We did not want to keep you inside with another post about incredible films (although don’t worry, another one will arrive soon!), given the rare sunny weather outside! Therefore, here is a compilation of lists with parks you can visit in London, and books you should read while you’re there! This time we’ve prepared a mixture of contemporary and classics – yes, Jane Austen and John Greene will be found in the same list, we know…
*the numbers in the lists are randomly assigned. Apart from Clapham Common – it’s number one because we love it 🙂
From comedies to hopeless romance, to a spectacular take on Shakespearean comedies, here is our complied list of books for all of you to experiment with! The first five books on the list are for those who crave a classic piece of literature and the last five are for fans of more contemporary material!
- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates – the unsettling story of Frank and April Wheeler, trying to find their way in the American suburbs of the 50’s, is one of hope, change and adapting. Described by Kurt Vonnegut as one of the ‘greatest fiction writers of his time,’ Yates’s writing will transport you with his descriptions, move you with his narrative and surprise you with his twists. If you’ve seen the movie with Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio and hated it, give the book a try – it will stay with you for far longer after turning its final page.
- Wise Children by Angela Carter – The last novel of one of the most imaginative and magical female writers of the 20th century, Wise Children is a read recommended to all. Narrated by Dora Chance, and presenting the story of her bizarre and intricate family, this book will make you laugh with life’s absurdities and cry with its occasional mishaps. Following the pattern of a Shakespearean comedy of errors, Angela Carter writes the experiences of two families, the Hazards and the Chances, in the most exciting and bewildering way possible. And because in the end, it’s a true “joy, to dance and sing,” Wise Children is a book everyone should read!
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll – If you are ready to go down the rabbit hole and get lost in a world of wonders and impossibilities, then Alice in Wonderland is the book for you. Follow Alice’s magical journey to the land of marvels, have some tea with a Mad Hatter and a Hare, try to capture time with the White Rabbit and paint the roses red in the Queen of Heart’s court. A story written in 1865 and including the original illustrations made by Lewis Caroll himself, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a timeless book to enjoy.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – for all the blossoming ladies out there, looking for their Mr. Darcy this spring, Pride and Prejudice is the must read! Immerse yourself in the society and nobility of 19th century England, learn the consequences of making hasty judgements and fall in love with Mr. Darcy all over again. Through the story of young Elizabeth Bennet and her challenging relationship with Fitzwilliam Darcy you will travel to Pemberley and attend beautiful balls. Becoming one of the most popular novels in English Literature, Pride and Prejudice is a lovely book that also has a must-watch TV series starring the charming Colin Firth and a cinematic adaptation with the one and only Keira Knightley.
- Bernice Bobs Her Hair by F. Scott Fitzgerald – A story about the traps of upper social class and vanity, Bernice Bobs Her Hair is a short narrative about the life and experiences of young Bernice upon visiting her cousin Marjorie in the City. Loosely based on Fitzgerald’s experience with his younger sister Annabel and the advice he had given her to boost her standing on the social ladder, this short story about deceit, futility and self-indulgence will surely keep you entranced. And while Bernice is a victim of her own vanity, she is such an interesting character that you cannot help but sympathise with her. Part of the classic collection of short stories ‘Flappers and Philosophers’ Bernice Bobs Her Hair is a compelling and quick read for a perfect Spring day!
- The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett – Lose yourselves in the romance of Eva and Jim, from the time they meet in university as eighteen year old students to the very end when they are eighty. If reading one love story at a time is not enough for you, in The Versions of Us you will experience three alternative scenarios of how the life of Eva and Jim could, would and might have turned out. And just when you get attached to one version of their lives, another one goes wrong! This story of multiple sequences of events and overlapping plots will make you cry and laugh at the unexpected turn of events in life!
- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – Cut John Green some slack, he’s ‘Okay’. More than that, An Abundance of Katherines is a light read about a hopeless romantic with a great affinity for Maths! As evident from his name, Colin Singleton, the single boy longs to find true love but also has a crazy idea that love’s durability can be measured by a (hopefully) exponential curve graph. See what you think about his theory!
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – “You see things. You keep quiet about them, and you understand. You’re a wallflower.” For all the wallflowers and the unique people out there, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the perfect book for you. The story of young Charlie, struggling with High School and a difficult past, is one of compassion, uncertainty and the power of friendship. Controversial for the topics it tackles, from mental challenges, to abandonment and acceptance, Chbosky’s novel will keep you invested from beginning to end. And we know we promised, but you might as well watch the incredible film adaption, starring Ezra Miller, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman.
- One Day by David Nichols – Few love stories have the power to move and startle their readers as much as David Nichols’s One Day. The story of young Emma and Dexter starts the day of their graduation from University of Edinburgh. To mark the beginning of their friendship on the 15th of June, St. Swithin’s Day, they promise to meet, if only for once, every year at the same day. From then on, every chapter finds them at a different point in their lives and always on June 15th. Travel to a world of romance, life’s hardships and the inevitability of falling in love through the incredible yet sad story of two people trying to balance the boundaries of friendship. Beware: a pack of tissues might be required towards the end of the book. And because we cannot seem to resist it, the movie “One Day” starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess is also a pretty good one (we can all see past through Hathaway’s not so promising British accent…)
- The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – For everyone wondering what being married to Ernest Hemingway must have felt like (we all suspect it must have been tough…) or crave to learn what being a part of the ’20s life in Paris was like, Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife is your book. Mingling fiction with biographical details, this novel tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, and their life in the beginning of his career. Live through Hadley’s eyes the craze of Paris Left Bank society and the difficulties of being married to one of the most talented male writers’ of the 20th century. After that you can freely see ‘Hemingway and Gellhorn’ and find out what happened after he left Hadley!
Parks (we suggest you change the park with every second book you finish):
- Clapham Common – If you fancy a trip to Clapham,this park is for you! Located in between Clapham Common and Clapham South Stations, the Common has flowers, ponds and ducks – what more can you ask for? Oh, yes! There are benches looking at the ponds, where you can comfortably sit and enjoy a good book! Or just take a walk, take it easy this Spring!
- Hyde Park – Although the gardens there are huge, in case you’re not a fan of the grass, Hyde Park offers free chairs! Comfort has never been more accessible, so take advantage when the first beams of sun make their way through the clouds and go have some fun reading outside! London’s famous Hyde Park is easy to find with its key location near Hyde Park Corner Station and Marylebone.
- Kyoto Gardens in Kensington – For those looking for something both beautiful and convenient, Kyoto’s got you covered! Among the blossoming trees and bushes, there are pathways and benches where you can enjoy some of our lovely book suggestions! Take the tube to High Street Kensington Station and get lost in this Japanese utopia!
- Lincoln In Fields – Located almost in the heart of London and only a couple of minutes away from the British Museum and Covent Garden, Lincoln Inn Fields is one of the most surprisingly beautiful parks to visit. It’s central but also quiet which will help you to focus on a good book with a cup of good coffee/tea. If you are a tennis player, you can take a break from reading and have a match in this nice park!
- Middle Temple Gardens – A hidden Paradise, the Middle Temple offers limited amount of benches due to its smaller gardens but its secrecy saves people from crowds despite its central location. Head there for a quick break from the business of Central London and don’t tell anyone about it!
London’ weather is unpredictable, so surprise! Here is our extra list of 5 coffee places you could hide in case it starts raining!
- Free Press on Fleet Street – a small coffee shop on one of the most beautiful streets in London, Free Press Cafe will surely provide you a perfect shelter during a rainy day. Only minutes away from Temple station and, for all King’s College London students out there, a breath away from Maughan library, Free Press provides extraordinary coffee, amazing cakes and a cosy environment to study, read or simply enjoy a cup of tea. And if there is not enough space inside, there is always a wooden bench on the pavement that overlooks the arresting building of the Royal Courts of Justice. Do not forget to check the blackboard on the entrance! It always provides the customers and passers by with a witty or funny remark to go with their coffee.
- Foyles Cafe in Foyles, Charing Cross Road – only minutes away from Tottenham Court Road Station and a walking distance from both Trafalgar Square and Soho, Foyles Bookstore on Charing Cross Road is truly a gem in the heart of London. In an atmosphere of books, joy and art you will get a chance to taste great tea, delicious carrot cake and home cooked lunch. Enjoy the low-key jazz tunes with a glass of fresh juice, meet new people or just browse the gallery adjacent to the coffee shop. And while you’re there, why not take a peek at all the new books on the first four floors of the store!
- Ziferblat in Shoredich – As their web page puts it, ‘Everything is free inside; Except for the time you spend’. Ziferblat is the perfect place for chilling, doing work or simply enjoying one of our must-read suggestions this Spring! Take a break from reading and enjoy the huge variety of tea and snacks (and board games!) Ziferblat offers to its customers. It’s hipster and hip, and you can visit it even when you are traveling. There are Ziferblat work spaces in Liverpool, Manchester and numerous other locations across Europe!
- 5th View Bar & Food in Waterstones, Piccadilly Circus – In the heart of Piccadilly Circus and reachable from either Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Station, Waterstones provides more than a vast variety of books to read. On the 5th floor of one of the biggest bookstores in London, you will find 5th View Bar & Food. A fancy yet affordable restaurant/coffee shop, 5th View offers great coffee and a peaceful environment to read or simply have a conversation with friends. Enjoy the many events organised there by the bookstore and if tired of reading, take a stroll down the busy and bustling Piccadilly Circus.
- Starbucks, Costa, Nero – We did not want to leave outside the most widespread commercial yet leading coffee shops out there! Acclaimed for their varied selection of warm and cold drinks and renowned for their loyalty schemes, any Starbucks, Costa or Nero will welcome you with its familiar atmosphere. Not only are they literally everywhere, but you can also simply pop inside and grab a coffee or snack to enjoy in one of our suggested Parks (reading one of our suggested books!) Since we are based in Strand, our personal favourites include Nero near Holborn Station, Starbucks on Kingsway and Costa at Trafalgar Square.