The most recommended books about Leeds (United Kingdom)

Who picked these books? Meet our 6 experts.

6 authors created a book list connected to Leeds, and here are their favorite Leeds books.
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Book cover of Right to Kill: A gripping Yorkshire murder mystery for 2022 (DS Joe Romano crime thriller series book 1)

Russ Thomas Author Of Nighthawking

From my list on crime novels set in the grim North of England.

Who am I?

There’s a saying in England: It’s grim up north! Largely used pejoratively (by the south), it’s true to say it is generally colder and wetter, the landscape more unforgiving, the people – friendlier in my opinion – are more outspoken and candid. The cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, with their declining industries and rising unemployment, provide fertile ground for crime writers. So when I started my own series following the investigations of DS Adam Tyler and his cold case team it didn’t take long to settle on my adopted home of Sheffield as the setting. Be warned: we’re a long way from the sleepy villages of Agatha Christie here.

Russ' book list on crime novels set in the grim North of England

Russ Thomas Why did Russ love this book?

When a local drug dealer goes missing in the small town of Wortley, West Leeds, no one cares. No one except Detective Sergeant Joe Romano, back on home turf in ‘God’s Own County’ of Yorkshire. And even when the drug dealer turns up dead some believe it poetic justice. Romano believes every life counts though, and with the killer about to strike again he puts everything on the line, including his career, to prove that no one has the right to kill. This is a very modern take on the classic police procedural novel, a world-weary cop fighting against the world-weary system in order to do the right thing. 

By John Barlow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first in a gripping new crime thriller series set in Yorkshire, for fans of Ian Rankin and Joseph Knox. 'A striking debut' Peter Robinson

On a Thursday night in February, DS Joe Romano finds himself back on home turf in Wortley, West Leeds. He's following up on the disappearance of drug dealer Craig Shaw.

It's the start of a case that could make or break Romano's career. Because Shaw is about to go from missing to murdered.

While some don't think Shaw's killer should be brought to justice, Romano believes every life counts. But he's running out of time.…


Book cover of Layla

Judy Prescott Marshall Author Of Still Crazy

From my list on later in life romance.

Who am I?

I’m an avid reader. I still love to hold them in my hands. Not long ago I went dumpster diving for an entire set of encyclopedias. To say I love books is an understatement. Books have always been my passion, destination, and my closest friend.

Judy's book list on later in life romance

Judy Prescott Marshall Why did Judy love this book?

Sometimes, love is not all it takes to help the ones you love. Sometimes, love pulls you in different directions. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers with twists, turns, and ultimately engrossing, uncomfortable, and an unpredictable storyline full of paranormal romance. Then I recommend reading Layla. Not my normal genre, but I will say this the writer had me turning pages and I had to read to the end.

By Colleen Hoover,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Layla as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he's convinced he'll spend the rest of his life with her-until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they…


Book cover of City Lights: A Street Life

Chris Nickson Author Of Brass Lives

From my list on Leeds as it was.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Leeds and moved back here in 2013. My ancestors first came here a couple of hundred years ago. The place is my passion, but it’s also in my DNA. I write historical crime novels, many of them set in Leeds between 1730 and 1957. I know this place through the soles of my feet. My work means constantly researching its history, trying to understand this city, how it shifts and changes, and the people who call it home. The longer I continue, the greater my fascination, and the deeper I dive to keep learning more. These books all beat with the heart of Leeds.

Chris' book list on Leeds as it was

Chris Nickson Why did Chris love this book?

Waterhouse was famous as a journalist, dramatist, and novelist. But this memoir of growing up in Leeds from the 1930s-50s brings the place and time completely alive. He didn’t have a privileged upbringing, by any means, and Waterhouse captures the day-to-day of poor areas and estates, and well as the magic of the city centre. The novel Billy Liar brought him fame, and while the location was unnamed, it was the Leeds he’d known, right down to the funeral home where he worked after leaving school. Waterhouse innately understood Leeds and its people, and they jump off the page – even if he leaves at the end (something Billy Liar could never bring himself to do). Read this and you’ll carry a magnificent picture of the city in your head.

By Keith Waterhouse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Keith Waterhouse was born in a world that has now vanished - a soot-blackened, tramcar-rattling provincial city. It happened to be Leeds. Waterhouse was a true city-boy, deeply mistrustful of grass and trees. In early childhood, he would roam the covered markets, the carillon-chiming arcades. As a youth he came to know the cinemas and the theatres. Then, as a junior reporter, he trod the tiled corridors of civic power. Moving "down south", his first impression of London was the sign in Piccadilly Circus; picked out in electric light bulbs, it was a heart-warming replica of the Bovril sign in…


Book cover of A Local Habitation (Life And Times, Volume 1: 1918-1940)

Chris Nickson Author Of Brass Lives

From my list on Leeds as it was.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Leeds and moved back here in 2013. My ancestors first came here a couple of hundred years ago. The place is my passion, but it’s also in my DNA. I write historical crime novels, many of them set in Leeds between 1730 and 1957. I know this place through the soles of my feet. My work means constantly researching its history, trying to understand this city, how it shifts and changes, and the people who call it home. The longer I continue, the greater my fascination, and the deeper I dive to keep learning more. These books all beat with the heart of Leeds.

Chris' book list on Leeds as it was

Chris Nickson Why did Chris love this book?

Another memoir, but very different to Waterhouse. An academic, Hoggart had already drawn on his Leeds childhood for the seminal text, The Uses of Literacy. This expands on that, fleshing out the bones of the other work. It paints a broader picture of Leeds, overlapping a decade with City Lights. Hoggart has a prodigious memory, and while he can tend to paint the poor, working-class past with rosy colours sometimes, he certainly does evoke a time, seeing the events of the days through a child’s – and adolescent’s – eyes. He made good, going on to university, and getting a grant to travel abroad, but for those times he was a true exception. Between this and City Lights, there’s a full picture of early 20th century Leeds.

By Richard Hoggart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Local Habitation (Life And Times, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A Local Habitation" is the first volume of Hoggart's autobiography, describing his childhood in a working class milieu in Leeds, his time at grammar school, his student days at Leeds University and his travels through Nazi Germany before World War Two. Richard Hoggart taught for many years at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University and he worked with UNESCO in Paris for four years. His book "The Uses of Literacy", published over 30 years ago, established his reputation as a sensitive and well informed observer of English working class life. His most recent book, written with Douglas…


Book cover of To Prove I’m Not Forgot: Living And Dying In A Victorian City

Chris Nickson Author Of Brass Lives

From my list on Leeds as it was.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Leeds and moved back here in 2013. My ancestors first came here a couple of hundred years ago. The place is my passion, but it’s also in my DNA. I write historical crime novels, many of them set in Leeds between 1730 and 1957. I know this place through the soles of my feet. My work means constantly researching its history, trying to understand this city, how it shifts and changes, and the people who call it home. The longer I continue, the greater my fascination, and the deeper I dive to keep learning more. These books all beat with the heart of Leeds.

Chris' book list on Leeds as it was

Chris Nickson Why did Chris love this book?

This tells the story, not just of Beckett Street Cemetery, supposedly the oldest municipal cemetery in the UK, but more important of those buried there, both rich and poor (and there are plenty of both). It sits across the road from what was once Leeds Workhouse, and has its share of former inmates from there in unmarked graves. Poignantly, there’s are also many guinea graves, where several are buried on top of each other, names listed on a headstone, all for a guinea (just over a pound). In its tales, this becomes a 19th-century social history of Leeds – there’s even a survivor of the Battle of Waterloo buried there. Not a widely-known book, but it has a wonderful, quiet importance. I have relatives in unmarked, guinea, and regular graves.

By Sylvia M. Barnard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Prove I’m Not Forgot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the growth of English cities during the Industrial Revolution came a booming population too vast for churchyards. Beckett Street Cemetery in Leeds was to become the first municipal cemetery in the country. This study relates how the cemetery was started and run, and describes the developing feuds between denominations. The author draws upon newspaper articles, archive material and municipal records to tell the stories of many of the people who lie there, from tiny infants, soldiers and victims of crime to those who perished in the great epidemics of Victorian England. The study throws new light on the occupations…


Book cover of Images of Leeds 1850-1960

Chris Nickson Author Of Brass Lives

From my list on Leeds as it was.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Leeds and moved back here in 2013. My ancestors first came here a couple of hundred years ago. The place is my passion, but it’s also in my DNA. I write historical crime novels, many of them set in Leeds between 1730 and 1957. I know this place through the soles of my feet. My work means constantly researching its history, trying to understand this city, how it shifts and changes, and the people who call it home. The longer I continue, the greater my fascination, and the deeper I dive to keep learning more. These books all beat with the heart of Leeds.

Chris' book list on Leeds as it was

Chris Nickson Why did Chris love this book?

Another book of photos? Yes, because these, spanning 110 years, capture the changing face of Leeds. So many of the places in these images have gone, just like the faces caught by the camera. Most of the yards and courts, the ginnels that made up the fabric of old Leeds. If Riboud acutely observed the city in 1954, this book illustrates how it reached that point. One image, a view of part of Lower Briggate in the early 1860s, might easily have come from a century earlier, with the low, bowed, battered roofs of the buildings. Another, of slums about to be demolished forms a dark juxtaposition to the bright new council houses of the 1920s as they await tenants. It’s social history for the eyes.

Book cover of A Lasting Moment: Marc Riboud Photographs Leeds 1954 and 2004

Chris Nickson Author Of Brass Lives

From my list on Leeds as it was.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Leeds and moved back here in 2013. My ancestors first came here a couple of hundred years ago. The place is my passion, but it’s also in my DNA. I write historical crime novels, many of them set in Leeds between 1730 and 1957. I know this place through the soles of my feet. My work means constantly researching its history, trying to understand this city, how it shifts and changes, and the people who call it home. The longer I continue, the greater my fascination, and the deeper I dive to keep learning more. These books all beat with the heart of Leeds.

Chris' book list on Leeds as it was

Chris Nickson Why did Chris love this book?

Riboud was already famous when he first arrived in Leeds to document the city in 1954. What his black and white images startlingly portray, though, is a place that could easily still be in the 19th century. He doesn’t go for the great and the good, but searches out ordinary people and children playing in the streets. It’s life among emotional and physical rubble, a contrast to the shiny, bright colours 50 years later (and now also a part of history as time speeds by). It’s searing, starkly beautiful, and the essay by Leeds-born playwright Caryl Phillips adds another dimension. Through the right eye, an image can be worth a thousand words in seeking the soul of a town and its people.

By Marc Riboud,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of There Was a Time: James Brown, the Chitlin' Circuit, and Me

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns

From my list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.

Who am I?

I grew up with the music of the 1960s. Going to packed, pheromone-heavy dances featuring The Lincolns—Nova Scotia’s most popular and most soulful band—were a huge part of my teenage years. Those experiences implanted a deep love of R&B, and somehow or other pointed me in the direction of becoming a writer. It’s a bit of a mystery how it all works. In any case, of all my books, none was as much fun to work on as Kings of Friday Night. It has received lots of love, including from readers who grew up far from the time and place I write about. Long live local bands! And live music everywhere!

A.J.B.'s book list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

Alan Leeds does a wonderful job presenting his eyewitness experiences as part of the James Brown entourage in the 1960s and beyond. The reader can’t wait to find out what happens next in the riveting story he presents of Soul Brother No. 1, the “hardest working man in show business.” It’s a fascinating tale, which presents Brown as an innovative musical force, determined artist, forceful businessman, and unpredictable personality. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Chitlin’ Circuit when soul music was taking off as a dynamic new genre—as recalled by a young, Jewish kid from Queens who joined James Brown’s team and learned the music business at the hand of the performer who mastered it.

By Alan Leeds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked There Was a Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As seen in the Wall Street Journal!

“Alan Leeds was a protegé of James Brown and a true historian of the world that nurtured the great entertainer. Alan was a witness to the vibrant black music scene of the ’60s and ’70s—whose book is both a memoir and a document of a lost world of sound.”—Nelson George, an American author, columnist, music and culture critic, journalist, and filmmaker

A behind-the-scenes look at the Chitlin’ Circuit during American’s most vital period of soul music—from the eyes and ears of a young, Jewish kid from Queens who joined the team of the…