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City-Lit: London by Heather Reyes

City-Lit: London

Part of the City-Lit Series Series
Travel   Books of the Month   
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June 2009 Book of the Month.

Whether you are visiting or simply want to read interesting literature about one of the greatest cities in the world pick up a city-lit guide and be transported away. Let Will Self take you in to the mind of a London cabby or experience a shopping trip on Oxford Street with Virginia Woolf, Dostoyevsky takes a stroll down the Haymarket and Joseph Conrad takes a look at the Thames. See London as you have never seen it before with the help of some truly great writers.


City-Lit: London by Heather Reyes

London is the world's most happening, most exciting and most diverse city. From Roman stronghold and capital of the British Empire to financial powerhouse and city of the 2012 Olympics, London has always looked to the past and the future.

No one reflects this complexity better than London's writers, whether home-grown, adopted or simply visiting. city-lit London offers us the best ever writing on this amazing city with over sixty dazzling writers. Join them as

Will Self gets inside the head of a London cabby
Jan Morris flies in to Heathrow
Monica Ali smells the curry on Brick Lane
Alan Bennett gives us a ride in the Queen's carriage
Xiaolu Guo enjoys a greasy spoon café in Hackney
Helen Simpson takes us for a stroll on Hampstead Heath
Beryl Bainbridge attends Dr Johnson's funeral in
Westminster Abbey
Virginia Woolf goes shopping in Oxford Street
Dostoyevsky strolls down the Haymarket ...

Includes special introduction by Peter Watts, Big Smoke Editor of Time Out.


‘The second volume in this enticing new series includes extracts from the work of 60 wonderfully diverse writers, including Will Self, Monica Ali, Alan Bennett, Dostoyevsky, and yes, Barbara Cartland (writing about a West End ball) – Editor’s Pick, The Bookseller

'This treasure trove of a book consists of a diverse collection of literary excerpts that provide a unique way to explore the ever-changing landscape of the city, through the voices of those that know it intimately' - Rachel Lichtenstein, author of On Brick Lane

‘For those visitors to London who seek to do more than bag Big Ben and Buckingham Palace this is the ideal guide, a collection of writings that expose not only the city’s secret places but its very soul. The topography, culture and unquenchable spirit of this extraordinary city are brought sparklingly to life by some the finest writers imaginable, past and present, among whom I am proud to be included. I can’t imagine a more perfect travelling companion than this wonderful anthology.’ Clare Clark, author of The Great Stink

'Brings London to life past and present in a way no conventional guide book could ever achieve.' Tarquin Hall, author of Salaam Brick Lane

'An attractive-looking list of destination-based literature anthologies' - The Independent

About the Author

Heather Reyes

Heather Reyes is author of two novels, Zade and Miranda Road, and An Everywhere: a little book about reading - and its 'companion' gift book, Bookworms, Dog-ears, and Squashy Big Armchairs: a book-lover's alphabet, published this autumn. She has also published many short stories, along with essays and reviews of contemporary literature and Virginia Woolf. She has edited nine anthologies of writing about cities for the Oxygen Books' city-pick series - on Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Dublin, Venice, New York, St Petersburg and Istanbul. She's a dedicated lover of cities, jazz, classical music, art, photography, theatre ... and books.

Author photo © Derek Adams

Below is a Q & A with this author.

What led you to write Bookworms, Dog-ears, and Squashy big armchairs: a book-lover's alphabet?

Well, apart from the obvious reason of being a book-lover myself, I wanted to put together something that was fun but informative. My previous book on reading, An Everywhere: a little book about reading, while witty in parts, was basically a more serious book. There were lots of things I wanted to say about books and reading - particularly on 'bibliotherapy' - and I used some personal narratives and memories to hang those ideas on. It was written in the context of serious illness and the resultant period of chemotherapy, and woven throughout the book is the way that reading - in fact a life-time of reading - helped me to cope. Once An Everywhere was published, I wanted to carry on writing on the subject, but much more light-heartedly. I've been told it'll make a good gift book. I can't comment. I just enjoyed writing it.

It seems like a good book for book groups, with its suggestions for 'talking points' and activities. Do you - or have you ever - belonged to a book group?

No, I haven't. I visited some as an author when my novel Zade first came out, and I have a number of friends who belong to book groups. And I think they are wonderful developments in our national literary culture. But because I have so much reading to do for my work, I wouldn't be able to keep up with the reading for the group. I also have a rather 'particular' taste in books: I don't just like English fiction: I love books on history, biography, science, travel, and particularly fiction translated from other languages. But if there were forty-eight hours in a day, rather than twenty-four, I would probably join a book group.

Is your house very full of books?

Yes. It's an insuperable problem - especially as I find it virtually impossible to part with books. The occasional small bag goes to a charity shop, but what leaves the house doesn't keep pace with what comes into it! But I'm a book-lover. I can't help it.

How would you sum up The Book-lover's Alphabet?

I suppose it's a bit personal and idiosyncratic - as well as fun (I hope!). My opinions tend to come through in the way I write the information: for example, I'm passionate about libraries and the recent closure and ill-funding of our wonderful public libraries system makes me furious. This definitely comes through in some of the entries! But perhaps this helps to make it more than a bland book of information about booky things. But we'll have to wait for readers' responses ...

Anything else in the pipeline?

I have a novel coming out initially as an e-book early next year, called Perfectly Fine .... It's a kind of love story, but based on a woman turning fifty. And I'm working on a couple of quite different things, but we'll draw a veil over those for the moment.

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Book Info

Publication date

16th June 2009


Heather Reyes

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Oxygen Books


250 pages


Books of the Month

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