Cautiously Excited

That sums up my feelings about London hosting the Olympics in a couple of weeks.  Part of me is looking forward being in a city that is celebrating sport (not that I have any tickets, but that would be another post in itself) – the banners are up, the torch reaches London this evening… it’s all starting to feel real.  But the other part of me is wondering if it will turn out to be a complete nightmare logistics-wise for people who actually live here.  The Tube stations I frequent are on the list of stations to avoid as much as possible as they’re expected to be extremely busy, buses are on diversions, everyone’s trying to figure out how to work from home… So yes, it could turn out to be fantastic and a summer to remember, or it could be one that I would prefer to forget.

Have any of you ever lived in a city that was hosting the Olympics before?  Any tips on what to expect?

Anyway, to bring this back to books, I was thinking about London the other day – specifically books that are set in London.  I get a secret thrill when reading books set in places I know – it’s like seeing a familiar place through other people’s eyes.  But not all books do that; there are numerous historical romances that are set in London, where lip-service is paid to riding in Hyde Park and dancing at Almacks, but somehow, it doesn’t feel like the London I know and love.

Here are a few books that bring London alive for me:

Jacqueline Winspear‘s Maisie Dobbs books: These are historical mysteries set in the post-WW1 era (here’s what I wrote a few years back about the first four books).  I’m not massively keen on the paranormal and psychic elements of the latter books in the series, but love the period-era details in the books.  And when Maisie walks to her office in the Bloomsbury area or makes her way home, I think, yes, this is London.

Sarah Rees Brennan‘s Demon Lexicon trilogy: It’s no secret that I love these books to death, and the fact that London acts as a backdrop to some of the action is a bonus.  I think THE DEMON’S SURRENDER cover is great (and not just because it’s Alan looking all moody and heroic) – the London skyline behind him sets the scene so perfectly.

Ben Aaronovitch‘s Peter Grant books: I’ve only read the first book in this gritty urban fantasy series (RIVERS OF LONDON / MIDNIGHT RIOT) so far, but what I really like about his writing is that it brings out the multicultural-ness (yes, I just made up that word) of London.  And I actually learnt some fascinating facts about London rivers when reading this book.  Educational entertainment 😉

Benedict Jacka‘s Alex Verus books: As with the Peter Grant books, I’ve only (just) read the first book in the series, FATED.  There is a bit of a Dresden Files feeling about this book (the blurb from Jim Butcher on the cover and an in-joke about a Chicago wizard in the first couple of pages didn’t do anything to dispel this).  But a clear sense of place comes through – Alex runs a shop in Camden and a lot of the action takes place in the British Museum.  In fact, this was the book that inspired me to write this post.

I’ve probably missed off quite a few books – have any books brought London to life for you?  And do you feel the same way as me when reading books set in your home city?

6 thoughts on “Cautiously Excited

  1. Oh wow, how exciting for you to have the Olympics in London this year. I was living in Los Angeles during the 1988? Olympics. Traffic on the freeway was a big concern at the time and I remember that we worked 4 day week/10 hour days during that period to alleviate traffic jams. But I loved, loved the excitement in the city and as it turned out, everything was well organized and gorgeous. 😀 I still have pins that I collected during that time.

    I am also “cautiously” looking forward to the new Maisie Dobbs installment. I was just looking at it this last week. 🙂 I love the atmosphere in those books, but the last one was vearing towards WWII already, interesting right? I’m still thinking of going back and reading Books 2-6? I read Books 1 and 7(? the last one) only.

    • It’s taken a while, but I think the excitement is starting to be felt, especially since the athletes have started arriving. Or certainly in my circles anyway 😉 Good to know that you remember the LA Olympics fondly!

      I don’t think I’ve read the last two Maisie Dobbs books yet – kind of stalled after the seventh, will have to pick it up again. I wonder if she’s going to take Maisie through WWII – definitely interesting!

  2. Well, Li, as you figured out from my last blog post, my family and I will be among the tourists clogging up the tube on the locals. I feel badly about it.. knowing how much the Olympics is going to disrupt the every day lives of the general public in London, but then again.. IT’S THE OLYMPICS! Such an honor to host such an event AND it’ll bring lots of money to local businesses, right? I just hope we don’t spend all our time traveling from place to place in the city and then run out of time to actually visit everything we want to see. It’s gonna be a bit chaotic for the tourists, too!

    I recently read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman which takes place in London.. and largely in the tube! Probably where I’ll be most of my vacation.. LOLOL!

    • LOL – I’m not sure about the local economy thing, but you’re right, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing to live in a city that is hosting the Olympics! I’m hoping they have over-estimated the travel chaos – we will see in a week’s time. It’s usually really easy to get around London, so fingers crossed.

      I’ve never gotten around to reading NEVERWHERE properly, but have glanced through in-store – I think that would be a perfect book for London! I will have to add to my TBR!

  3. I’ve never lived in a city that hosted the Olympics, but I would say it’s probably going to be a little crazy. I hope not horribly so though. Looking forward to see what you say about it when it’s done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.