92 books like Trivia, Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London

By John Gay,

Here are 92 books that Trivia, Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London fans have personally recommended if you like Trivia, Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Night Walks

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

Dickens wrote this essay, which is one of his very best pieces of non-fictional writing, at a period when he was undergoing something of a crisis, largely because of the breakdown of his marriage. It describes a walk he took at night through the streets of London, though in fact it is probably a composite of many nocturnal strolls he took in the late 1850s. Although the piece is sharpened with Dickens’s characteristic spirit of satire, it is remarkable for the sympathetic warmth with which it sketches those who, in contrast to Dickens himself, have no choice but to inhabit the city at night – the lost, the lonely, the homeless. Movingly, he finds a sense of community in these isolated individuals who live on the margins of society.

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Night Walks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charles Dickens describes in Night Walks his time as an insomniac, when he decided to cure himself by walking through London in the small hours, and discovered homelessness, drunkenness and vice on the streets. This collection of essays shows Dickens as one of the greatest visionaries of the city in all its variety and cruelty.

GREAT IDEAS. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them.…


Book cover of New York Nocturne: The City After Dark in Literature, Painting, and Photography, 1850-1950

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

This richly illustrated account of the century in which Manhattan was the preeminent metropolitan city at night is written by a scholar I admire enormously, who has become a friend since I first read this book. Sharpe has an encyclopedic knowledge of the art and literature of the modern city, and New York Nocturne is in consequence a treasure trove of cultural-historical information. But it is also beautifully written. It reads not only the paintings, photographs, poems, and novels about New York with sensitivity and insight, but the sometimes glamorous, sometimes painfully arduous lives of those who lived in it. 

By William Chapman Sharpe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New York Nocturne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As early as the 1850s, gaslight tempted New Yorkers out into a burgeoning nightlife filled with shopping, dining, and dancing. Electricity later turned the city at night into an even more stunning spectacle of brilliantly lit streets and glittering skyscrapers. The advent of artificial lighting revolutionized the urban night, creating not only new forms of life and leisure, but also new ways of perceiving the nocturnal experience. New York Nocturne is the first book to examine how the art of the gaslit and electrified city evolved, and how representations of nighttime New York expanded the boundaries of modern painting, literature,…


Book cover of New York: Confidential!

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

The cover is what I most love about this book, which I picked up in a second-hand bookshop. In my edition, “The Big City After Dark" is emblazoned in large yellow letters across the top. Beneath it, there’s a deliciously louche illustration of two people standing against the backdrop of Manhattan at night. One is a man in a trilby hat and a cheap brown suit. The other is a blonde woman in cinched black dress and pearls, twirling her pearl necklace and looking alluring. Both appear to know a thing or two about New York’s seediest hangouts. This is a gripping noir guidebook to the twentieth century’s most exciting nighttime city, written as if it’s pulp fiction. 

By Jack Lait, Lee Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vintage paperback


Book cover of The Last London: True Fictions from an Unreal City

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

Iain Sinclair is London’s finest London poet, even though he hasn’t published poetry for decades, and The Last London is his elegy to a lost London – a London that is being buried beneath the concrete, glass, and steel of private housing developments. As ever, Sinclair conducts his archaeological excursions into the city and its forgotten precincts by tramping its streets relentlessly – in this book, principally after dark. He records his observations and reconstructs his encounters with others in a hypnotic, poetic prose. Here is a city fading into the night because it is erasing its history… 

By Iain Sinclair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New Statesman Book of the Year

London. A city apart. Inimitable. Or so it once seemed.

Spiralling from the outer limits of the Overground to the pinnacle of the Shard, Iain Sinclair encounters a metropolis stretched beyond recognition. The vestiges of secret tunnels, the ghosts of saints and lost poets lie buried by developments, the cycling revolution and Brexit. An electrifying final odyssey, The Last London is an unforgettable vision of the Big Smoke before it disappears into the air of memory.


Book cover of Bedlam

Mark Stevens Author Of Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum

From my list on the history of English mental health.

Who am I?

I’m an archivist, really, masquerading as a writer. For my day job, I am in charge of archives from across England’s Royal County of Berkshire, spanning from the twelfth century to the present day. I have care of collections from Reading Gaol – of Oscar Wilde fame, the conservators of the River Thames, and also Broadmoor Hospital. The latter was built in 1863 as the first criminal lunatic asylum for England and Wales. It’s a place where true crime and social history interact. My book tries to paint a picture of individuals who did dreadful things but also had a life beyond their mental illness.

Mark's book list on the history of English mental health

Mark Stevens Why did Mark love this book?

Long before the Victorian asylums, there was Bethlem – London’s ancient hospital for lunatics. Like Broadmoor, Bethlem also looked after high-profile criminals, but within a private and charitable institution that was mostly for the capital’s waifs and strays. Bedlam gives you a sense of how mental health developed as a concept from the medieval period to the present day.

By Catharine Arnold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bedlam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Bedlam!' The very name conjures up graphic images of naked patients chained among filthy straw, or parading untended wards deluded that they are Napoleon or Jesus Christ. We owe this image of madness to William Hogarth, who, in plate eight of his 1735 Rake's Progress series, depicts the anti-hero in Bedlam, the latest addition to a freak show providing entertainment for Londoners between trips to the Tower Zoo, puppet shows and public executions.

That this is still the most powerful image of Bedlam, over two centuries later, says much about our attitude to mental illness, although the Bedlam of the…


Book cover of Life in London

Stephen Carver Author Of The Author Who Outsold Dickens: The Life and Works of W.H. Ainsworth

From my list on the 19th century they don’t teach you in school.

Who am I?

I’m a great one for alternative histories. I’m particularly fascinated by authors who were bestsellers in their own day but have been edited out of the official version of ‘English literature’. We constantly have Dickens, the Brontës, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and so forth fed back to us through reprinted novels, costume dramas, and lavish film adaptations, but there were other authors active at the time who commanded huge sales but whose work has now been largely forgotten or disregarded. These authors deserve attention, while their rediscovered work would freshen up the ongoing discourse of cultural retrieval. Seek them out, as I have, and I promise it’ll be worth it.

Stephen's book list on the 19th century they don’t teach you in school

Stephen Carver Why did Stephen love this book?

An exuberant serial novel by Regency sporting journalist Egan, illustrated by a young George Cruikshank (Dickens’ future artist). In it, three friends (based on the author, Cruikshank, and his younger brother Robert), document their ‘rambles and sprees through the metropolis’. It is a tale of dandies on safari written entirely in ‘flash’ slang, the language of the 19th-century underworld. The book was a publishing sensation, inspiring Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. I was introduced to this by my dear friend the late Professor Roger Sales many years ago, and it has been inspiring me ever since as a novelist and cultural historian. Egan’s style is bawdy and irreverent, until his voice was silenced by Victorian propriety a generation later. Can also be read as early social investigation.  

By Pierce Egan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life in London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pierce Egan (1772-1849) was born near London and lived in the area his whole life. He was a famous sports reporter and writer on popular culture. His first book, Boxiana, was a collection of articles about boxing. It was a huge success and established Egan's reputation for wit and sporting knowledge. He is probably best remembered today as the creator of Corinthian Tom and Jerry Hawthorn ('Tom and Jerry'). Published in 1821 and beautifully illustrated by the Cruikshank brothers, this book is the original collection of Tom and Jerry's riotous adventures through Regency London. Its satirical humour and trademark use…


Book cover of The Queen of the Tambourine

Alison Jean Lester Author Of Lillian on Life

From my list on keeping it real about older women.

Who am I?

Literary agents often say they are looking for books about ‘quirky’ female protagonists. I’m more entertained by female characters who feel real to me. When I write, I make myself uncomfortable a lot of the time, trying to express the many ways people both disguise and reveal the truth. I blame my devotion to my parents for this because when I left home in Massachusetts for college in the foreign land of Indiana, studied for a year in China, then studied in Italy, then worked in Taiwan, then moved to Japan, and later to Singapore, I wrote them copious descriptive, emotional letters. My parents are gone now, but in a way, I’m still doing that.

Alison's book list on keeping it real about older women

Alison Jean Lester Why did Alison love this book?

Misguided do-gooder Eliza Peabody lives in wealthy South London. In her middle age, Eliza is not just dedicated to volunteering in charities but also to volunteering her unsolicited advice to her neighbours in notes through their letterboxes. The book is consistently reviewed as both hilarious and poignant, but my memory of it above all includes one scene that was neither of those things. Instead, it seared me. The reveal crept up on cats’ paws, and I wasn’t at all prepared, which made the moment true for me, and unforgettable. If I read it when it came out in 1992, I would have been 26 years old. I must read it again now, at 56. No doubt I’ll remember the funny bits this time.

By Jane Gardam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen of the Tambourine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel of the Year: “Gardam’s portrait of an insanely imaginative woman in an elusive midlife crisis is impeccably drawn” (The Seattle Times).

With prose that is vibrant and witty, The Queen of the Tambourine traces the emotional breakdown—and eventual restoration—of Eliza Peabody, a smart and wildly imaginative woman who has become unbearably isolated in her prosperous London neighborhood. The letters Eliza writes to her neighbor, a woman whom she hardly knows, reveal her self-propelled descent into madness. Eliza must reach the depths of her downward spiral before she can once again find health…


Book cover of Antic Hay

Lesley Glaister Author Of Blasted Things

From my list on finding a new normal after World War I.

Who am I?

I am the prize-winning author of sixteen novels, most recently Little Egypt, The Squeeze, and Blasted Things. I teach creative writing at the University of St Andrews. I live in Edinburgh and am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. I’m a novelist and student of human nature. I love to work out what motivates people, how and why they make choices, their coping mechanisms, and how they act under pressure. Before I begin a novel set in the past, I read as much fiction written at the time as I can find, as well as autobiography and history. In this way, I attempt to truffle down into the actions and impulses of individuals, both performative and deeply interior, that characterise the spirit of the era that I’m writing.

Lesley's book list on finding a new normal after World War I

Lesley Glaister Why did Lesley love this book?

Set in London in the early 1920s, Huxley’s Antic Hay follows a cast of young bohemian and artistic characters, all affected in various ways by the Great War, as they search for SOMETHING to give meaning to their lives. London has changed, the world has changed, and they are lost. Cripplingly shy Theodore Gumbril, the main character, (inventor of Gumbril's Patent Small-Clothes, trousers which contain an inflatable cushion in the seat) searches for love, and meaning, in the shattered society following the end of the war. His search for love – including the donning of a false, confidence-boosting beard, makes for an absurd kind of comedy. Antic Hay is a savage satire, a switchback of emotions, swooping between humour and despair – though the slight plot does sometimes get rather side-lined by intellectual discussions and I admit to skipping the odd page. However, it gives an excellent flavour of the…

Book cover of The Way We Live Now

Jennifer Delamere Author Of Line by Line

From my list on unique insights on the Victorians.

Who am I?

I’m the sort of person who reads history books for fun. It’s perhaps odd to be a novelist who prefers nonfiction for my personal reading, but then again, I’ve managed to utilize those traits for writing 9 historical novels. The Victorian era has fascinated me since childhood. (The first play I ever saw was Oliver!, inspired by Dickens’ Oliver Twist. I still remember it vividly.) The Victorian era was a time of momentous change, becoming more like the world we know today and yet still within living memory of a very different way of life. The books I’ve chosen here reflect that time of upheaval and how, for better or worse, people dealt with it.

Jennifer's book list on unique insights on the Victorians

Jennifer Delamere Why did Jennifer love this book?

The book’s massive length is equivalent to about four modern novels, but it remains a fascinating read—even if I found few of the characters to be truly likable.

Like the Victorians themselves, Trollope’s writing style feels to me both old-fashioned and modern at the same time. To read this work today is to discover many similarities between their “now” (circa 1875) and ours.

Some things never change, including the chase for money and status, the societal traditions and prejudices that can be hard to overcome, and the ways lust and greed can upend just about any of our better human impulses.

I picked this novel for this list because it makes an interesting contrast to North and South, and not just because they deal with different levels of society (working class vs. “genteel”).

In Gaskell’s book, most of the characters are searching for moral high ground as they try to…

By Anthony Trollope,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way We Live Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Trollope did not write for posterity,' observed Henry James. 'He wrote for the day, the moment; but these are just the writers whom posterity is apt to put into its pocket.' Considered by contemporary critics to be Trollope's greatest novel, The Way We Live Now is a satire of the literary world of London in the 1870s and a bold indictment of the new power of speculative finance in English life. 'I was instigated by what I conceived to be the commercial profligacy of the age,' Trollope said.

His story concerns Augustus Melmotte, a French swindler and scoundrel, and his…


Book cover of The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Tom Keymer Author Of Jane Austen: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on stories written before 1800.

Who am I?

I’ve been researching and teaching the history of the novel since I was a graduate student in Cambridge in the late 1980s, and along the way, I’ve published trade editions of several classics beyond those recommended here, including Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Richardson’s Pamela, Fielding’s Tom Jones, and Beckford’s Vathek. It’s a great opportunity to take a break from specialist academia and reach a broader community of readers, as I’ve also tried to do in a recent introductory book about Jane Austen. I now teach at the University of Toronto, where I’m blessed with amazing students on two of my favourite undergraduate courses, “The Rise of the Novel” and “Austen and Her Contemporaries.”

Tom's book list on stories written before 1800

Tom Keymer Why did Tom love this book?

Tobias Smollett, Scotland’s greatest novelist before Scott and Stevenson, was dying in a villa on the Ligurian coast when his masterpiece Humphry Clinker came out in London in 1771. Yet every page is written with astounding verve, immersing readers in the vibrant chaos of eighteenth-century Britain, the sights and sounds of its teeming cities and health resorts—even, in several virtuoso passages of gross-out description, its nauseating smells and tastes. Like Richardson before him, Smollett gives his narrative over to multiple voices, this time to riotously comic effect. Five Anglo-Welsh tourists (splenetic Bramble, scathing Tabitha, witty Jery, romantic Lydia, their hilariously unpredictable servant Win) travel the length and breadth of a nation in the throes of urbanization and commercial modernity, by turns disgusted and enchanted, constantly failing to agree on what they see. Illicit romances play out in the background, but Smollett’s main interest is in the turbulent dynamism of four-nations…

By Tobias Smollett, Paul-Gabriel Boucé (editor), Lewis M. Knapp (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Expedition of Humphry Clinker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Thackeray called it "the most laughable story that has ever been written since the goodly art of novel-writing began." As a group of travellers visit places in England and Scotland, they provide through satire and wit a vivid and detailed picture of the contemporary social and political scene.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to…


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