LIGHTS OUT FOR THE TERRITORY by Iain Sinclair (1998)
The guvna. Maestro. Top dog of London writing, much imitated but never bettered. Lights Out was my gateway drug; I’ve never looked at the city in the same way since.
THE GRASSLING by Elizabeth–Jane Burnett (2019)
A ‘geological memoir’ of growing up in rural Devon by a poet of English and Kenyan heritage. An intricate, strange and quietly moving portrayal of family and land.
SCARP by Nick Papadimitriou (2012)
Deep topographer Papadimitriou obsessively walks the landscape around his home on the outskirts of north-west London, tapping the history and atmosphere of the north Middlesex/ south Hertfordshire escarpment from which this engagingly off-kilter book takes its name.
THE LANDSCAPE OF PLACE-NAMES by Margaret Gelling (1984)
My bible. It does what it says on the tin.
ORDINARY PEOPLE by Diana Evans (2018)
Evans tells the story of two Black British couples in their late 30s whose lives are beginning to unravel. Beautifully written and observed.
LONDON'S LOST RIVERS by Tom Bolton (2011)
A vital guide for anyone who has ever wondered how Fleet Street got its name or why you can hear the sound of running water in Sloane Square tube station.
PLACE by Allen Fisher (2005)
This landmark piece of London writing - originally composed during the 1970s - splices together history, geography, etymology and documentary reportage in a style influenced by Charles Olson’s ‘open field’ poetics. Once you are attuned to its methods, it’s pure magic.
HOLLOW PLACES by Christopher Hadley (2019)
The subject of this strikingly unusual book is a tombstone in a 14th-century Hertfordshire church that depicts the slaying of a local dragon. What in another’s hands would be painfully repetitious is, here, masterfully done.