SSSHHH, I'M READING: Katie Wignall's ABANDONED LONDON
blogger and walking tour guide Katie Wignall, the founder of Look Up London, Abandoned London is a treasure trove full of beauties, surprises, and connections to times long gone. Striking photos and concise, informative descriptions paint a picture of London as it was in the past and display the ways that the city, like a palimpsest, builds the new without entirely eradicating the past. As a lover of all things nineteenth century, I particularly enjoyed the book's images of structures from Victorian London: an upholstery and sundries building in Shoreditch, the ruins of the Asylum Chapel in Peckham, the ornate facade of the abandoned Crown and Shuttle pub, and the ruins of Dollis Hill House near Gladstone Park among them. But all of the book's image-and-caption pairings tell fascinating stories, capturing quirky and often poignant details of London's landscape and evoking the change that is so constant in its history. Since some of the places Wignall depicts have been destroyed or reinvented since the photos were taken, Abandoned London is also valuable in preserving them in an accessible and engaging form. If you, like me, love London but can't get there to take one of the tours Katie Wignall organizes in person, this book is the next best thing. I can't recommend Abandoned London highly enough for lovers of travel, London, Britain, architecture and urban life; the book will also be hugely useful to writers and other creative artists whose work reimagines one or more points in London's past. Abandoned London isn't out in the U.S. until July 6 but can be pre-ordered on Amazon now; the British edition is available for purchase on Amazon.co.uk among other sites.