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Summer Learning Track: London Calling

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

-Samuel Johnson

Whether you’ve been a dozen times or have only dreamed about it, there’s no denying that London is one of greatest, most vibrant cities in the western world. As an avowed anglophile, I’ll admit that I have spent countless hours thinking about how I’d spend day after day wandering the streets of London: marveling at the architecture, soaking up the history and culture, popping into the local pub for a pint. I find that with a city like London, the more you learn the deeper you want to delve into this fascinating place.

Luckily, the Summer Learning Challenge is a great way to challenge myself to take a closer look. Here is a learning track I’ve come up with to explore my love of this amazing place. There are so many fantastic resources available at Richland Library, I might have to stretch this out over a few summers!

Non-fiction books that explore London’s history and culture:

  • A Traveller’s History of London by Richard Tames
  • Shakespeare’s Pub: A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of its Oldest Pub – The George Inn by Pete Brown
  • London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets by Peter Ackroyd
  • London Rising: The Men Who Made Modern London by Leo Hollis
  • Lost London by Richard Guard
  • Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London by Shawn Levy
  • London: An Architectural History by Anthony Sutcliffe
  • London: A Life in Maps by Dr. Peter Whitfield
  • _______________________________

    Works of fiction that will take me into the lives of Londoners:

  • London by Edward Rutherfurd
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • About a Boy by Nick Hornby
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
  • _______________________________

    London-based movies for seeing the sights of the city:

  • Love Actually
  • Notting Hill
  • Closer
  • Match Point
  • Sliding Doors
  • A Hard Day’s Night
  • 84 Charing Cross Road
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • From Hell

  • Amazon Says: Beatlemania is sweeping the Criterion Collection! This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ beloved musical comedy A Hard Day’s Night,and to commemorate it more...
    Amazon Says: Beatlemania is sweeping the Criterion Collection! This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ beloved musical comedy A Hard Day’s Night,and to commemorate it we’re releasing a jam-packed special edition of the film, featuring a new 4K digital restoration, a newly remixed 5.1 surround soundtrack, and hours of incredible supplements. We’re also pleased to present two other gems of sixties cool: Georges Franju’s Judex, an inventive and elegant French kidnapping caper that’s ripe for rediscovery, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s quintessential modern-age romance L’eclisse, with the gorgeous duo of Monica Vitti and Alain Delon. Then go back to the fifties for Douglas Sirk’s stunning Technicolor tearjerker All That Heaven Allows,newly restored, and ahead to the seventies for Peter Davis’s Oscar-winning documentary about the Vietnam War, Hearts and Minds, and Australian auteur Peter Weir’s mysterious breakthrough masterpiece, Picnic at Hanging Rock. These are all essential and unforgettable works of cinema. less...
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    Amazon Says: Match Point is "a winning combination of sex, mystery, brilliant writing and first-rate acting that all adds up to one of the most erotic and exhilarating movies in years." (M more...
    Amazon Says: Match Point is "a winning combination of sex, mystery, brilliant writing and first-rate acting that all adds up to one of the most erotic and exhilarating movies in years." (Maxim). Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is being torn apart by his desire for two very different women. Marrying Chloe (Emily Mortimer) will bring him a life of wealth and success, but his true passion lies with his brother-in-law's fiancee, the stunningly sensuous but unpredictable Nola (Scarlett Johansson). Pulsing with tension, Match Point rides the dangerous line between ambition and obsession to an ending as surprising as it is chilling. less...
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    Amazon Says: Triumphant winner of 7 Academy Awards(R) -- including Best Picture -- this witty, sexy smash features Oscar(R)-winning Best Actress Gwyneth Paltrow (SLIDING DOORS, THE ROYAL T more...
    Amazon Says: Triumphant winner of 7 Academy Awards(R) -- including Best Picture -- this witty, sexy smash features Oscar(R)-winning Best Actress Gwyneth Paltrow (SLIDING DOORS, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS) and an amazing cast that includes Academy Award-winners Judi Dench (Best Supporting Actress), Geoffrey Rush (Best Actor -- SHINE), and Ben Affleck (GOOD WILL HUNTING, PEARL HARBOR). When Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes -- ELIZABETH) needs passionate inspiration to break a bad case of writer's block, a secret romance with the beautiful Lady Viola (Paltrow) starts the words flowing like never before! There are just two things he'll have to learn about his new love: not only is she promised to marry someone else, but she's successfully impersonating a man in order to play the lead in Will's latest production! A truly can't-miss motion picture event with outstanding critical acclaim to match its impressive collection of major awards -- everyone will love this funny behind-the-scenes look at the writing of the greatest love story ever told! less...
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    London: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
    Amazon Says: London follows six different families from the Roman settlement to the dockland development of today. Real-life characters and events of British history are found in more...
    Amazon Says: London follows six different families from the Roman settlement to the dockland development of today. Real-life characters and events of British history are found in London as well, but it is the period details and the stories of ordinary Londoners, whose daily lives are affected by events that have shaped the city over two thousand years, that bring the novel to life. In London Rutherfurd provides more than just the familiar sights and revelations, he gives a voice to a city whose history is one of the most remarkable in the world. less...
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    Amazon Says: A history of Britain told through the story of one very special pub, from "The Beer Drinker's Bill Bryson" (Times Literary Supplement) Welcome to the George Inn near London B more...
    Amazon Says: A history of Britain told through the story of one very special pub, from "The Beer Drinker's Bill Bryson" (Times Literary Supplement) Welcome to the George Inn near London Bridge; a cosy, wood-paneled, galleried coaching house a few minutes' walk from the Thames. Grab yourself a pint, listen to the chatter of the locals and lean back, resting your head against the wall. And then consider this: who else has rested their head against that wall, over the last six hundred years? Chaucer and his fellow pilgrims almost certainly drank in the George on their way out of London to Canterbury. It's fair to say that Shakespeare popped in from the nearby Globe for a pint, and we know that Dickens certainly did. Mail carriers changed their horses here, before heading to all four corners of Britain—while sailors drank here before visiting all four corners of the world. The pub, as Pete Brown points out, is the 'primordial cell of British life' and in the George he has found the perfect example. All life is here, from murderers, highwaymen, and ladies of the night to gossiping peddlers and hard-working clerks. So sit back with Shakespeare's Pub and watch as buildings rise and fall over the centuries, and 'the beer drinker's Bill Bryson' (UK's Times Literary Supplement) takes us on an entertaining tour through six centuries of history, through the stories of everyone that ever drank in one pub. less...
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    A Traveller's History of London by Richard, Comp Tames
    Amazon Says: 'Dip into Richard Tames's literary, lyrical "A Traveller's History of London"' - "The Sunday Telegraph". 'This volume is not so much a guide as a supremely civilised companion more...
    Amazon Says: 'Dip into Richard Tames's literary, lyrical "A Traveller's History of London"' - "The Sunday Telegraph". 'This volume is not so much a guide as a supremely civilised companion', - "Easters Daily Press". "A Traveller's History of London" aims to bring London's past alive to the resident, traveller and student, to reveal the city's hidden treasures and forgotten places and guide the reader to the sights and sites that can still be seen and enjoyed. less...
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    Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
    Amazon Says: Harcourt is proud to introduce new annotated editions of three Virginia Woolf classics, ideal for the college classroom and beyond. For the first time, students reading these more...
    Amazon Says: Harcourt is proud to introduce new annotated editions of three Virginia Woolf classics, ideal for the college classroom and beyond. For the first time, students reading these books will have the resources at hand to help them understand the text as well as the reasons and methods behind Woolf's writing. We've commissioned the best-known Woolf scholars in the field to provide invaluable introductions, editing, critical analysis, and suggestions for further reading. These much-awaited volumes are the first of many annotated Woolf editions Harcourt plans on publishing in the coming years. This brilliant novel explores the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman's life. Direct and vivid in her account of the details of Clarissa Dalloway's preparations for a party she is to give that evening,Woolf ultimately managed to reveal much more; for it is the feeling behind these daily events that gives Mrs. Dalloway its texture and richness and makes it so memorable. Annotated and with an introduction by Bonnie Scott less...
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    V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
    Amazon Says: In an alternate future in which Germany wins WWII and Britain becomes a fascist state, a vigilante named "V" stalks the streets of London trying to free England of its ideolog more...
    Amazon Says: In an alternate future in which Germany wins WWII and Britain becomes a fascist state, a vigilante named "V" stalks the streets of London trying to free England of its ideological chains. less...
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    Amazon Says: It’s the summer of 1966... The fundamental old ways: chastity, rationality, harmony, sobriety, even democracy: blasted to nothing or crumbling under siege. The city more...
    Amazon Says: It’s the summer of 1966... The fundamental old ways: chastity, rationality, harmony, sobriety, even democracy: blasted to nothing or crumbling under siege. The city glows. It echoes. It pulses. It bleeds pastel and fuzzy, spicy, paisley and soft. This is how it's always going to be: smashing clothes, brilliant music, easy sex, eternal youth, the eyes of everybody, everyone's first thought, the top of the world, right here, right now: Swinging London. Shawn Levy has a genius for unearthing the secret history of popular culture. The Los Angeles Times called King of Comedy, his biography of Jerry Lewis, "a model of what a celebrity bio ought to be–smart, knowing, insightful, often funny, full of fascinating insiders' stories," and the Boston Globe declared that Rat Pack Confidential "evokes the time in question with the power of a novel, as well as James Ellroy's American Tabloid and better by far than Don DeLillo's Underworld." In Ready, Steady, Go! Levy captures the spirit of the sixties in all its exuberance. A portrait of London from roughly 1961 to 1969, it chronicles the explosion of creativity–in art, music and fashion–and the revolutions–sexual, social and political–that reshaped the world. Levy deftly blends the enthusiasm of a fan, the discerning eye of a social critic and a historian's objectivity as he re-creates the hectic pace and daring experimentation of the times–from the utter transformation of rock 'n' roll by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to the new aesthetics introduced by fashion designers like Mary Quant, haircutters like Vidal Sassoon, photographers like David Bailey, actors like Michael Caine and Terence Stamp and filmmakers like Richard Lester and Nicolas Roeg to the wild clothing shops and cutting-edge clubs that made Carnaby Street and King's Road the hippest thoroughfares in the world. Spiced with the reminiscences of some of the leading icons of that period, their fans and followers, and featuring a photographic gallery of well-known faces and far-out fashions, Ready, Steady, Go! is an irresistible re-creation of a time and place that seemed almost impossibly fun. less...
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    Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
    Amazon Says: Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small a more...
    Amazon Says: Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew."A fantastic story that is both the stuff of dreams and nightmares" (San Diego Union-Tribune), Neil Gaiman's first solo novel has become a touchstone of urban fantasy, and a perennial favorite of readers everywhere. less...
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