, ...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 ...more
Bailey Dutton
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Always Pink
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
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.
Nancy Kennedy
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cindy by: Elsie Wong
One of my favorite things to do is hear peoples stories; I quite enjoyed this collection and the sliver of London it contains. ...more
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
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  ·  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 Ive 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, Ive 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, dont skip the introduction. Craig Taylor completely sucks you in. The intimate
Daniel Villines
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
Elsa Gavriil
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
More Hate than Love in this book. Very disappointing.
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