Review: A History of London in 100 Places

My best friend Nicole always tells me that I am a master book recommender. I love reading and anyone who thrives off of the words of others like myself has read some amazing books…and then they’ve read some not so amazing ones. There’s nothing more disheartening then picking up a book expecting great things only to be tragically let done…sounds a bit like relationships, right? Well, any reader extraordinaire will tell you that reading a book is like making a new acquaintance or even stepping into a new life of your own. In any form of entertainment, there is a willing suspension of disbelief–it’s when you know what you’re seeing on the TV or big screen or reading from a book or e-reader is not real, but you let your imagination indulge in it anyway. We let ourselves become a part of the stories in a variety of ways from emotional investment to feeling like we are actually part of the story. That’s why we have fan fiction, book clubs, theme parks and crazed fans. As the audience of many stories, we will do anything to become more deeply embedded into a story.

By trial and error you find the good books and the bad books. You find what you like and don’t like in a book or genre. You also find what genres you like and don’t like.  You find the stories into which you are willing take that leap of faith. However, for those who don’t read that often or simply want to expand their reading palette, I always try to save those individuals the trouble, time and possibly money involved in this trial and error process of picking up a book that is sub-par or just straight up awful if we’re being honest.

This willing suspension of disbelief can be obtained in any genre in both the fiction and non-fiction realms. In general, people long to become a part of the stories of people, places, ideas, movements and times in history regardless of the truth behind it…and recently, I’ve taken a vested interest in non-fiction worlds.

One of the things I like to do when I go to new places is buy a book about it or that has something to do with it. I don’t always end up getting a book about the town, state or country I’m visiting, but I usually come away with a book regardless. Like I said in my last post, I brought seven books back from Europe. Is it a little over the top? Ehhhhh….maybe. Maybe not. You can decide for yourself, but one of the books I got is called A History of London in 100 Places by David Long.

A History of London in 100 Places

Since I’ve been to London now, I’ve allowed myself to indulge into the captivating and dark stories of this amazing city’s history. This find came from the British Museum and it only took me deeper into the annals of London. The title is self-explanatory: it’s about a 200 page book with one to two page synopses of historically significant landmarks in London. The book takes the reader two thousand years into the past to when it was a Roman town called Londinium all the way up to present day London. From this book, the reader almost gets the experience of a time lapse in word form as Long explains how each site shaped the landscape of London.

Overall, I loved the concept of this book! Long didn’t talk about the typical sites tourists would see when they go to London. When I first started reading A History of London, I expected there to be a lot about places like Elizabeth’s Tower (Big Ben), but that wasn’t the case. Long did mention these iconic locations, but most of the places he wrote about the average person has never heard of. From the historical perspective, I got more than I bargained for, but this book also came with some let downs. Most of these sites you almost can’t even see or visit. Since most of these places can’t be visited today (at least not easily), it was hard for me as a reader to wrap my mind around what Long was trying to say and it quiet honestly sucked some of the fun out of reading it. Though he did provide a map at the beginning showing the reader where these places where, I would have also liked more visual aids (a.k.a. pictures because who doesn’t like a good picture book).

Since I’m not a native Londoner, this book was a little bit difficult to grasp; however, I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested in London history. It’s a great place to start if you just want to know more about this great metropolitan city in general. Also, it’s a great substance read like most things non-fiction are.

If you want to buy A History of London in 100 Places you can go to Amazon or you can stop by the British Museum and pick up your copy while also seeing mummies, the Rosetta Stone and a ton of other super cool artifacts!

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